A mysterious tunnel and a rich array of archaeological finds are among the discoveries that have been reported just days into work undertaken as part of a controversial, government-backed project to rebuild the Bruhl and Saski Palace.
Set to last around six-months, and covering an area of 4,500 sq/m, early excavation work has already yielded a barrage of surprises, including a four-metre deep chamber that had been previously unmapped.
Sławomir Kuliński, the spokesman for the Saski Palace project, said: “the tunnel leads from the Bruhl Palace towards Wierzbowa street and can be considered mysterious as its presence has never been marked on any map. Moreover, it’s depth was also a big surprise.”
So far, the dig has also yielded Mauser cartridges dated from both World Wars, a Polish military helmet from 1931, shells, metalware produced at Warsaw’s Norblin factory, a glass inkwell, a number of bottles and several stone and metal decorative elements that would have once adorned the façade of the Bruhl Palace.
Of the finds, a fragment of the palace’s 17th century portal has also been unearthed.
All of this, however, stands to represent just the tip of the iceberg – when initial ground work was conducted around the area of Saski Palace between 2006 and 2008, finds included a diamond ring.
Known as one of the finest examples of the late Baroque and Rococo styles in Poland, the Bruhl Palace was later reimagined in Neo-Classical fashion by Domenico Merlini, an architect best-known for his work on Łazienki Park and Palace.
Over time, it served as the seat of the French Embassy and the residence of Konstantin Pavlovich, the Grand Duke of Russia – it was his iron rule that was blamed on the outbreak of the so-called 1830-1831 November Uprising.
Later, in the inter-war years, plans were hatched to house the Ministry of Foreign Affairs inside, and it was during this time that Bohdan Pniewski was recruited to remodel the palace in his trademark style.
When Goering visited, he marvelled at the renovation and announced the palace to be ‘wunderbar’.
Seen as one of the most modern office complexes in Poland, Pniewski’s project included a gymnasium, underground shooting range, a canteen and hairdresser. A new stairwell was also added, and archaeologists have already voiced hopes of finding this in future.
Used during the war by the city’s Nazi Governor, Ludwig Fischer, the Bruhl was levelled on December 19th, 1944, thereby wiping out 300-years of history.
Set to be reconstructed in tandem with the neighbouring Saski Palace, the project has been welcomed by many Poles. Conversely, it has also attracted many detractors on account of its obscene cost.
Promising to suck some PLN 2.5 billion out of the public coffers, the reconstruction has been scheduled to finish in 2030.