Saxon Gardens (Ogrod Saski) - Warsaw
Bit of tranquility right in the town centre.
Saxon Gardens (Ogrod Saski) is Best For
Directions to Saxon Gardens (Ogrod Saski)
This beautiful city-centre park was laid out by King Augustus II Mocny (The Strong) as a royal garden near the turn of the 18th century. Augustus had already ruled as Elector of Saxony for several years before he was elected to the Polish throne, and was nicknamed for his great physical strength, which he would demonstrate by breaking horseshoes in his bare hands. He was a great patron of the arts in both Dresden and Warsaw, and left behind several baroque palaces. One of these was Warsaw's Saxon Palace, an extensive, many-winged complex with ornate gardens.
It was in the Saxon Palace that, in 1932, the German Enigma code was first cracked. It was also in the high school once housed here that Fryderyk Chopin's father taught French, bringing his family to Warsaw to take up the post.
After the First World War, in 1925, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was placed under the stately colonnaded arcade that stretched between the palace's two main wings. The Polish Ministry of War selected the remains of an unknown Polish soldier from the Cemetery of the Defenders of Lwow (then a major Polish city, now a part of Ukraine), and transported them to Warsaw, where a Mass was held at St. John's Cathedral for all the nameless fallen of the First World War and subsequent Polish-Soviet War. The coffin was buried together with urns of soil from 14 different battlegrounds across Europe where Polish soldiers have fought and died. With the exception of the German Occupation during the Second World War, a guard of honour has stood continuously before the tomb, keeping the eternal flame alight.
Today, this arcade and the symbolic tomb beneath it are all that remain of the grand palace, which was destroyed in the 1944 bombing and never rebuilt.
The vast square that stretches out before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was named after Marshal Jozef Pilsudski following his death in 1935. Under the Russian Partition in the 19th century, a massive Orthodox cathedral stood here, a symbol of Russia's domination over Poland. The cathedral was destroyed immediately after Poland regained independence. Pilsudski Square has seen many important historic events - military parades have been held here to welcome state visitors since the 19th century, and crowds gathered here in 1979 to see Pope John Paul II during his inspirational visit to his homeland, as well as in 2005 to mourn his death.
The Saxon Gardens, with their exquisite fountain, rows of dainty statues and sculpted flower beds, are one of the most popular spots in Warsaw for strolling, people-watching and soaking in the atmosphere of the city.