Palace of the Koniecpolscy family, the Radziwiłł family, (Governor’s Palace) – Palace of the Council of Ministers, Currently Presidential Palace, Warszawa
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Palace of the Koniecpolscy family, the Radziwiłł family, (Governor’s Palace) – Palace of the Council of Ministers, Currently Presidential Palace

Warszawa

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The palace, which is used today as the seat of the President of the Republic of Poland, stands out with its impressive and spectacular body among many historical building on Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, located within the borders of the historical area of Warsaw registered as a Monument of History. It is comprised of a complex of buildings coming from the subsequent stages of the construction. Corps de logis was created as an early-Baroque magnate palace, which was converted in the late Baroque style and then extended in the Classicist style, and supplemented with annexes on subsequent stages. Over the centuries, the most eminent architects worked on it on the behest of mighty families and the highest officials. The building, which has survived the devastation of World War II, represents unique artistic and historical features. In its interior, many events important for the history of Poland were held.

History

In 1635, Great Crown Hetman Stanisław Koniecpolski purchased a plot of land located on the Vistula river escarpment by Krakowskie Przedmieście which is a representative route connecting two royal residences. In the place of a wooden manor house, he ordered, in 1643, a palace to be constructed - probably according to a design by Constantino Tencalla, the royal architect of king Władysław IV. The works were carried out under the direction of the Hetman’s architect, Łukasz Dąbrowski. This early-Baroque palace, reminiscent of the Roman Barberini palace, stood out against the background of the then Warsaw architecture. It was a two-storey building with a mezzanine, built on a rectangular floor plan with avant-corps on the side axes of the longer façades which were connected in the front by an arcaded loggia. Due to the sloping terrain, the building rests on a brick platform. From the river, the platform formed a terrace with a cave, opening to the garden with three arcades in the retaining wall. From the street, the building was preceded by a courtyard housing utility buildings and a fence with a driveway in the centre. In the years 1646-1659, the residence belonged to Aleksander Koniecpolski, son of Stanisław, who completed the construction in 1655 and most probably renovated the palace after the Swedish invasion. Then, the residence was inherited by Aleksander’s son, Stanisław, who sold it, in 1661, to Great Hetman and Chancellor of the Crown Jerzy Sebastian Lubomirski who extended the property. In 1674, the property was bought by Vice-Chancellor Michał Kazimierz I Radziwiłł, married to king John III Sobieski’s sister. However, the Radziwiłł family became the only owners of the residence as late as 1685. In 1694, Karol Stanisław I Radziwiłł hired royal architect Agostino Locci and Carlo Ceroni, cooperating with the former, and then also Andrzej Jeziornicki, to transform the interior and surroundings of the residence. In 1705, the palace was a residence of king Stanisław Leszczyński. Further modernisation works were conducted after 1719 by Karol Bay, and works connected with drying the always damp cave had been carried out since 1728 by Domenico Cioli. In the years 1755-1762, Grand Hetman of Lithuania Michał Kazimierz II, also known as Rybeńko, ordered the conversion of the neglected palace on the basis of the designs by Jan Zygmunt Deybel, architect of the Saxon Construction Office, prepared earlier. To corps de logis, transformed in the Late Baroque style, one-storey wings were added from the front. The whole was covered with high roofs, stepped from the east and in all avant-corps. The interior was provided with Rococo décor. The works were carried out by court architects: Augustyn Roszkowski, and thereafter by Tadeusz Jakimowicz. In addition, the garden was extended on the south. In 1762, the palace was inherited by Karol Stanisław II, also known as “Panie Kochanku” [“My Dear Sir”]. The building, which was not used by the owner who stayed in Lithuania, were leased for various purposes. In 