Located just 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) from Warsaw’s central district, Śródmieście, is Lazienki Park. The park forms part of Warsaw’s Royal Route, which connects the Royal Castle with various churches, palaces, and other historical buildings. Lazienki is a Polish word that roughly translates to “baths park,” a fitting name as the park was originally constructed as a baths park for nobleman Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski in the 17th century. However it is often referred to as Royal Baths Park because of its connections of Polish royalty. In the 18th century, Polish king Stanisław August transformed the park by adding palaces, villas, and statues. It became a public park in 1918. Today it covers a staggering 760 acres (307.56 hectares) and includes different style gardens, impressive water features and even palaces. It is open dawn to dusk and entrance is free, making it an ideal spot for a morning jog, a pleasant picnic, or a moonlight stroll. It is also a popular venue for musical and cultural events, as well as home to a diverse mix of animals.
Peruse the beautiful gardens
One of the most fascinating aspects of the park is the variety of cultures and styles that are represented. This is especially obvious in the various gardens scattered throughout the park. There is a Chinese garden complete with reflecting pools, foot bridges, red lanterns, and pavilions. Once you step inside this oasis it’s easy to forget that you’re in Poland, not China!
The Twentieth-Century Modernist Garden is located just a short walk from the Chinese garden. This garden style is the result of changing trends in landscape architecture, notably in regards to the layout and composition. Its design is characterized by a mixture of geometric shapes, such as squares and circles, with more organic English-style gardens. Here, take a rest on one of the many benches as you relax and admire the flowers.
In addition to these two gardens, there is also the Royal Garden that surrounds various villas and the Nineteenth-Century Romantic Garden complete with a view of the Belvedere Palace and an artificial river. Although there are a wide variety of styles, these gardens fit together seamlessly making for a harmonious and beautiful visit.
Tour the Palace on the Isle
This palace dates back to the 17th century and is one of the oldest elements in the park. Originally constructed as a Baroque Bathhouse, King Stanisław August transformed it into a neoclassical summer residence. The palace architects were inspired by Italian architecture, in particular the Villa Borghese and the Villa Medici. It was constructed to symbolize the dream of a modern and sovereign state.
Today the palace overlooks a small lake and is surrounded by lush trees and statues. The interior décor is absolutely sublime; marble floors, gold-plated ceilings, and crystal chandeliers abound. Entrance is 25 PLN (6.20 USD), but free admission is offered on Thursdays. Unless you go with a group, your tour will be self-guided. This gives you the opportunity to spend your time reading about the rooms that interest you most. Besides the typical rooms of a house, there is a ballroom, a bathing room, and a chapel.
Art fans, especially those who are interested in Dutch and Flemish works, will enjoy the large selection of portraits. The palace contains 2,289 pieces from King Stanisław August’s personal collection, including works from Rubens and Rembrandt. For the king, the artwork was not solely a form of decoration, but rather a means of addressing political, social, and economic matters so as to shape the Polish national identity. The carefully selected and displayed collection certainly attests to the king’s commitment to this objective.
Relax at the Trou Madame Café
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
After walking around the gardens and touring the Palace on the Isle, you’ll probably need some refreshments. That’s where the Trou Madame Café comes in. It is housed in a former guardhouse and is located behind the amphitheater near the palace. If you visit on a warm day, soak up some sun on the outdoor terrace as you enjoy your drink or snack. There is a wide selection of coffees, beers, and cocktails. For food, the café offers up sweet and savory pancakes, huge ice cream sundaes, and a variety of pies. If you just want to grab a quick bite or a hot drink, there is also a small stand serving up waffles, coffee, and mulled wine to go. Coffee costs about 16 PLN (4.00 USD) and pancakes range from 13 PLN to 19.50 PLN (3.20 USD to 4.85 USD).
Plan your visit today
As mentioned previously, the park is open seven days a week and entrance is free. During the winter season (October 16 to April 15) The Palace on the Isle is open on Monday from 11.00 AM to 4.00 PM and from 10.00 AM to 4.00 PM Tuesday to Sunday. From April 16 to October 15 the palace is open until 6.00 PM Tuesdays through Sundays. Wearing comfortable shoes is recommended as the park is quite large and there are some steep inclines throughout the park. Walking from the city center is feasible and the route is well-marked. If not, several buses pass right in front of the park (check the website for which number to take depending on where you’re leaving from).
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