Opened in time for the anniversary commemorations of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, the revamped Kopiec Powstania Warszawskiego promises a contemplative and scenic walk amid Warsaw’s wartime rubble…
Found in the city’s Siekierki district, the Uprising Mound (Kopiec Powstania Warszawskiego) was created in the post-war years from tons of rubble removed from the centre. Measuring approximately 35-meters in height, many viewed it as being a symbolic ‘tomb’. Crowned with a giant Kotwica – the anchor-style emblem adopted by Poland’s wartime underground – recent years had seen this spot look increasingly scraggy and unkempt. Now, though, that’s changed following a striking renovation that’s lent this landmark a new lease of life.
Arriving via Bartycka street, the dusty carpark set in front opens out onto an outdoor exhibition that occupies a small, mazy installation made from towering columns of rubble. Here, peruse informational boards that shed light on the complex operation to rid the city of its rubble as well as, more pertinently, the back story behind the creation of mound.
Credited as the idea of Stanisław Gruszczyński, it was he that lobbied the Ministry of Reconstruction for a commemorative hill constructed from the smashed remnants of the city.
“If we tried to look at this rubble in a different way, not as ordinary rubble but as the remains of a dead city, then we would recognise that these remains bear the traces of our ancestors work,” he wrote. “Millions of hands have touched this rubble over the centuries, and thousands of Polish lives once existed between those bricks… These remains, this rubble, should be treated as relics.”
Dying in 1958, Gruszczyński would not live to see his idea become a reality, and instead it was left to a team of Kraków-based artists and architects to push through the project. Taking shape in the 1960s, it would take decades until it was truly appreciated – up until the mid-90s it was marked on city maps as a rubbish dump. This changed in 1994 with the addition of the Kotwica monument, the first step to the mound’s eventual rehabilitation. Today, the new outdoor exhibition that greets you on arrival demonstrates just how far it’s come.
With the exhibition crossed off, it’s time to conquer the mound. Sitting 121-metres above sea level reaching the top can be done either by taking the gentle pathway that ribbons around the hill, or by climbing the 350 steps that run straight ahead. Although reputedly the city’s longest stairwell, the ascent itself is easy enough and features plenty of shaded seats and benches along the way. Lying in wait at the top, find the Kotwica and a circular viewing platform that gazes onto the dense woodland down below.
Forego the stairs and instead take one of the curling pathways down. Hemmed in by walls that evoke banks of sandbags, these lead to a network of steel walkways that slash through the trees. Along the way, discover several wooded groves, spidering trails, fragments of rubble and boards informing of the area’s plants and wildlife. Going under the title of ‘Sanctuary Park’, the name accurately conveys the sense of serenity that reigns supreme.