Historic Warsaw garden has rosy future after making it on to prestigious heritage list
An historical garden in the centre of Warsaw has been entered onto the heritage protection list by the Masovia Conservator of Historic Monuments.
The 300-year-old garden has been part of the Saxon Garden since 1948, but before that it was the private garden of a palace that still stands at the north-west corner of the 18th-century park complex.
The garden can be found at the back of the Blue Palace at the corner of Senatorska and Marszałkowska streets near Bankowy square. The palace, named after the historical colour of the roof despite its current green colour, was the property of Count Zamoyski prior to being nationalised in 1948.
In one of the largest reprivatisation cases in Warsaw, heirs of the count sold their claim to a private businessman, who received the property in 2000. Meanwhile, the Zamoyski family still maintained their claim to the garden, which they regained in 2012.
After the change in ownership, the palace, which in communist times was a Warsaw public transport office, was left to fall into greater disrepair and was even a popular spot for rough sleepers. In recent years, however, it has offered a lifeline to the recently homeless Jewish Theatre, which became nomadic when its base on Grzybowski square was torn down to make way for a new skyscraper.
Very little has changed in the garden since the Zamoyskis regained ownership as strict rules forbid any kind planting or building on the site. Early talk of a temporary café has come to nothing.
Heritage conservator Jakub Lewicki justified the entry onto the list saying that the garden has important historical value. “The area, which has continued its historical function for nearly 300 years, despite being subject to numerous stylistic transformations, is still a clear element of the original planning concept,” he said on the website of the Masovia heritage conservator.
He pointed out that the garden is a valuable element of one of the oldest representative parts of central Warsaw. “The garden is one of the oldest areas of greenery in the city. In addition, it is a material reminder of the royal patronage of the Saxon era and the activities of eminent architects and designers of greenery: Carl Friedrich Pöppelmann and James Savage,” he wrote.
The palace’s Saxon pedigree goes back to 1726 when Poland’s first Saxon ruler August II the Strong gifted the complex to his daughter. It was her wish for the roof to be painted blue, which can be seen clearly in Bernardo Bellotto’s painting of it from 1779.
The palace changed many times over the years until it was partially destroyed in 1994, after which it was rebuilt. The garden has also changed its character several times. According to the Lewicki, in 1725-1816 it laid out in baroque style.
However, when in 1816 the neighbouring Saxon Garden was transformed into a landscaped English park according to the concept of English gardener James Savage, the same changes were introduced in the garden of the Blue Palace. It remained in this shape until World War II.