1766, public games called reduty were held here, and as of 1774, the rooms of the palace were used by a theatre - first of Józef Kurc, and then of Franciszek Ryx, as well as foreign theatre ensembles. Stanisław August Poniatowski had his lodge here. In the years 1778-1782, Radziwiłł, having removed the artists by force, ordered that the interior be transformed. Major public meetings, balls, masquerades, and grand dinners were still held here. A dozen or so years ago, emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and tsar Alexander I visited the residence. Frederic Chopin gave the first concert in his life here at the age of eight. In 1818, the palace was bought from the Radziwiłł family by the government of the Kingdom of Poland and designated to serve as a residence of General Józef Zajączek. The building was converted then according to a design by Chrystian Piotr Aigner, in the Classicist style with references to Italian Renaissance. The roof was lowered and the wings were extended. Connectors to corps de logis were added, façades were provided with new décor, sculptures by Paweł Maliński were placed on the roof parapet. From the north, a corner outbuilding was added and a wing annex, and the courtyard was partitioned with fences, with external ones adorned with pairs of stone lions sculpted by Camillo Landini. During the November Uprising, the palace was used as the seat of the government, and after the fall of the Uprising, various offices were placed in it. It housed, among other things, the Personal Office of Governor Count Iwan Paskiewicz-Erywański. His monument stood in front of the palace in the years 1870-1917. In 1852, as a result of a fire, the interiors over the ground floor of corps de logis were destroyed. They were rebuilt by architect Alfons Kropiwnicki. The palace still housed offices of General Governors. Chamber concerts were organised there, as well as a great ball for tsar Alexander II. Various public events were organised in the palace. Among other things, in 1879, there was a display of the painting “Battle of Grunwald” by Jan Matejko. During World War I, German authorities resided in the palace. In the years 1918-1924, after it was taken over by the authorities of the reborn Poland, a throughout renovation according to a design by Marian Lalewicz was ordered, and the building was designated for the seat of the prime minister and the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Poland. To the palace buildings, a tenement house from the late 18th century, adjoining it from the northern wing, was included, and stairs leading to the garden were added on the edges of the terrace. During World War II, the building was taken over by Germans. They transformed it into a Deutsches Haus - a luxurious hotel with casino for the officers of the Third Reich according to a design by Juliusz Nagórski and Jan Łukasik. In 1945, offices of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers of the Polish People’s Republic were placed in the surviving building. In the years 1947-1952, restoration and modernisation works according to a design by Teodor Bursche, Antoni Jawornicki, and Borys Zinserling were conducted in the palace. The interior was transformed, and the terrace from the side of the garden was extended - the retaining wall from the 17th century was covered, and new stairs were added. The palace served as a residence and official seat of the prime minister and state offices. In 1990, renovation of the building was commenced. In 1993, the Council of Ministers left the palace. In 1994, the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland took over the palace and works aimed at adapting it to serve as a seat of the head of the state were started. Among other things, a chapel according to a design by Jerzy Kalina was arranged on the ground floor. The outbuilding in the north-eastern corner was converted and a connector to corps de logis was added to it. After the completion of the renovation in 1997, works on the interior décor were still under way. In 2000, the construction of the pavilion of the Winter Garden on the terrace, at the gable walls of corps de logis and the southern wing, according to a design by Teresa Dobiszewska, were completed. Since 1994 the palace has served as a residence of subsequent presidents, expect for Bronisław Komorowski, who chose to reside at Belweder.

