“ Sightseeing Type: Castles / Palaces „
On the south side of the Old Town in Warsaw lies the monumental red brick building known as the Royal Castle. The building which has been reconstructed in minute detail and has been enrolled on the UNESCO World Heritage List along with the Old Town totally dominates this part of the Old Town.
Having waked past the castle on numerous occasions and visited the magnificent interiors at least three times I am still not sure whether I like the exterior of the building. I find the bright red colour of the bricks too outlandish and the overall size of the complex too large for the area it has been reconstructed in. Although, in winter the building looks far more attractive especially in the evening when the exterior delicately glows with small golden lights against a backdrop of soft bleached snow. I have always thought this winter scene would make a wonderful illustration for a classic Christmas card.
Some of the original furnishings were stored away as far as Canada during the Second World War when the castle was burnt by the German army in 1939 and blown up in 1944. In 1971 the re-building took place and the project was completed in 1988. The reconstructed building recalls the residence as it was in the first half of the 18th century when the facade on the side of the Vistula river was remodelled in the rococo style.
During the evacuation of the building in 1944, employees of the National Museum were able to save some furniture, paintings, carvings and elements of the woodwork.
The Gothic history of the castle is recalled by the vaulting of the cellars. An interesting feature of the first floor and worth visiting is the famous Canaletto Hall. Here you will see a collection of views of Warsaw and the surrounding area with their highly detailed architectural style which give a vivid description of 18th century Warsaw. There are 22 paintings in this gallery and they were painted by Bernardo Bellotti Canaletto (1720 -80). Bernardo was the nephew of the famous painter from Venice, Antonio Canaletto (Canale).
The most attractive hall is the Ballroom or sometimes called the Great Hall. The hall's 17 gilded columns are very pleasant to look at and the hall has one of the largest Polish plafonds depicting magical motifs from mythology. In the halls of the Diet and the Senate, paintings by Jan Matejko are hung. The most interesting painting is the famous depiction of the Constitution of 3rd May. In rooms on the second floor, the studio of Stefan Zeromski, a famous Polish writer, has been reconstructed and brought to life. This floor particularly interested me as I am always interested in how other artists' and writers' studios looked and if they were as untidy as mine.
There are many rooms to wander around and have a nosy but to be honest I have never found it a really enjoyable experience although I can admire the tapestries, art, marble and the exquisite interiors - there is always a cold, ghostly feeling and if you go with a tour guide (who are not generally that helpful) which I have on one occasion it always feels like you are in a funeral procession.
The Marble Room is breathtaking and used to be the location of the famous Thursday Dinners when King Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski met each week with the leaders of the Enlightenment. Poniatowski was known for his great love of culinary delights and in most Polish traditional cookery books you will often see a few words at the bottom of recipes spoken by the Poland's famous gourmand.
The room is decorated with brightly coloured marble and paintings of Polish Kings painted by Marcello Bacciarelli and Jan Bogumil Piersch. . The new plafond is a recreation of original work by two artists, Stefan Garwatowski and Jan Karczewski.
The Royal Castle (Zamek Krolewski) can be found in the castle square watched over by the Sigismund Column, a popular place for visitors to stop and take photographs and a meeting place for friends. Great place to sit and eat your zapiekanka ( a toasted baguette with mushrooms, cheese and oodles of ketchup).
Opening times are Tues- Sat 10am - 6pm, Sunday 11am - 6pm. The castle closes at 4pm from October until April.
Throughout the year temporary exhibitions are held in some of the galleries. Information regarding exhibitions can be found at the Tourist Information office which is situated just a short walk away not far from Sigismunds Column.
For more information and prices regarding the Royal Castle and Square take a look at the website - www.zamak-krolewski.com.pl
The castle plays a dual role today, a royal palace and official residence of the Polish monarchs. It is located at the plac Zamkowy in Warsaw and is considered a historical and national monument.