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Łazienki Park (Polish: Park Łazienkowski or Łazienki Królewskie, literally Baths Park or Royal Baths) is the largest park in Warsaw, Poland, occupying 76 hectares of the city center. The park-and-palace complex lies in Warsaw's central district (Śródmieście), on Ujazdów Avenue (Aleje Ujazdowskie) on the "Royal Route" linking the Royal Castle with Wilanów palace to the south. North of Łazienki Park, on the other side of Agrykola Street, stands Ujazdów Castle.
Łazienki Park was designed in the 17th century by Tylman van Gameren, in the baroque style, for Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski. It took the name Łazienki ("Baths") from a bathing pavilion that was located there.
The development of the classical-style gardens became a major project for King Stanisław August. The park-and-palace complex was designed by Domenico Merlini, Johann Christian Kammsetzer and landscape gardener Jan Chrystian Schuch. Its principal buildings stand beside or near the Łazienki Lake and Łazienki River. Stanisław August's palace is situated on the lake and hence is known as the "Palace on the Water."
Most of the buildings in the park suffered severe fire damage during and after the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, amid fighting between German and Polish forces. The structures nevertheless were relatively well-preserved, compared to those in the Old Town; here the Germans had drilled holes in the palace walls for placement of explosive charges, but charges had not been placed to destroy the buildings.
Reconstruction of the park and palaces was completed within a few years after World War II.
Structures in the Park
Palace on the Water
The Palace on the Water (Polish: Pałac na Wodzie), also called the Łazienki Palace (Pałac Łazienkowski) and the Palace on the Island (Pałac na Wyspie), was built in the 17th century by Tylman van Gameren for Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski. Between 1772 and 1793 it was remodeled by Domenico Merlini for King Stanisław August Poniatowski, who made it his residence.
The original bathhouse was built in a Chinese style. The building, now a beautiful mixture of architectural styles, was then graced with reliefs and painted Dutch tiles.
The palace stands on an artificial island in Łazienki Lake, and is connected to the rest of the park by two arcaded bridges. The long Łazienki Lake is divided by the palace into two parts, a smaller northern lake and a larger southern one.
The palace's ground floor includes the "Bacchus room," royal baths, a ballroom, a portrait gallery, the Solomon Room, a rotunda with figures of Polish kings, a lower picture gallery which contains minor works by Rubens and Rembrandt, and a chapel. Also on the ground floor is a dining room which hosted the famous "Thursday dinners" to which Stanisław August Poniatowski invited leading artists, writers and politicians.
The first floor contains the royal apartments, an upper picture gallery, a balcony room, the king's study, the royal bedchambers, a cloakroom, and an officer's room. The Palace on the Water was burned after the 1944 Warsaw Uprising by the Germans but German plans to blow up the palace were never carried out. It was rebuilt after World War II.
The Roman-inspired Amphitheater was built on the bank of the Łazienki lake, separated by a narrow strait from its stage. The amphitheater was built in 1790-93 by Jan Chrystian Kamsetzer. Its attic is embellished with sixteen statues representing famous poets of antiquity.
The stage, sited on an island, was modeled after ancient Herculaneum and embellished with decorations that imitate ruins in the Roman Forum. Performances are still staged here. The amphitheater and its stage provide a perfect setting on a summer evening, despite occasional noise from swans, ducks and peacocks.
The Little White House (Biały Domek) is a garden villa built in 1774-76 by Domenico Merlini. It housed King Stanisław August Poniatowski's mistress and, for a time, Louis XVIII, who lived here in 1801-05 during his exile from France. Built in the form of a square, it has identical facades, adorned with rustication, an attic and a small pavilion at the top. The interiors were decorated by the prominent Polish painters Jan Ścisło and Jan Bogumił Plersch.
Though the Little White House was devastated by the Germans during World War II however, many of its interior furnishings survived. The most interesting include grotesque paintings in the dining room, 18th-century Chinese wallpaper in the parlor, the king's bed in the bedchamber, and a cabinet in the form of an arbor with trompe-l'œil paintings by Plersch.
The palace's main, three-story body features a central entry niche and is flanked by quarter-circle wings. The facade is adorned by an enormous shell with sculptures of Zephyr and Flora by Giacomo Monaldi. The gently recurved rooflines reflect then-popular Chinese designs.
The palace survived World War II. On 15 September 1958, the first talks were held here between the ambassadors of the Chinese People's Republic and the United States of America — the first attempt to establish contact between the two countries.
