Often lauded as the most beautiful bridge in Warsaw, Most Poniatowskiego celebrates its 108th birthday today.
Ten years in the making, it was opened by the Russian Governor, Georgi Skalon, on January 6th, 1914; but despite its copious aesthetic value, ‘the third bridge’ as it was nicknamed was deemed a surplus extravagance by many Varsovians at the time.
Certainly, it seemed a case of money badly spent when, just a 18-months on, it was blown up by retreating Russian troops in 1915.
Though occupying German forces stitched it up, their patchwork efforts burned down a couple of years later. Rebuilt in peacetime, more drama followed when, in 1926, and with Poland on the verge of civil war, Marshal Józef Piłsudski met with President Wojciechowski on the bridge to discuss the future of the nation.
No agreement was reached and a coup was swiftly launched that led to Piłsudski assuming power.
Most Poniatowskiego returned to prominence during WWII when it was attacked from both sides by insurgents on the first day of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.
Blown to smithereens by Nazi sappers on September 13th, 1944, the crossing was later rebuilt in 1945 only for a section to come crashing down once more: one person died and nine were injured in the disaster.
Unsurprisingly, its catalogue of mishaps have seen some call it Warsaw’s unluckiest bridge, though its fortunes have been kinder on this side of the millennium.
Determined efforts to beautify the bridge have been striking in their results with the turrets, pavilions and ornamental lamps all returned to their Neo Renaissance best. Below, meanwhile, the bridge’s extravagant stairwells and steel trusses make for a remarkable exploration despite their somewhat seedy stagnancy.
Witness to some of Warsaw’s most turbulent chapters, it remains imperial in its pomp with its unmistakable silhouette now all the more powerful when juxtaposed against the glimmering sight of the National Stadium in the distance.