Natural environment of the garden
The most important element of the Royal Castle Gardens are shaped hedges from hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) called bosquets , which originated from pre-war times. Nearly 80 trees survived in war and formed the basis for the historical reconstruction of the whole garden complex. The relict trees date back to 1937. The hedges reach the height of 6.5 m and are the habitat of many species of protected birds: lesser whitethroat (Sylvia curruca), blackbird (Turdus merula), nightingale (Turdus philomelos), linnet (Chloris chloris), icterine warbler (Hippolais icterina), magpie (Pica pica), crow (Corvus cornix).
In addition, the gardens are planted with ornamental cherries (Prunus cerrasifera), ash-leaf clones (Acer negundo), small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata), poplar (Populus alba), which form loose vegetative arrangements that do not form geometrical forms.
In the Upper Castle Garden, in the revalorisation process completed in 2015, 88 spherical maples (Acer platanoides ‘Globosum’) were planted into containers painted in royal colours. In addition, the garden was filled with boxwood hedges (Buxus sempervirens) arranged in compact lodgings or intricate patterns referring to the Baroque style. The length of boxwood hedges is over 2350 linear meters. There were also boxwood and yew (Taxus baccata) in the form of balls. The spaces designated by boxwood hedges are filled with seasonal flowers (Tulipa sp., Myosotis sp., Bellis sp., Lilium sp., Tagetes sp., Canna sp., Cosmos sp., Dalium sp., Begonia sp., Salvia sp., Coreopsis sp., Chrysanthemum sp.) and perennials (Hemerocallis sp., Rudbeckia sp., Astlibe sp., Brunnera sp., Pulmonaria sp., Digitalis sp.).
In the Upper Garden there are also four sandstone vases, planted with compositions from seasonal plants (Ipomea sp., Helichrysum sp., Pelargonia sp.).
Noteworthy is also the collection of large-flowered roses from the KORDES, TANTAU and MEILLAND breedings (‘Gospel’, ‘Leonardo da Vinci’. ‘Madamme Anisette’, ‘Chippendale’) and the roses grafted on the trunk (‘Duftfestival’).
The Lower Garden, in which there are historical grave hornbeams, is currently undergoing revalorisation (reconstruction process). Hornbeams have been supplemented with more than 1300 pieces of new hornbeam blocks (Carpinus betulus) and beech (Fagus sylvatica) forming new rows up to 3.5 m high. In addition, shiny cotoneaster (Cotoneater lucidus) and over 60 species of perennials and almost as many plant species will be planted seasonal.
Completion of works is planned for June 2019.
The entire area of the Royal Castle Gardens is within the reach of the NATURA 2000 area, the so-called ‘The Basin of the Central Vistula’. This is an area of special bird protection established because it is one of the ten most important breeding grounds in Poland of two species of birds threatened by extinction in the European Union: the common tern (Sterna hirundo) and the white-fronted tern (Sterna albifrons).
