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You may think this is a boring subject to review - a University but I can assure you that it is anything but boring. The neighbourhood of Warsaw University shelters a number of palaces, churches and townhouses, making it an attractive destination for tourists.
This university which vies with the Jagellonian University of Krakow for the title of Poland's most respected seat of learning - occupies a suitably grand location on Krakowskie Przedmiescie, Warsaw's own version of the Champs Elysee. Established in 1816 after the partition of Poland, the university employs more than 5,500 people, who look after around 55,000 students.
A walk around the university's main campus is one of the most enjoyable diversions a visitor to Warsaw can take. A genuine campus-like atmosphere greets you as you wander through the grand main gates, where inside a number of fantastic period buildings and palaces set amongst leafy courtyards, exude erudition and learning from every brick. Students sit on benches reading books, smoking, drinking and a few hurry between buildings scurrying from lecture to lecture. It all creates an atmosphere pulsating with life, which only the summer holidays can subdue.
Here are some of the buildings you will see as you walk around the campus:
Kosciol Opieki sw Jozefa i Klasztor Wizytek
(Church of St Joseph's Care and Convent of the Sisters of the Marian Visitation)
The construction of the first wooden church on this site was begun around 1654 by Queen Marie Louise Gonzga de Nevers; the second brick church rose gradually over the period 1728-65, the slow pace caused by issues arising from a miscalculation of the weight of its domes. Happily, the church went on to survive the Second World War and has remained unchanged in its late Baroque and Rococo style. Particularly eye-catching features are the white interior, the boat shaped pulpit and the angel holding a sail; the pulpit symbolises the institution of the Church, sailing on through storms that beset it.
For me, the most impressive building in the complex is the magnificent Kazimierzowski Palace, originally built in 1637 as the main residence of King Jan11 Kazimierz, from where it takes its name. Destroyed and rebuilt at least four times since then, it has served as the rectorate of the university since 1960. The latest renovation of the palace was completed only in 2006, and has left it looking better than ever: a treasure of Neo-Classical architecture and one of Warsaw's finest buildings..
This palace was built for Ludwik Tyszkiewicz in 1792 and is regarded as one of the most delightful classical buildings in Warsaw, crowned by a cartouche presenting the Potocki family coat of arms, they having bought the palace from the Tyszkiewicz family in 1840. The palace now hosts the Old Print and Drawing Office.
Yet another palace to view. This was constructed in 1713-18 to become home to a number of notable families. In 1826 Fryderyk Chopin's parents rented a flat there and visitors today may admire his parlour. I don't know what you would expect the parlour to look like but it reminded me of an old fashioned Christmas card with the fireplace and piano placed in front of a window and the walls adorned with family photographs.
At present the palace is the seat of the Academy of Fine Arts and its courtyard is decorated with a copy of the famous monument to Condolieri, Capitano Generale della Repubblica Veneta Bartolomeo Calleoni (don't you just love Italian as a language?), who was the commander of an army of mercenaries fighting for Venice. Sculpted by a Florentine artist Andrea del Verocchio (his original work standing in Venice, this copy was cast in Szczecin in Poland for the local National Museum's collection of Renaissance monuments, but transferred to Warsaw to compliment the collection of Medieval art.
Uruski Palace was constructed in 1744-47 for S Uruski, a count who bought his aristocratic title. This present building is not the first however, as there was once a palace here belonging to the father of Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski, the last King of Poland. It was in that building that Stanislaus learnt of his election as king, an event commemorated by a monument standing in the courtyard.
Koscioisw. Kryza (Holy Cross Church)
This is an easy recognisable building owing to a black monument of Christ bearing a cross with the inscription Sursum Corda ('Lift up your hearts'). Built in the years 1679-96 its most precious treasure is the urn containing the heart of the Polish national composer Fryderyk Chopin, which is embedded in the first pillar on the left in the main nave. The heart was brought from France to Warsaw by Chopin's sister Ludwika, the young Frederyk having come to play the organ here. Another urn holds the heart of the nobel prize-wnning writer Wladyslaw Reymont. The church was and still is famous for patriotic performances, and as a result the epitaphs of several notable Poles may be found here, for instance those of the writer B Prus, the poets JI Kraszewski and J Slowacki.
A Little info about Warsaw's Student's
The universities students have long been at the vanguard of Poland's struggle against invaders and occupiers. The university was even closed for in 1830 after its students took part in the Cadet Rebellion against the Russian Empire, and reopened only in 1863. Similarily, many students - who were studying in secret, the Nazi's having closed the university in 1939 - joined the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, determined to recapture the campus from the Wermacht, who had taken it over for use as adminstrative offices and an officer training school. Alas, the campus gates, so impressive today, proved impenetrable, and hundreds of students were killed before the game was given up. By the time of the Nazi withdrawal later in the year more than two thirds of the university had been destroyed - some of it deliberately by the vengeful Nazis - and more than 80 per cent of the university's library and art collection had been looted.
Walking around the campus today you would never think that such things had happened in its vicinity as there is always an air of frivolity, youthfulness and enthusiasm. The University is a wonderful place to visit and it isn't tucked away miles from the city centre like some universities are. The whole area has a lively feel to it - a modern feel. It's as if the ghosts have been laid to rest and life is now moving on for the students of this wonderful university.
Is located on Krakowskie Przedmiescie Street in the centre of Warsaw, Poland. It is Polands second best university.