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Monday, March 4, 2024

A surprising discovery in the center of Warsaw. Once upon a time there was a border of worlds here

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During the renovation works on Marszałkowska Street, the workers dug to the foundations of the pre-war tenement houses. The cellars are the only relic of the buildings that once stood on the symbolic border between the salon and the trade.

Pre-war Warsaw does not let itself be forgotten. On Marszałkowska, between Plac Bankowy and Królewska, work is underway to rebuild the road. A new footpath and bike path will be built. The standard is to be worthy of the 21st century. For now, he remembered the 19th century. At the end of the Iron Gate Square, the stone foundations of the old tenement houses were uncovered.

– What is most visible are the exposed remains of a pre-war tenement house at Plac Żelazna Bramy 2. Slightly to the south, we also uncovered fragments of a tenement house, which before the war had the address Plac Żelazna Bramy 1. Archaeologists work there – Jakub Dybalski, spokesman for the Municipal Roads Authority, who commissioned the renovation of the street, tells us.

The tenement house was designed in the 19th century by Antonio Corazzi

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Address data can also be read from the comparison of today’s map with its pre-war versions, which provided by the city office. The addresses of the relics are also confirmed by Ryszard Mączewski, the best specialist in identifying pre-war buildings, a Varsavianist from the Warsaw Uprising Museum and the founder of the Warszawa1939.pl foundation.

On the foundation’s website, you can read that on Plac Żelazna Bramy 2, there was a tenement house designed by not just anyone – Antonio Corazzi himself, an Italian architect who was responsible for the layout of the nearby Bankowy and Teatralny squares. The building of the Grand Theater is still considered his greatest work. The two-storey tenement house whose cellars can be seen today was built in 1828-29. Two decades later, it was superstructured by Andrzej Gołoński. He was also responsible for the tenement house that stuck to one side of the main building.

It is possible that among the surviving foundations there are also the remains of the tenement house at number 4, which stood on the corner with Żabia. Little is known about her. In turn, at number 1 (it’s already a bit further, to the south), a small fragment of the basement of the building, built in the same years as “2” (hence the suspicion that it was also designed by Corazzi), was unveiled.

Iron Gate Square 2Files of the City of Warsaw – Department of Dimensions

Between the hustle and bustle of the bazaar and the salon garden

Before the war, the whole area was the border of two worlds. To the east, the Saxon Garden and its elite regulars. To the west, the mass clientele of the then capital’s shopping center – it was made up of Hale Mirowskie (today they stand in the same location) and Gościnny Dwór (does not exist).

– These tenement houses stood symmetrically on both sides of the square, which was still in front of the Iron Gate square. This area was previously excluded from the Saxon Garden. Who knows, maybe the idea was to separate the huge din coming from the marketplace from the elegant world that was the Saxon Garden – Ryszard Mączewski wonders. – But it cannot be ruled out that the plots were developed for purely mercantile reasons – he reserves.

The foundations of this tenement house have been discoveredmapa.um.warszawa.pl

Varsavianista was surprised that the relics of old Warsaw were so shallow, just under the asphalt. – It would seem that the foundation of the roadway should be thicker, more decent – he notes.

Work is due to resume next week

What about the excavated cellars? Varsavianist sentiments are unlikely to affect the course of work.

– I expect that we will resume work in this place next week, after the conservator’s decision regarding the treatment of this find. At the moment, it is not a big problem, because the contractor simply works in other places on the construction site – sums up Jakub Dybalski from ZDM.

Main photo source: Mateusz Szmelter, tvnwarszawa.pl

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