Warsaw: Saxon Palace

Warsaw: Saxon Palace Warsaw: Saxon Palace

In September 1810 the Chopin family moved for good to Warsaw. Samuel Bogumił Linde offered Fryderyk's father the post of French teacher to the lower years at the Warsaw Lyceum secondary school. The Chopins moved into a second floor apartment in the right wing of the Saxon Palace (Krakowskie Przedmieście, plot no. 413). This building housed the Lyceum and the flats of its teachers.

In 1817 Grand Duke Constantine had the palace appropriated for military purposes, and the school and its teachers were moved to Kazimierz Palace.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Augustus II the Strong purchased several mansions belonging to the Lubomirski, Sapieha and Morsztyn families and then had them rebuilt and joined together, giving rise to the splendid edifice known as the Saxon Palace. After 1797, the building became government property. During rebuilding work carried out in the first half of the nineteenth century a grand colonnade was added in the middle section.

The arcade on Plac Piłsudskiego surrounding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is the only part of the Saxon Palace to have escaped destruction during World War Two.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier [Grób Nieznanego Żołnierza] by the colonnade of the Saxon Palace has been in place since 1925. Initially, it was devoted to the memory of Poles who had perished in combat during the periods 1914-18 and 1918-20. In 1925 the body of an unknown soldier removed from the Cemetery of the Defenders of Lviv was ceremoniously laid to rest in the Tomb.

The architectural conception and design of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were the work of Stanisław Ostrowski. During World War Two, the Saxon Palace and the Tomb were destroyed. Since 1946, the mutilated palace arcade has served as the backdrop to the restored tomb. Lain inside the tomb are urns containing the ashes of fallen soldiers and earth from battlefields. Placed on a marble slab is an eternal flame and on the walls of the columns surrounding the tomb-eighteen plaques commemorating the sites of battles and the martyrdom of Poles, from the Battle of Cedynia [1] to World War Two. The spaces between the columns on the side of the Saxon Garden are filled with grills bearing representations of the three highest Polish military awards: the Virtuti Militari Military Order, the Cross of the Brave and the Grunwald Cross. Every Sunday a ceremonial changing of the guard is held by the tomb, paying tribute to Poles killed in battle.

[1] Territorial battle of 972 won by Duke Mieszko I, ruler of the nascent land of Poland, over Margrave Hodo, ruler of Lusatia (trans.).

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