The Old Orangery was erected in 1786-88 in a rectangular horseshoe shape, with the southern façade of the core structure broken up by pilasters and arcaded great windows. It houses a magnificent interior. The building contains a well-preserved wooden theatre (one of the few in Europe to retain its original 18th-century decor), with space for over two hundred people, not including those in the royal boxes. The auditorium, consisting of stalls and surrounding balconies, is richly decorated with paintings. The walls between the balconies, divided by twin pilasters, are adorned with female statues holding chandeliers. To complete the classical pose, pieces from King Stanisław's extensive collection fill the long galleries behind the auditorium.
The building was built by Adam Adolf Loewe and Józef Orłowski in 1860. Neo-classicist with eclectic elements, it was designed to shelter the collection of orange trees.
The building was necessary because tsar Alexander II of Russia, who purchased one of the largest in Europe collection of tropical plants from Nieborów, could not transport it to Saint Petersburg, due to climate conditions there. The collection's pride were long-lived orange trees (there were 124 of them in the collection). Unfortunately, during the World War I, they were left without appropriate care and froze. The building consists of an oblong hall, with glass walls. Today it houses a tropical garden and a restaurant in the northern wing.
Temple of Diana
In 1822, Jakub Kubicki erected a classicist temple to the goddess Diana. Also called the "Temple of the Sibyl," it stands next to the northwest part of the southern Łazienki lake. The wooden building is massive and decorated inside with murals with flower and fruit motifs.
An Egyptian temple was also built in 1822 by Jakub Kubicki, on the southwest shore of the southern Łazienki Lake. It was placed next to the fortress built by Stanisław Lubomirski, which protected Warsaw south of that point. In 1771 a bridge was built to it. During the Warsaw Uprising, only the northern part of the temple survived; the southern part has never been rebuilt.
The Water Tower is a neoclassical structure, built in 1777–78 and 1822 by Jan Christian Kamsetzer and Chrystian Piotr Aigner. It was modeled after Caecilia Metella's mausoleum on the Appian Way in Rome and currently serves as a museum of jewelry.
Buildings near the Park
The Belweder Palace was erected about 1660 and was remodeled in the first half of the 18th century in the Baroque style. It was acquired by King Stanisław August Poniatowski, who used it as a porcelain-manufacturing plant.
From 1818 it was the residence of the ruler of Congress Poland, Grand Duke Constantine, and was remodeled in 1819–22 in the Neoclassical style by Jakub Kubicki. As a child Frédéric Chopin would be invited to the Belweder to be a playmate to the Grand Duke's son and to soothe the Grand Duke's nerves with his piano playing. When officer cadets barracked on the Łazienki Park grounds opened the November 1831 Uprising with an attempted capture of the Grand Duke, it was from the Belweder Palace that he fled to safety.
After the re-establishment of Poland's independence, in 1918–22 the Belweder served as quarters to Józef Piłsudski, and in 1922-26 as the presidential residence of Gabriel Narutowicz and Stanisław Wojciechowski. During Piłsudski's May 1926 Coup d'État, Wojciechowski fled the Belweder for Wilanów, to the south.
The current building was constructed in 1975 after a 1944 fire during the Warsaw Uprising destroyed the previous stone construction, but castles have existed on the spot since around the 13th century. In 1624 construction began on a stone castle under order of King Sigismund III Vasa, with remodeling by subsequent owners Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski and Stanisław August Poniatowski, the latter of whom donated the property to the Polish Army in 1784. In the 18th century the castle was included in the Stanislavian Axis, a line of parks and palaces planned in the southern outskirts of Warsaw much like the Saxon Axis in the city center. Since 1981 it has been the home of the Center for Contemporary Art.
Within the gardens stands the Astronomical Observatory founded by the second rector of Warsaw University, astronomer Franciszek Armiński (1789–1848). Its tradition goes back to 1665, when the first observatory in Poland (nota bene at the Ujazdów Castle) was established by Titus Livius Burattini. Construction was started in 1822 and the observatory was formally inaugurated in 1825. The classicist façade dates to 1824 and was designed by royal architects Chrystian Piotr Aigner, Hilary Szpilowski and Michał Kado.
The park is also home to the Chopin Statue, a monument to Frédéric Chopin. It was designed in 1907 by Wacław Szymanowski for planned erection on the centenary of Chopin's birth in 1910, but its execution was delayed by controversy about the design, then by the outbreak of World War I. The statue was finally cast and erected in 1926.
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By Vogel (1800s)
Summer Sunday piano recital at Chopin monument