Fifty years ago today Lubomirski Palace was cut from its foundations and ROTATED 74 degrees - to fit ‘aesthetic vision’ of city planners
Fifty years ago one of the strangest construction operations began in Warsaw.
The Lubomirski Palace was cut from its foundations and rotated 74 degrees to fit an architectural vision by aligning it with the Saxon Axis and the Tomb of Unknown Soldier.
The 'moving palace’, now located on Iron-Gate Square 10 (Plac Żelaznej Bramy 10), didn’t fit the urban plan of post-World War II Warsaw. For both the construction of a nearby housing estate and the location of the so-called Saxon Axis (a historical urban axis running through the Saxon Garden, the Tomb of Unknown Soldiers, the no-longer-existing Saxon Palace, and Krakowskie Przedmieście street to the Vistula river), the alignment of the palace was interfering with the architectural concept.
Following an idea by Marian Spychalski, an architect and the Polish Army's communist Marshal, rather than remove the historic monument, which had been freshly rebuilt after the war, it was better to turn the palace around.
In this way, it covered the market place Hala Gwardii, then considered ugly, now revitalised and hip, made space for the housing estate and closed the Saxon Axis.
Engineer Aleksander Mostowski designed the method for moving the 8,000-tonne building without damaging its structure. First, the 65-metre-long, 18-metre-wide palace was cut off from the walls of adjacent outbuildings and its foundations.
Then, special beams and tracks were placed underneath. Every day, the palace was moved about 1.5 degrees on 16 tracks and after 49 days it reached its final location, where it can still be found today.
Although it was 20th century authorities that finally moved the palace, it had been a thorn in the side of city planners for 200 years. In 1713, King Augustus II the Strong from the Saxon dynasty wanted to demolish the palace as it distorted the space around his Saxon Palace and the Saxon Axis. In the end, the king didn’t have the funds to go through with his idea.
The Lubomirski Palace was opened circa the year 1712 by the Radziwiłł family. It changed hands quite often, from Radziwiłłs to architect Jan Zygmunt Deybel and finally to Aleksander Lubomirski. Curiously, the only Pole who was executed during the French Revolution lived there – Aleksander’s wife Rozalia Lubomirska (she was decapitated in June 1793).
After the partition of Poland, the palace was appropriated by the government for offices. During the November Uprising Polish militants took it over and used as a field hospital.
Over the years the palace would fall into decline, housing anything from small apartments, shops, markets, public dancing halls, and even a synagogue.
The palace was damaged by bombs in the first days of World War II and then burned by Germans during the Siege of Warsaw.
As a monument of historic value, it was rebuilt in the years 1947-1950 under the direction of Tadeusz Żurowski and following the late 18th century classicist plan by Jakub Hempel.