Warsaw: Walks

Warsaw: Walks Warsaw: Walks

On the basis of information contained in the correspondence of Chopin and people connected with him, as well as in diaries and memoirs, it is possible to attempt a reconstruction of Chopin's daily walks around Warsaw.

As a child he already knew the area around Warsaw University like the back of his hand. The favourite place for little Fryderyk and his friends to play was the nearby 'Botanika', the park on the scarp behind Kazimierz Palace, and also ul. Oboźna, which in winter changed into a steep icy slope.

He probably knew every building on ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście, beginning with the newly erected Staszic Palace, where the Society for the Friends of Learning had its seat, through the area around ul. Kozia, on which stood the post office and his favourite café Pani Brzezińska, to Sigismund's Column [Kolumna Zygmuntowska], near which-in the 'ex-Cistercian' building-the Conservatory was situated. He doubtless strolled around the Old Town and visited his friends on Podwale, including Józef Reinschmidt.

Doubtless one of the routes he most often took was that from ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście, in the vicinity of the National Theatre, located at that time on Plac Krasińskich. In Chopin's day, ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście and ul. Miodowa were linked by a connecting tenement house known as Roesler House. Along ul. Miodowa and ul. Długa were shops with musical instruments and the cafés Pod Kopciuszkiem [Cinderella's], Dziurka [The little hole] and Honoratka, as well as his favourite bookshop and music store, Brzezina's. The Chopins' friends, the Wodzińskis, lived in the same building as the Pod Kopciuszkiem.

His bosom friend Tytus Woyciechowski probably stayed in Chodkiewicz House on ul. Miodowa when in Warsaw. Maurycy Mochnacki lived on ul. Długa, with Joachim Lelewel opposite.

From this area it was not far to ul. Świętojerska, which he doubtless walked along when visiting the New Town, where lived his friend Alfons Brandt and also Romuald Hube, of whom Fryderyk was very fond.

On longer expeditions in the direction of the Żolibórz and Bielany districts he would usually be accompanied by Tytus Woyciechowski, visiting Leopold Poletyłła in the Piarist school in Żolibórz.

With Marceli Celiński he often followed a route leading from ul. Nowy Świat in the direction of Plac Trzech Krzyży. On ul. Marszałkowska, meanwhile, he would visit the Pruszak family.

Chopin also frequented the area of his first apartment, on Plac Saski, where, from the Evangelical church, then the highest building in Warsaw, he would admire the view over the city. He was also often on ul. Mazowiecka, where the piano maker Buchholtz had his establishment, as well as ul. Senatorska, at the homes of Philipeus and Odyniec, and ul. Bielańska chez Kajetan Koźmian.

These descriptions represent only an attempt at indicating the parts of the capital most frequently visited by Chopin. In spite of the fact that few of the original nineteenth-century buildings of Warsaw have survived to the present day, routes that follow in the composer's footsteps will doubtless prove interesting.