Historical background of the garden
The gardens have always been an important part of the Warsaw residence. Above all, however, they played an important role in the panorama of Warsaw from the Vistula side. In 2013, construction and conservation works were initiated to restore the perfect form of the completely damaged gardens, thereby completing the reconstruction of the Castle. The garden shows us its form for the first time in materials from 1581. As a result of the extension of the castle by Sigismund III Vasa at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, the towers of the Castle and a mighty wall with bastions appeared in the landscape. The garden had to give way to construction projects and was limited to a small space at the top of the escarpment. The king was a lover of plants and gardens, as did his sister Anna, and later daughter-in-law Cecylia Renata, who moved to Warsaw a great horticultural tradition of Florence, Mantua, Prague and Vienna. However, to create a magnificent garden, the area was lacking. King Stanisław August Poniatowski obtained it, commissioning works consisting in filling up a part of the river bed under the scarp. The terrace of the Castle was then decorated with trees arranged in two rows planted in pots painted in the colors of the royal coat of arms Ciołek. This decoration has been reconstructed according to Bernardo Bellotto’s painting ‘View of Warsaw from the terrace of the Royal Castle’. On the Vistula River, the garden was created only at the beginning of the 19th century. It was decided that this place, threatened by floods, will be decorated as a park – admittedly connected with the Castle, but public. For the implementation, Jakub Kubicki’s concept was selected from among several projects. The works that lasted from 1818 to 1830 led to the creation of a garden on the escarpment and under the escarpment, as well as the concealing of the old and still-needed urban street in the terrestrial tunnel that separates them. This tunnel, known as Kubicki Arcades, was an innovative solution to the communication problem, and at the same time was an original garden structure, on which the vault was made a “hanging garden”, compared then to the gardens of Semiramida. After the November Uprising, the surroundings of the Castle quickly gained military traits. In the inter-war period, efforts were made to restore the splendor of the devastated mansion. In 1937, work began in the garden. The final form of the project was given by Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz. At that time, a garden was created that processed baroque forms, with a huge recessed lawn in the middle and four formed bosquets on the sides. The outbreak of World War II did not allow to finish the works, and especially to create two avenues of fountains and a garden theater. Blowing up the castle did not disturb the garden. Unfortunately, the expansion of the road network after the war resulted in the removal of one-third of its surface from the lower garden. On this occasion, the trees of two bosquets were cut down. However, the remaining two survived. Eighty hornbeams testify to the pre-war past of the place. This relic – extremely valuable for the castle complex, almost completely destroyed – determined the direction of the current revalorisation of the gardens. They are to refer to interwar stylistics, both in the composition of space following the drawings of Szyszko-Bohusz, as well as in stone details, a bronze fountain, garden furniture or the selection and composition of plants.
Description of the Garden
The gardens of the Royal Castle in Warsaw cover a total of over 2 hectares and consist of two basic elements: the Upper Garden located closer to the residence on the roof of Kubicki Arcades and Lower Gardens located below the castle slope, on the foreland of the Vistula River. Upper Gardens have been revitalized in 2015, Lower are currently under reconstruction, which the Castle plans to finish in mid-2019.
The Gardens of the Royal Castle in Warsaw are entered together with Garden Terrace and the Castle in the register of monuments. The Old Town in Warsaw, in which the Gardens are located, was entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List by decision of September 1980. In the justification of the entry of the Old Town in Warsaw on the UNESCO World Heritage List, there was a reconstruction of the urban layout, the market square and tenement houses as well as the reconstruction of the Royal Castle. The reconstruction process was completed with the reconstruction of the Royal Castle. Therefore, the Royal Castle in Warsaw together with the Castle Gardens is not only an object located in the area included in the UNESCO list, but also sets a time frame for the reconstruction of the Old Town in Warsaw; is one of the most important elements of the entire reconstruction.
The Upper Garden, with an area of over 10 000 m2, is located on the roof of the Kubicki Arcades (a building that in the past combined composition of two parts of the gardens, hiding in its interior a road that was a physical division of the gardens). It is a kind of Garden on the Roof. It is located close to the residence, constituting an extension of its interior and immediate vicinity. It is located on a slope. The largest slope of garden lawns exceeds 60 degrees. It is a residential, representative garden that preserves the style of the inter-war period. The heart of the garden is the so-called The Lower Fountain located on the longitudinal axis of the Castle and the entire garden area. The fountain is made of sandstone bowl and patinated bronze chalice stylized on art deco. Its complement is a smaller fountain located in the immediate vicinity of the Castle. Granite paths are delimited diagonally and cross the slopes symmetrically on both sides of the axis. An important element are sandstone seats topped with a pair of vases in which seasonal flowers are planted. At the bottom of the escarpment, the so-called “Small Valley”, in which there are quarters designated with boxwood hedges filled with seasonal flowers. Benches were also erected in that part.
Most plantings are boxwood hedges and seasonal plants. An important element of the garden is also a collection of large-flowered roses located on the same line ending the Upper Garden. On the Garden Terrace located directly next to the building, 88 flower pots are laid out. Pots are decorated with patterns taken from Canaletto’s paintings. There is also so-called ‘Triangular Garden’ (Vasa’s Garden), which is located in the southern side of the garden. It is a specific reference to the Baroque. It contains intricate patterns arranged from boxwood hedges filled with perennials. There are also roses grafted on the trunk here.
