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St. Alexander's Church (Warsaw, Poland)

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Roman Catholic church located in Warsaw, Poland.

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      26.08.2011 10:59
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      Not a bad looking church

      St Alexander's Church is situated right in the centre of Three Cross Square in Warsaw. It's very easy to find and can be seen from Nowy Swiat and from the monument dedicated to Charles de Gaulle on Jerozolimskie Avenue. This is one of the more elite areas in Warsaw, situated on the Royal Tract, close to Lazienki Park, Sheraton Hotel and many foreign embassies. You will often see limousines dashing through and there always seems to be something going on. It's a nightmare to cross the road here as the square is hectic with traffic and buses. The best way to reach the church entrance is to cross the road near the traffic lights as you come to the end of Nowy Swiat. The traffic isn't quite as bad here and you can cross safely without be knocked to the ground. I am not exaggerating - the driving is hellish!

      Before visiting the church I had read quite a lot about it from various guide books and on line so when I actually came face to face with the building I was a bit disappointed. I expected a white building, monumental in size. Compared with all the other churches I have seen this one is small and not white at all. It's more of a creamy shade with a jade roof. Even though it is smaller than I anticipated it is still too large for its location and looks like it has been dropped from the sky and just planted in the middle of a busy highway. I guess when it was built this wouldn't have been the case as this area was a more serene and elegant place.

      The actual spot where the church is situated, an island in the centre of the Square of the Three Crosses, was going to originally be the place for a triumphal arch. This arch was to commemorate the arrival of the Russian Tsar Alexander I who became king and gave the Polish kingdom a constitution. Instead St Alexander's church was designed and constructed from 1818-1825 by C P Aigner.

      The main body of the church is of a classical design and very rotund. If you have been to Rome you will notice the six column portico which is similar to the Pantheon. Throughout the years the church has changed style and after the Second World War the church was remodelled with one alteration, a lowered dome.

      I like the series of layered steps that lead you into the main entrance although I don't know how anyone in a wheelchair would be able to manage as there are a lot of steps and they are narrow. The church is huge inside and at first I stood at the door and just gawped as it is grandiose with gold dripping from the ceiling in the form of chandeliers, candelabras and crosses and white cloths everywhere edged with lacy, frilly bits. The semi circular wall at the back of the church in front of the altar is interesting. The wall is marble but has been sectioned into various oblongs edged with red and blue. Looks very effective but doesn't really go with the tiles on the floor of the church which are large black and white squares. I have never seen these sort of tiles in a church before. They look very 60s and the sort I remember seeing in villas in Portugal. Two sculptures I spotted and were both of Christ. The one I liked very much was the baroque sculpture which dates from the early 18th century. Christ is in his grave here and it is situated in the side altar. The other sculpture is a bronze crucifix. The art work on it is fascinating but I didn't like the overall appearance as I could see Christ's ribs sticking out and found it quite horrific.

      A service wasn't being held when I visited but there were a large number of people in the church saying their prayers. Masses are delivered in Latin and it is known that some of the priests organise special services for the deaf-mute and blind. There is an Institute for the Deaf-Mute and Blind opposite the church which was founded by Jakub Falkowski; a priest and humanitarian.

      St Alexander's Church is a pretty impressive piece of architecture and I do like this neo-classical design but there is just something missing. I didn't walk away feeling moved or emotional and I didn't have goosebumps which I usually do when walking into churches. For visitors to Warsaw I would say to still add this attraction on your list. It is worth seeing and the square has its own attractiveness with its cafes and trendy boutiques. Not far away is another star attraction - the National Museum so you could visit both on the same day. To reach Three Cross Square and St Alexander's Church take a 111 bus from Esperanto or take a stroll from NowySwiat but watch out for the traffic!

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