Description

The palace is located on the Warsaw Escarpment on the eastern side of Krakowskie Przedmieście St. From the street, it is preceded by symmetrical, long wings (with a wider section from the west) embracing a two-part representative courtyard. From the east, there is a garden descending in terraces towards Furmańska Street. From the north, the palace complex borders the church and monastery of Discalced Carmelites, and from the south - the Bristol Hotel and buildings at Karowa Street. In the external appearance of the palace, the forms with which it was provided in the early 19th century by Chrystian Piotr Aigner were preserved. The two-storey corps de logis with a mezzanine, built on a rectangular floor plan, with avant-corps on the edges of the longer sides, is covered with a sheet metal hip roof. In the front façade, 3-axial avant-corps brace the 7-axial middle section whose ground floor features rusticated arcades above which the façades are articulated by Corinthian columns in the giant order. In side avant-corps, the rusticated ground floor is articulated with arcaded panels with windows, and in the upper storeys - pilasters analogical to the columns. Walls of piano nobile are decorated with blind baluster balustrades, pediments and surrounds of large windows, as well as panels with a recurring motif of a winged putto. The surrounds of square windows of the mezzanine, extending sideways, are a relic from the times of construction of the palace. The front façade above the decorative entablature is topped with a roof parapet (of balustrade-plinth type in the central section) with figures of mythological gods, with replicas of sculptures by Malinowski made in 1929 among them. The garden façade features an analogical layout as the front façade - its horizontal partitions are distinctively accentuated with cornices. Avant-corps with rusticated corners embrace in the central part the balcony on the first floor, resting on 6 Tuscan columns. The façade is preceded by a terrace laying on the original retaining wall, covered after 1945 with new stairs with arcaded entrance on the axis. At the gable-end façades, a connector to the outbuilding has been recently added from the garden from the north, and from the south - Winter Garden topped with a glazed cupola. The two-storey side wings of the palace, with gable roofs, are set perpendicularly to the high connectors on the sides of corps de logis. Their 27-axial façades feature quite modest décor reminiscent of the decoration of the front façade (rusticated ground floor with arcaded panels). The 3-axial gable-face walls by the street, with a niche embraced with Ionic columns in the giant order and the balcony on the first floor are an exception. A long annex designed by Aigner and converted by Lalewicz is incorporated into the northern wing from the side of the church of Carmelites. The western section of this wing is also adjoined by a four-storey post-Carmelite tenement house of 1781 designed by Efraim Schroeger, converted in approx. 1870 according to a design by Józef Dietrich and showing features of the 18th and the 19th century. From the east, the monastery buildings neighbour a small outbuilding created in 1819 and converted in 1994. Since 1965, there has been a replica of the monument of Duke Józef Poniatowski in the front courtyard. The palace interiors were many times converted. Currently, they gained splendour thanks to many works of art: pictures, sculptures, furniture, and historical bric-a-brac. Décor of the Ball Room (which, in terms of size, gives way only to the Royal Castle room) reflects most closely the premises of the Aigner’s design.

The historic monument is accessible. The interiors are rendered available for visiting on certain occasions, e.g. during the celebrations of the European Heritage Days.

compiled by Małgorzata Laskowska-Adamowicz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warszawa, 08-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Karta Ewidencyjna, Pałac Koniecpolskich, Radziwiłłów, Namiestnikowski, Rady Ministrów obecnie Prezydencki, oprac. Józef Pilch, Warszawa 2000 r., Archiwum Narodowego Instytutu Dziedzictwa
  • Bania Z., Jaroszewski T.S., Pałac Rady Ministrów, Warszawa 1980
  • Jaroszewski T. S., Księga Pałaców Warszawy, [bmw]1985
  • Karpowicz M,. Artyści włosko-szwajcarscy w Polsce I połowy XVII wieku, Warszawa 2013
  • Kwiatkowski M., Głogowski M., Pałac Prezydencki, Wrocław 2004
  • Kwiatkowska M. J., Kwiatkowski M., Historia Warszawy XVI-XX wieku, Warszawa 1998
  • Popławska Bukało E., Laskowska-Adamowicz M., Pałac i ogród Prezydenta Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej przy Krakowskim Przedmieściu w Warszawie, „Ochrona Zabytków”, 2013, nr 1-4, s. 39-62
  • Putkowska J., Architektura Warszawy XVII wieku, Warszawa 1991
  • Zieliński J., Atlas dawnej architektury ulic i placów Warszawy, Warszawa 2001

General information

  • Type: palace
  • Chronology: 1643 - 1655
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Krakowskie Przedmieście 46/48, Warszawa
  • Location: Voivodeship mazowieckie, district Warszawa, commune Warszawa
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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