I did a walk one day to see one statue, but there wasn’t enough to do a blog post on it, so I have just put them into this blog, because, had I walked down a parallel street I would have passed this statue on on the way to the Castle.
I find the sidewalks here endlessly fascinating. Perhaps that is because I always have to be looking down at them. They looks so smooth, but are actually undulating. It is very easy to trip on them. There are many roads here which go around round or oval parks and plazas. Near my place I noticed how the bricks of the sidewalk were arranged with small slivers to allow the gentle curve of the sidewalk.
The monument that was the goal of my walk on the first day was the Jan Kiliński Monument, which is located just outside the reconstruction of the old city walls. It isn’t that I am truly interested in Polish history that far back. It is that it gave me a goal for my walk and got me out of the apartement to enjoy the good weather.
Nearby is a monument to Maria Konopnicka, who was a women’s rights activist and well as poet, novelist, children’s writer, translator, journalist, critic, and activist for and for Polish independence. I have noticed that a lot of the modern memorials are just barely shaped stones with engraving. I guess this works well, sence when I see one, I only think of the person or thing commemorated, not the quality of the artwork.
The dead giveaway that these photos were taken on different days is the sky. On the day I walked over to the Royal Castle, I waited until noon to head out, after the morning rains had stopped. I chose a Wednesday to go because that is the free admissions day.
I would have liked to link directly to the website of all the museums, rather than to Wikipedia, but it seems that a some of civic websites here have had their public key certificates expire or become obsolete. The Chrome Browser. will not let me navigate to those sites at the level of security I have set.
It was the first time I had been inside the Castle. Before I just skirted the outside walls. Above is the large courtyard behind the section of the castle that faces plaza with Sigismund’s Column. When I was picking up my free admissions pass at the ticket office, I noticed that the free ticket gives you a shorter route around the Castle. As it turned out, the shorter route just about matched my attention span.
The first section of the tour rove through the royal apartments, where the rooms themselves were the most important part of the display. Above is the Council Chamber used by Stanislaw August. The throne is original, the other furniture in the room are reproductions. Throughout the castle are objects which were removed before the destruction during WWII and have since been returned.
It is apparent that the Great Assembly Hall is now used for events. Chairs were arranged around a piano when I was there. This is the biggest room in the castle. This was sort of a royal living room, where the parties took place. I found it interesting (below) that there were faux windows in the areas up top, where the room was not part of the outside wall. They were set with mirrors, which reflected the light of the room in a manner to make spotting that they were fake hard.
Above and below is the Marble Room. Some of the the decorations here are originals, which were brought back as part of the reconstruction. When the Germans destroyed the building, more valuable objects, even including the central heating and ventilation installations, were looted and taken away to Germany.
The ceiling of the marble room seemed concave as one walks into the room. On closer inspection, the ceiling is completely flat. In this photo it actually seems to bow down a little.
The opulence of the rooms began to run into one another, so I didn’t try to get photos of all the rooms. It reminded me of walking through the Palacio Real de Riofrio, in Spain, without all the animal heads. I really want to go back to Spain! There is one room, I didn’t photograph, which I wish I had, Canaletto Room. The walls were plastered with paintings of famous landscapes.
My thought as I walked through was, “royal version of vacation postcards.” I remembered when I was stationed on a Coast Guard cutter in Boston. Back then the photo shop, where I had my photo developed, included a thin plastic frame in every envelope of prints. I found that they fit the larger postcards perfectly. I bought postcards of my favorite paintings at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to put into them.
I bought some thin adhesive magnets, so that I could stick the frames up to the steel bottom of the bunk above me. That way I had my own art gallery, in my tiny private space. Anyway the room in the Castle reminded me of my little gallery.
These two huge globes were covered with cloth on the sides towards the windows to keep them from being sun bleached. The one above is the terrestrial sphere, and the one below is the celestial sphere, showing the constellations as their mythical images. The person standing in the photo is an adult, not a child.
I only took one intentional photo of the floor, since it was the only one to grab my attention. The others might have been just as nice, but I couldn’t say.
Throughout the castle, guards were stationed in various areas to help guide the visitors through the exhibits. The chairs which were provided for the guards, were made clear, so that they blended into the background.
After the going though the first floor I went down into the ground floor. There were a lot of display cases of shiny things. I scooted past the crowd which jammed up there and made my way to the Old Council Chamber.
To each side of the chamber were stoves (heaters) constructed out of tiles found in the ruin of the castle. They reminded me of the heaters I saw at the prison. I had thought that the ones in the prison were constructed to keep the prisoners away from fire that they might use to make trouble or escapes. Now I realized, this is just how the heaters were made back then.
Once past the council chamber I came to the art galleries. For the most part, I didn’t find the art very intesteresting. Perhaps, if I knew more about Polish history, I would have found the paintings fascinating. As I worked my way through the clumps of tour groups, I spotted what I thought was a printing press. On closer inspection, I realized that it was a bookbinding press.
