Once the summer residence of Poland’s last regent, no park can compete with the 76-hectare Łazienki in terms of stories or imperial grandeur…
Smelted by the Germans because of its patriotic value, Wacław Szymanowski’s epic Chopin statue was reconstructed based on sketches found in the artist’s burned-out villa and unveiled in 1959. Since then, piano recitals have been held ever weekend of summer at noon and 4 p.m. every Sunday. Drawing thousands, the ‘piano in the park’ is an essential rite of passage.
You’ll never know who you might bump into whilst walking Łazienki’s meandering pathways, or what. Home to foxes, red squirrels, mallards, mandarin ducks and so forth, the park’s most famous residents are, however, the Indian peacocks that can found strutting around and fanning their feathers – it is these fantastical creatures that truly own the park, and they’re particularly prevalent around the Orangery, a stunning structure built in the 18th century to house exotic plants and fruit trees.
Known for organising a string of memorable art exhibitions, Łazienki’s management have not disappointed this year – running until early September, visit the Great Annexe building to be entranced by three paintings by Frida Kahlo. Accompanying the exhibition are a series of photos and relics related to the artist’s life.
Łazienki bristles with classical attractions, and these include a sculpture gallery in the sunny halls of the Orangery, the charmingly old-fashioned Museum of Hunting & Horsemanship, and the postcard perfect Palace on the Isle – inside, view the former summer living quarters of King Stanisław August as well as 140 paintings that once formed part of his collection. Back outside, al fresco cinema screenings are held every Tuesday evening in an amphitheatre built in 1793 to resemble a Greco-Roman ruin. On August 9th, meanwhile, gather here for one of their monthly jazz recitals.
The biggest pleasure lies not in ticking off sights and sounds, but simply letting your nose be your guide. Along the way, aimless ambles will take you past swooning statues of ancient Gods, elegant pavilions tucked away amid the greenery, guardhouses, and unexpected sights such as the Chinese Garden – first built in 1780, and later recreated in 2014, this picturesque refuge was modelled on Prince Kung’s mansion in Beijing.
Slashed with canals and lakes, no self-respecting tourist can leave Łazienki without first stepping onto one of the genteel gondolas that glide over the waters. Moored by the Palace on the Isle, and crowned with colourful canvas canopies, expect to be charged around PLN 15 for a short journey – you’ll feel like you’re in a Hugh Grant romcom.