The on-line transmission from the flight

2017-10-17 16:13:13

THE GREAT IMPROVISATION

A spacious plaza in the city centre, one of the focal points in the history of the city and its citizens', has been a theatre of emotional upheaval for Poles.

Formerly, it used to be the courtyard of the Saski Palace and a part of a great urban scheme, Saska Axis, constructed by King Augustus II the Strong. In the period of partitions, when Poland lost its independence for over a century, the square hosted drills and military parades under the watchful eye of the Great Prince Constantine. It was here where the Russian occupant erected a monument for seven Polish officers who chose the side of the oppressor in the November Uprising of 1830. It had been standing for over fifty years, from 1841 to 1894. After that, an enormous Orthodox church was built (1894-1912). St. Alexandre Nevski's church was supposed to demonstrate the dominance the Orthodox belief in the region.

Between the First and Second World War the palace used to be the General Headquarters of the Polish Army. It was here, in the Code Office (later relocated to a secret facility in Pyry), where Polish mathematicians and cryptologists Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski worked on decoding the German Enigma. The first decoded messages were presented in the palace in 1933, which means that the Saski Palace has its rightful place on the historic map of World War 2. In close proximity to the palace, on Nowy Świat Street 43, the radio-technical company Ava constructed the first model-copy of Enigma, which would serve to verify the theoretical analyses of the scientists.

After the Second World War, all that was left of the palace was a small part of the arcades, where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is situated now. Initially, there were other plans to locate the tomb, such as the 3rd of May Avenue near the Poniatowski Bridge, Krakowskie Przedmieście Street next to the statue of St. Mary Pasawska or the slopes of Citadel. The matter was solved by an anonymous donor, who put a commemorative sandstone plate under the arcades. The symbolic burial of an unknown Polish soldier, whose body had been found on one of the battlefields, took place in 1925.

In 1979, pope John Paul II celebrated a mass for half a million of Poles on the square. It was at that time when he made his famous speech: Let your Spirit descend! And renew the face of the earth. The face of this land! His words are considered to be the one of the most significant quotes in Polish history. They triggered the formation of Solidarity labour union soon after, which a few years later initiated the overthrow of communism in Eastern Europe. Thus, the Saski Place became the stage for world history once again.

During the archaeological works in the early 21st century, the researchers found the remnants of the old Warsaw, dating back to 1200s. The discovered artifacts portray every phase in the history of Warsaw in a uniquely panoramic way. A large group of them comes from the time of the Crown Warsaw, when the modern metropolis was born. The archaeologists uncovered the foundations of Morsztyn's manor, baroque and 19th-century basements, and parts of the 17th-century earth shaft, called by the name of King Sigismund III Vasa, who devised it to be one of the borders of the city. Those discoveries were not welcome by the city officials, who intended to build an underground parking lot there. The construction works were canceled, but no decision was made as to what to do with the ruins. And so, they were buried again.

The discovered remains of old Warsaw are of great historical value themselves, and the excellent location provides a ready-made space for a permanent exhibition. Thanks to the efforts of the local community, the excavation site was added to the register of historic monuments. The labyrinth of passages and back alleys is a perfect place to organize a memorable and visually appealing showcase of the city history. The discovery of the ruins has given Warsaw a splendid opportunity to promote itself in the most uncanny way. All it would take is to notice and use it.

Until now, the Poles associated the term “great improvisation” with a famous romantic poem “Dziady” by Adam Mickiewicz. Now, they can attribute it to their own efforts to rebuild the Saski Palace, as they embody grand-scale visions of the poet.

“Open-heart surgery.” The reconstruction of the Saski Palace unveiled extraordinary cross-section of the four centuries in the history of Crown Warsaw, the predecessor of modern metropolis. This discovery should influence the plans for the reconstruction of Piłsudski Square.

Saski Park and Piłsudski Square at night.

In this place in 1979 r. John Paul II spoke words of geat historical significance: I call, I, a son of the Polish soil and I, John Paul II, pope, I call from the depths of this millennium, on the eve of the holiday of the Descent, I call together with all of you: {Lord.} let Your Spirit come down and renew the face of the earth. And of this land.

 

 

16:11 - Fat Kate