There was no placard explaining what it was. After I got home, I did a little googling to make sure I had identified it correctly. Good thing I did that before sending a photo to a friend who is a Gutenberg fanatic.
I passed through the galleries rather quickly until I was brought up short by two paintings, alone in a gallery. I had never seen either one before, and I have never taken an art appreciation class, so I was taken aback, when my mind told me, “Rembrandt.”
I am not sure if it was the paintings themself that affected me so much or if were the obvious reverence with which they were displayed. Perhaps I was picking up on general awe of the people quietly circling around the freestanding walls on which the paintings were fixed.
I noticed that people were spending a lot of time behind these walls. I wondered if there were more paintings back there. I walked around and found images of x-rays which had been made of the paintings on the front. The painting of the girl showed the image of a totally different girl in the underpainting.
Off to one side of the Rembrandts was a doorway to a roped off gallery. There were packing cases for artwork. I had seen that some of the paintings from the castle’s collection were out on loan. I found it interesting that where the paintings were missing, they had left the display lights on, focused on the notes explaining why they were gone. I couldn’t help but wonder if the missing works were in those boxes, either waiting to go out or ready to be unpacked and returned to their places.
Upon leaving the castle, I noted that it was between masses at the Church of the Holy Cross. It is the church where Chopin’s heart is enshrined. Unlike a lot of churches I have seen over the years in my travels, the Church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw, is a very active church with services going on throughout the day, every day.
As I was walking past the Church of the Carmelites. I noticed the unusual bell towers. I thought that is the same church I photographed once late at night, not knowing what it was, but liking the way it looked in the low light. However, on checking my photos I realized that it was a totally different edifice. There certainly a lot of churches in Warsaw.
A little further on, I saw Monument to Prince Józef Poniatowski, which was once in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Now it is in front of the presidential palace. The president of Poland no longer lives in the palace. Like many things in Poland this is considered controversial. When speaking about things with my friend she frequently prefaces what she tells me with, “It is controversial.”
Tourism is not encouraged at the Church of the Holy Cross, so even though the area around the church was crowded with tour groups, there were few people inside the church. I slipped in, and the first thing I noticed was chapple to one side dedicated to Saint John Paul II. I was drawn strait to that. I have always had a certain affection for John Paul, though I am not a christian. I came very close to meeting him once, but that is another story.
As I stood admiring the memorial, I was amused that under the bas-relief statue of the saint was one of those memorial rocks. Then I noticed a divot in the rock, set with a little glass or cristal window. Uhg, it was a relic. I still can’t stop thinking of what they must have done to the poor man’s body to send relics all over the world.
It is funny that seeing relics of saints before only made me slightly queasy, seeing a relic of a man I was once only a room away from once, really bugged me. Tearing myself away from staring at the relic, I walked quietly around the church. I spotted the bas-relief indicating the column where Chopines heart is located. It wasn’t much to look at.
There are no photos from inside the church, because there were signs requesting that no photos be taken. I can’t say that I blame them. I can just imagine someone trying to pray, while a hoard of tourist jockey in front of the Chopin column to take selfies.
After leaving the church, I wanted to get away from the touristy part of town fast, so I made my way towards Hala Mirowska, to buy some vegetables before going home. On my way I spotted another equestrian statue in front of another palace. This made me wonder if perhaps I had misremember where the statue from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier had been moved.
I stopped and took some photos so I could check. As it turned out I had not made a mistake. The statue in front of the Czapski Palace is a copy of Andrea del Verrocchio’s equestrian statue of the Venetian condottiere Bartolomeo Colleon.
One of the things I like about Warsaw, is that there are very few places where you can’t cut through parking lots and the grounds of buildings. As I was going through one such area, I saw a station where you could get a poop pick up bag and toss it when used. It had directions on how to clean up after your dog. I just loved the image of the dog. I think even if they didn’t have the detailed images of the procedure, the image of the dog would tell you what it all was for.
Google maps was trying to route me to the main road, when I took this shortcut and came out at the side of Hala Mirowska. I had always approached the market building from the main road before, and hadn’t seen that their was another building behind the first one. The outside areas of the market were much bigger than I realized also.
When I took the photo of the market building from the side, I didn’t even notice that a bird was coming right at me. At least it isn’t as bad at the folks who came home from their vacation and saw a mountain lion in the background of their photo.
Above was my haul from the market. To the right is a small red avocado. I shouldn’t have bought it, but I was just curious if it could be any good. It was okay, but I would rather wait until I am back in Mexico to buy avocados. The photo to the left only shows one pear, because I dropped the other one the tiled floor. I washed it off and ate it before the bruise could develop. The fall made it quite soft, but it tasted good.
The cherries are very delicate, with a very fragile skin, and have a subtle taste. The blueberries are from Spain. About half the blueberries very sweet and half are quite tart. I find them very nice to eat without cream or sugar. To give a scale, the bowl is a 10 inch bowl. The carrots are just very large and are destined for carrot soup.