The Lazienki Park
Lazienki (pronounced uazienki) in its present form originates from the time after 1764, where Poland's last elective King acquired the nearby Ujazdowskie castle. A number of mainly Italian painters and architects were commissioned to extend the Royal Possessions and create a Royal Summer Residence. During the years to come a landscape park took form together with a Summer Palace, Amphitheatre, Orangery and pavilions.
Formally seen, Lazienki is a museum, but personally I consider it a park. The foundation of landscape parks was a popular spare time occupation among the Polish high nobility in the 18th century, and there are several similar parks in Warsaw, though the Lazienki is far the biggest and most impressive - and then it's just a stone's throw from the centre.
The park constantly alternates between different times, countries and continents, between forest-like areas and elaborate flower arrangements. Next to Lazienki we find the Warsaw University Botanical Garden, so it's really an exciting experience if you want to observe flowers and trees.
The Lazienki park is also a sanctuary for peacocks strutting around the Palace and the Theatre. The park is also known for its population of tame squirrels, who will be happy to receive a few nuts from the visitors.
A stroll in the Lazienki Park gives more than a trip to the local park with a six-pack from the nearby store (remember that beer/ wine may ONLY be consumed in the bars or restaurants). It is a way of experiencing past times, and you feel the splendour of old days.
You can visit the park for free, but a visit to the palace or closed pavilions costs a fee. The most expensive ticket, giving access to all locations costs 25 zloty for an adult.
The Chopin statue in the Lazienki Park. All through the summer Chopin concerts are given every Sunday from 12:00-16:00. On warm summer evenings not only the benches are filled, but the audience is laying on the grass listening to the strains of Chopin's compositions.
Click on the map above to see the Lazienki park in large scale.
There are a lot of squirrels, and they are not afraid of humans.
You can meet them anywhere - on the footpaths, in the grass or climbing a tree.
The Palace on the island, also called the Palace in the water originates from 1689, but was extended in the 18th century and as from 1775 performs the function of Royal Summer Residence.
The Palace was luxuriously decorated by artists from all over Europe. King Stanislaw Poniatowski spent fortunes on art, and it must have been a unique experience to take part in the King's Thursday Dinners, where art and philosophy were being discussed.
A substantial part of the art collection survived WWII, and represents a rare range of original, European works from the 17th and 18th century.
The arrangements also shows the Kings admiration for Classical Antiquity, and the Palace is filled with symbols referring to the great kings of Poland and the time when Poland was among the great European powers - something which may have been of special importance during the reign of Stanislaw August, where Poland was in a state of chaos and de facto had become a Russian satellite state.
The palace was destroyed in 1944, but has been rebuilt in its original style.
The attractiveness of the park is - among other things - due to the contrasts and the harmony. One moment you find yourself in a forest, the next moment you are in China.
In front of the Amphitheatre, also called the Theatre on the island. Finished 1786 by Court Architect Dominik Merlini, who was responsible for most of the arrangements and buildings of the park together with Jan Chrystian Kamsetzer and Jan Chrystian Szuch.
In the summer time concerts and performances are arranged here.
On the left the cafe by the Amphitheatre. Here you can relax with a cup of coffee, a lager or a light lunch.
Julius Caesar and other Roman emperors are contemplating the peacocks
The Orangery is the seat of exhibitions and an indoor theatre.
Below: The palace on the Night of Museums - once a year where all museums in Warsaw offer free entrance all night.