“ A public garden opposite Pilduski Square in Warsaw, Poland. „
tOgrod Saski, Saski Gardens or Saski Park as we call it is a funny old place. When I first moved to Warsaw it was probably the second park I visited and I remember seeing lots of Mallard ducks sat in a row at the entrance. Snow was on the ground and they did look a sorry sight, like little old ladies cuddled up to each other to keep warm. I have visited the park several times since and throughout all seasons and types of weather. My favourite times are spring and autumn because in the summer the park is always crowded with residents and visitors and it is just too packed to stroll around in a peaceful manner. The reason it is so popular is because of its central location and easy for city workers to pop in, sit on a bench and eat their lunch. The word Saski means Saxon and originally the park planners influenced by English landscaping wanted to create a touch of England in the centre of Warsaw. However, it doesn't feel that English to me, I always think there is more of a Parisian feel to the park with it's avenues, fountain and statues. Saski Garden faces Pilsudski Square, an open area which was created in the times of King August II Wettin. Originally there was a magnificent palace built here (Palac Saski) which occupied the whole square. This was destroyed along with the palace gardens by the Russians to make space for military training and parades. The Sobor Orthodox Church was also built in this square but removed when Poland became independent. After the Second World War all the buildings in the square were destroyed apart from the colonnade which now serves as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier which stands in front of the main entrance to Saski Garden This is where fragments of earth are buried which were collected in urns from battlefields all over the world where Polish soldiers had fallen. This is a big tourist attraction and is where the changing of the guard takes place at noon every day. I used to think this park was large but it isn't - it is of average size and can easily be walked around in 30 to 45 minutes. Two major features that attract visitors are the Rococo figures which border the main artery of the park and the huge white fountain whose spray is very elegant as it tumbles into its shell like basin guarded by antiquated fish. The fountain isn't always in operation. Generally in summer (June, July & August) it gushes out a warm spray but like now in the autumn and winter it looks desolate with no spray or pool of water. The flower beds around the fountain are still flowering at the moment but within another month or so these will have vanished too. As for the statues they are charming but I think they would look far more attractive if they had been placed in different parts of the park and not set all in a row. The majority of trees in the park are old chestnut trees which provide plenty of shade in the summer. As the park is popular with families there is a large playground that has soft sand as a base. This is fenced with a gate. I have noticed the times I have been with my granddaughter that older children when coming home from school tend to play on the swings and roundabouts that are too small for them. There should really be a sign stating that these features are for small children only. A good idea to wear old shoes when walking in the playground as the sand is fine and very dusty. Another favourite area is the lake under the willow trees with the parade of ducks who sometimes like to swim on the lake but most of the time walk around the sides and through the park just like small soldiers marching on parade. They are quite tame and very comical to watch. Sadly the white water tower which is close to the lake and willows has been spoilt by graffiti artists who have sprayed the bottom of the building with paint. This looks untidy and a mess and not at all artistic. Like the fountain the tower was designed by Henryk Marconi in a classical style and is a very attractive building that adds a bit of style to the park. Hopefully the park authorities will clean up the walls and have the graffiti removed. Finally as you walk to the very north west part of the park you will find the monument that took me four years to find - the monument dedicated to children's writer, poet and feminist, Maria Konopnicka. The reason I couldn't find it is because it is hidden behind shrubs and bushes. Most visitors choose Saski Garden as their favourite park. I like the park but it isn't one of my favourites as it has a very upper class feel to it and you generally see groups of young people behaving rather pretentiously as they practise their yoga or tightrope walking. Sometimes even choirs group together and practise their scales. I much prefer the down to earth urban parks on the outskirts of town where you have to dodge out of the way of 50 year old skateboarders and the like and there are so many modern statues and exciting pieces of art work to look at. Saski is just a bit too fuddy duddy for my taste. Also, I have noticed that it isn't the best park in Warsaw to walk around as a lot of the concreted paths are uneven with tree roots pushing flags up so not very good for wheelchair users or anyone who has a dodgy leg. If you would like to visit Saski Park you will find it is located between Marszakowska and Krolewska Street and Pilsudski Square. A very central location which can be reached by walking from the Stare Miasto or from Central Station along Marszalkowska.