Secret tunnel found below 17th century church built for wife of King Jan III Sobieski
Archaeologists have found a mysterious tunnel in Warsaw that is over 300 years old.
The discovery was made underneath a church in the residential neighbourhood of Żoliborz in northern Warsaw.
It was found during an archaeological dig led by Michał Grabowski, a specialist on historical monuments and archaeological heritage.
Dating back to the 17th Century, the church was originally built as the summer residence of Queen Marie Casimire (1641-1716), the wife of King Jan III Sobieski.
Born into a noble family in France, she moved to Poland as a child as a lady-in-waiting to the French-born queen, Marie Louise Gonzaga.
Eventually, in 1665, she married Jan III Sobieski, who was elected King of Poland in 1672.
Renovation work on the church has been underway for the past few years.
Already, the roof has been repaired and the façade restored.
Lined with bricks, the tunnel is built into the raised bit of ground that the church stands on.
According to Łukasz Traczyk of the Institute of Art History at the University of Warsaw, the finding is part of a genuine wall from the late 17th Century.
People had known about it earlier, but it was not until the plaster was removed recently that its significance could be appreciated, he explained.
Preliminary research indicates that the wall, which is around a metre thick, supported the terrace at the Queen’s residence.
The hole in the wall, which stretches back deeper into the ground, appears to have been the entrance to the coach house beneath it.
Further research in coming weeks is expected to shed more light on the discovery.