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Warsaw. Archaeologists work on the grounds of Brühl Palace. They found a secret tunnel

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At the beginning of July, archaeological works began in the area where the Brühl Palace stood before the war. A spokesman for the Saski Palace company informed about the first discoveries. We also know at what stage the architectural competition for the concept of rebuilding the residence of the Saxon kings is at.

In an interview with tvnwarszawa.pl, Sławomir Kuliński, the spokesman for the Saski Palace company, said that the work started this week is expected to last until the end of the year. It indicates that they are not carried out on the entire plot where the palace was located. – We work in the place of the northern outbuilding and part of the body of the palace itself – says Kuliński. He emphasizes that this place has never been archaeologically explored before.

Militaria “literally under the lawn”

Before the archaeologists entered the area, the area was checked by sappers. – A lot of cartridges from Mauser rifles from the period of the First World War were found, but also cartridges of Polish production, made in the interwar period. These are cartridges minted in the Norblin factory in Warsaw and in the ammunition factory in Skarżysko-Kamienna. A machine gun incendiary bullet was also found. These are small militaria that were literally under the lawn. We expect there will be much more of this, emphasizes Kuliński.

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The first interesting discoveries were also made by archaeologists. – On Wednesday, at the intersection of Fredry and Wierzbowa Streets, sculptural elements of decorations on the external façade of the Brühl Palace, as well as fragments of columns, were pulled out – reveals Kuliński. – We expect many architectural finds, such as the staircase of Bohdan Pniewski. After the reconstruction by Pniewski, the Brühl Palace was rich in marbles, which we would love to find to determine their color and geology – explains the representative of the Saski Palace company.

What else can be expected under the layers of earth? – We already know that there is also a tunnel here that runs towards Wierzbowa Street. It is about four meters deep. He’s not on any of the records or plans we have. The tunnel will be a mystery to us – says Kuliński.

Currently, the works cover an area of ​​​​about 4.5 thousand square meters. – We will want to show the effects of these works to Varsovians as soon as possible by organizing an exhibition in the area of ​​the fence and an exhibition of the artefacts themselves, immediately after they have been secured by the State Archaeological Museum – adds Kuliński.

The Brühl Palace, adjacent to the Saxon Palace, was built in 1639–1642 for Jerzy Ossoliński, the Marshal of the Sejm and Sandomierz Voivode. In 1750, it was purchased by Henryk Brühl, the first minister of King August III of Saxony. After this transaction, the palace was expanded in the rococo style. The central part of the building was raised to a height of two floors and covered with a mansard roof. A gate appeared on the side of Saski Square, and a decorative colonnade on the side of the garden.

Brühl’s Palace was blown up by the Germans after the fall of the Warsaw Uprising.

At what stage is the concept competition?

Parallel to the archaeological works, an architectural competition for the concept of rebuilding the Saxon Palace is underway. This was announced by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in March. What stage is it at now?

– Currently, local visions of companies that joined the competition are being carried out. Under the supervision of the Association of Polish Architects, they inspect the area. At the end of July, the deadline for submitting study papers expires. Already in August, the competition jury will meet, so that the results will be announced in mid-October – replies Sławomir Kuliński.

The requirements of the competition are set out in the Act of August 11, 2021 on the preparation and implementation of investments in the reconstruction of the Saski Palace, Brühl Palace and tenement houses at Królewska Street. According to the document, the buildings are to be reconstructed according to the external architectural shape they had on the eve of the outbreak of World War II (August 31, 1939). Therefore, it is necessary to carefully examine historical sources, in particular the surviving plans, photographs and sketches.

Brühl Palace after reconstruction – visualization niedlegla.gov.pl / palacsaski.pl

Competition requirements

One of the requirements of the competition is also to recreate the garden at the Beck’s pavilion with a fence, allowing free communication with the Saxon Garden. Relics of buildings on the western frontage of pl. Pilsudski. The competition requirements assume that the historic cellars of the Saski Palace will be exposed to the public.

However, changes may occur in the space of neighboring streets. The rules of the competition allow, for example, narrowing a fragment of Królewska Street to ensure communication services for the reconstructed buildings by placing ramps to the underground storeys. The competition participant also has the opportunity to present an original solution for the communication service of the reconstructed buildings.

The organizer of the competition is the Saski Palace company, and the direct operator is the Association of Polish Architects (SARP).

The investment, which raises social controversy, is to cost over PLN 2 billion.

Saxon Palace after reconstruction – visualization niedlegla.gov.pl / palacsaski.pl

Main photo source: Artur Węgrzynowicz/tvnwarszawa.pl

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