From the Upper Garden there is a beautiful view of the Lower Garden, the Vistula River and the panorama of Warsaw. From the Upper Garden by Parade Stairs, you can go to the Lower Garden.
The Lower Garden of the Royal Castle (around 19 000m2) occupies the area from the Vistula side to the east of Kubicki Arcades. It is part of the garden shaped from at least the beginning of the 19th century.
It is currently under reconstruction. The revalorisation project aims to restore the artistic and historical values of the castle complex seen from the river. Reactivating the garden, primarily in the wake of the nineteenth and twentieth-century iconography, will make it possible to supplement the panorama of Warsaw from the Vistula river with an important element that has been missing so far. The basis of the Castle view below the Kubicki Arcades will be a varied, green space with various garden assumptions. On its northern side there will be already existing hornbeam trimmed bosquets. On the south side of the Lower Garden, plant forms imitating the full symmetry of the garden and park setting will be created.
The designed Lower Garden will refer to the period when, after regaining independence, and shortly before the outbreak of World War II, the renovated castle garden received a robe full of glamor based on the design of the outstanding architect Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz. Traces of this pre-war assumption have survived in the post-war photographs of the ruins of the Royal Castle, and some planting trees from this period have survived to this day.
The most important element of the reconstructed Garden will be a grass-like indenter formed in the shape of a garden amphitheater. Will be planted with many species of perennial plants. The granite stairs will lead the observers to the higher part of the gardens enclosed in molded beech logs. Hedges from cotoneaster also spice up planting. The oldest plant form are hornbeam bosquets with a height of over 6,5 m. They should be located on two sides of the garden axis, however, the transformation and development of the city made it impossible to recreate the southern part of the bosses. They are played only to the extent possible today.
The whole composition will be complemented by 12 fountains located symmetrically on two sides of the longitudinal axis of the garden. In the Lower Garden there will also be 25 sculptures, 10 sandstone vases over 100 benches. An important element is the illumination of light, which will highlight the beauty of the garden also at night.
The completion of works in the Lower Garden will complete the process of reconstructing the Castle gardens. They will constitute a compositional whole with historical, aesthetic and landscape value.
Upper Garden – reconstructed in 2015
The Lower Garden – currently in the process of reconstruction
(based on a garden assumption from the interwar period)
Brief description of the Interpretation Centre/Museum
The Center of Art watches over the entirety of works related to the interpretation of cultural heritage protection. His main task is:
1) care for expanding collections by collecting information about art objects offered
for purchase, drawing up opinions and expert opinions;
2) scientific elaboration of the collections of the Royal Castle, including: drawing up scientific catalog cards, research on the collections of the Royal Castle, entering data into the MONA system;
3) conducting research on the iconography of castle interiors, developing guidelines in the field of their interior design,
4) scientific preparation of the Foundation’s collections, operating at the Royal Castle;
5) enriching the permanent exhibition with new facilities in accordance with the findings of the Interior Committee;
6) supervision of the aesthetic state of museum interiors;
7) substantive supervision over the design and implementation of the castle gardens and their current ones care;
8) implementation of temporary exhibitions within the scope determined by the Director;
9) substantive guidelines for reconstruction works, commissioning of works and supervision over implementation;
10) improving qualifications through participation in scientific sessions and conferences, study trips and other forms of scientific information exchange;
The Castle as a Museum is a public institution subordinate to the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Castle also has the Historical Research Center. The duties of the Historical Research Center include:
1) developing and sharing in various forms information on the history of the Castle
Royal from the beginning of its existence to the present day;
2) conducting research on the history of the royal court, parliamentarism and institutions formerly headquarters in the Royal Castle; research on the history of castle collections and the history of collecting;
3) collecting and making available (according to the rules agreed with the Archive) documentation archival and iconographic on the subject of the former interior of the Royal Castle, their equipment and harvest;
4) collecting documentation on the former inhabitants of the Royal Castle and the fate of the works plays belonging to him in the past (in particular: revindication after the Treaty of Riga) 1921, history of State Art Collections, revindication issues in the context of losses incurred as a result of World War II);
5) ongoing consultations regarding the reconstruction of castle interiors.