There is a recurring discussion about the reconstruction of the Saski Palace in Warsaw. Destroyed during the war, the edifice has survived only in a fragment - the grave of an unknown soldier. The dispute over the reconstruction has been going on for many years, one of its advocates was Lech Kaczynski. Today, the state authorities are returning to the topic and announcing a speculative law that will make the plan possible.
photo by POLONA
Demolished by the Germans in December 1944, the Palace was never rebuilt. In the 1990s a mock-up of the defunct edifice stood on the square, but it was not until the early 2000s that concrete steps were taken. However, the work started by Lech Kaczynski's team was not continued. The topic returned on the occasion of subsequent local elections and for the centennial of regaining independence, but no formal steps were taken. The 2023 date announced by Andrzej Duda as the completion of construction was also not met. According to the latest announcements, construction is yet to begin this year.
Prof. Marek Budzynski's concept
photo by Marek Budzyński / here it was here it stood
The reconstruction of the Saxon Palace has made its way into the ruling party's latest program - the so-called New Deal. According to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture, Piotr Glinski, the reconstruction of the edifice is "a matter of Polish identity, cultural and historical heritage." The opening of the Palace is expected to mark the symbolic completion of the capital's post-war reconstruction. According to ministerial reports, consultations and industry talks related to preparations for the project are already underway. However, the cost of the reconstruction is not known; 2019 estimates put the cost at 600 million zlotys, and the entire complex, including the accompanying palace buildings, at 1.2 billion. Zl.
"We want to expand Polish museums. At the moment there are about a hundred in progress or in advanced more plans. But that's still a long way from the average of Western Europe. We are going to follow this path. We will rebuild monuments, castles, the Saski Palace (...)"
ministries, museums, offices
Photo: Ministry of Defense
As well as the costs, information on the intended functions of the edifice is also vague. According to plans from years ago, the building complex was to be divided between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Bank of Poland and the capital's City Hall. Private companies were also to be invited to join the project. Later concepts envisaged that the Palace would serve museum and official functions, but without the participation of developers. The Palace's headquarters was abandoned by the typical Senate. The latest announcements revolve around cultural and educational facilities. The Museum of the Destruction of Warsaw and other institutions would be located there. According to those in power, the Palace is to be a place open to all, where many important public and civic institutions will find their headquarters . Concretes, however, are lacking.
"Warsaw 2118" - Pilsudski Square development concept, proj.: FAAB in cooperation with Science.Now studio
The topic of rebuilding the Palace was again addressed by President Andrzej Duda. A working team is to be formed at the Presidential Palace to draft a bill for the reconstruction of the Saxon Palace in Warsaw. The specustawa is expected to be created by the end of June.
"(...) I am convinced that the Polish state can and should today rebuild the Saski Palace, the Brühl Palace and the tenements, which are the historical heritage of Warsaw, and use them in an appropriate way for public activities, public utility."
photo: Wikimedia Commons
Warsaw authorities are skeptical about the subject, but do not intend to block possible reconstruction. The architectural assessment of the project itself is also ambiguous. In what mode should the project be selected, how faithful is the reconstruction to be? Recent Warsaw reconstructions do not inspire optimism. Quite contemporary architecture, in turn, may not meet the expectations of the initiators of the reconstruction. The expression of Pilsudski Square will also completely change. Today empty and overwhelming, with the tomb of the unknown soldier, it is an important and painful testimony to the wartime destruction in the fabric of the city. Criticized urban planning of this place, it is both a symbol and its content. The rebuilding of the Palace will deprive the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of its dramatic setting and its aching emptiness.
Read more about Pilsidski Square, the history of the Saxon Palace and its reconstruction in Anna Cymer's article.