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History of the park

Ogród włoski na tarasie górnym, fot. W. Holnicki.jpg

In the times of Jan III, construction work on the Wilanów Palace took place concurrently with the establishment of beautiful gardens along with a grange, which included farm buildings and a menagerie. The natural beauty of the location suited the demands of Baroque garden design perfectly. The terraced grounds and the presence of water reservoirs allowed for the creation of captivating vistas and made linking the garden with the natural surroundings easy. From the very beginning of his reign at Wilanów, King Jan III treated the gardens around his residence with special care, personally tending to plants, planting trees, and later reveled in their beauty while spending long hours in the garden.

Today, the period of Jan III’s reign is most vividly invoked in the Italian gardens located on the upper and lower terraces, between the palace and the Wilanów Lake. The flower-bed arrangements at the upper terrace correspond with the design of the Royal Chambers in their composition. The thematics of the palace are referred to in the Sobieski coat-of-arms, Janina, among other features. The original sculpted decorations, prepared by Dutch artists, were removed by Russian troops in early 18th century. The 18th-century decorations located on the bannister by the upper terrace, however, have remained intact. The putti and sphinxes are the work of Johann Elias Hoffmann. After World War II, 18th-century sculptures from a manor in Brzezinka in Silesia (made by Johann Albrecht Siegwitz) were brought to Wilanów as replacement for works from the times of Jan III that were lost in early 18th century.

Toward the end of the 18th century, an Anglo-Chinese garden was created to the south of the palace, after a design by Simon Gottlieb Zug, commissioned by Izabela Lubomirska. It departs significantly from the geometrics characteristic of the Baroque, forming spectacular visual axes and contrasting isolated trees (or groups of trees) with open spaces. Within the Anglo-Chinese garden, one also finds precious specimen of monumental trees (oak, ginkgo biloba), an artificial lake (built already in the times of Jan III), and the later (early 19th-century) buildings of a byre (Holendernia), erected at the behest of Stanisław Kostka Potocki and designed by Christian Peter Aigner.

Stanisław Kostka Potocki created an English garden at the northern side of the Wilanów Lake, gently sloping toward the edge of the waters. It was fitted with park buildings, like the Chinese Gazebo or the Pump House. Particular features of the park design are aligned in visual axes – one of the prettiest of those ties together the Chinese Gazebo and the Roman Bridge leading to the island where one finds a monument commemorating the Battle of Raszyn, fought in 1809. Another landscape park, Morysin, was created on the opposite side of the Wilanów Lake. It is currently a nature preserve with priceless animal habitations and persistently visible remnants of the historic 19th-century landscape composition. The neo-Gothic gate located along the axis of the Wilanów residence is the best preserved of the historic objects in Morysin.

In mid-19th century, a Neo-Renaissance rose garden was established by the southern wing, while the northern wing was graced with the Grove of Akademos, containing statues of poets who extolled the virtues of living in the country in harmony with nature – Jan Kochanowski and Franciszek Karpiński. The early 19th century also saw the reformation of the bipartite, Baroque courtyard into the shape it has retained until this day. Changes also affected the forefield, graced with the Neo-Gothic Mausoleum of Aleksandra Potocka and Stanisław Kostka Potocki. Sections of the forefield were surrounded with brick walls. The period also saw the establishment of the Gardener’s House (the current site of the ticket office for the museum) as well as a chapel with a figure of the Madonna.

With reference to Rose Garden, Upper Terrace Garden, North Garden and Orangery Park, the concept of their redevelopment created by Prof. Zbigniew Myczkowski of Cracow University of Technology, PhD, Eng. of Architecture, served as a basis for construction documentation prepared by Architecture Design Studio - Jerzy Wowczak.

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