The on-line transmission from the flight

2017-10-17 16:15:44

THE CASTLE AND THE CITY’S ROOTS

It is generally thought that today’s Warsaw emerged out of the growth of the Old and New Towns. But perhaps it all happened quite differently.

The stronghold tower, a distinct fragment of the city walls and the initial the seat of the Castellan in Trojden’s time, rebuilt as the ducal Curia Maior, and later as a castle that was the seat of Royalty, slowly evolved into the centre around which, independently of the existence of the Old and New towns, in time emerged a distinct magnate city – today’s Warsaw the capital.

The third Warsaw – that of the Crown, the Crown Marshall and the magnates – emerged not out of the evolution of the burgher-and-crafts-guilds Old Town, but in the suburbs outside its walls, around the autonomous, dynamically developing centre of ducal – and later royal – power. At first marginalizing the Old Town, with time Crown Warsaw absorbed it entirely, turning it into a district of the great metropolis. It goes without saying that during the evolutionary formation of Crown Warsaw’s distinctness, the influence of all the centres of the great agglomeration intermingled.

In any case, at a certain moment the walled Old Town began to vegetate, suffocated by the excess of buildings, inhabitants, and refuse. The defensive walls, intended to protect the town from exterior enemies, turned out to be simultaneously a confining element, isolating the town from the sun and making any sort of development impossible. The walls constituted an insurmountable psychological obstacle for the town’s inhabitants and authorities.

Crown and residential Warsaw developed towards the south of the dual-town. From the standpoint of space, this was, obviously, a continuation, while from the social and political viewpoint – it was in opposition to the burgher Old Town. The authority of the Great Crown Marshall and the court, stretching for a radius of 1 mile from the place where the king was staying, the elective, crown, and general sejms, the royal residence, the chief administrative offices of the Republic, the numerous palaces and manor houses, and, in the not too distant future, the jurisdictions, all created Crown Warsaw – Varsovia Regni Poloniae – today’s capital.

As a result, on the upland, a complex structure of political and settlement centres evolved; at the beginning there were two, then three, and shortly an agglomeration of Warsaw towns, one of whose elements consolidated its domination from the beginning.

The magnate town grew up in the empty space along the Vistula escarpment. At the start this was a loose group of palaces, manors, and farms. In connection with the Castle, as the focus of central power, further magnate and royal residences were built, demarcating a new town axis all the way to Wilanów.

And what of the Old Town? It existed more and more on the margins of Warsaw, to the side of high politics. It is only with the taking down of the walls of the Krakowska (Cracow) Gate in the 19th century that the Old Town was symbolically opened, and poured out into the still empty space. But it no longer had any chance to dominate the great modern city that had arisen on its foreground in the meanwhile.

 

Lecture in Royal Castle

Could a lecture about Warsaw through the eyes of Classic painter Canaletto take place in a modern room? Lecture conducted by Professor Andrzej Rottermund in the Great Hall of the Royal Castle. The classes at the Royal Castle prove that the core of a lecture is not simply sharing academic knowledge; it is also about stimulating emotional and rational structures of the brain. To attend this lecture, students are required to wear elegant clothing.

In order for the solar clock to indicate exact time independently of the period of the year, its arm, whose shadow indicates the position of the sun, should be leaning and directed at the stellar north pole, toward the Polar Star. A clock arm thus positioned is called a polos. Zygmunt’s column does not meet these requirements, as it stands vertically. But if we look attentively under our feet and see its shadow, we are a step away from creating a solar clock.

Making a solar clock by means of aerial photos (a projection of the column’s shadow moving against the background of the Castle Square) required, on every hour of true solar time, from dawn to dusk, 15 successive flights during one day. Each trip required flying exactly over the column, with a degree of spatial precision of within one metre, and releasing the shutter at that exact moment. The shadows from selected photos were superimposed to form a generalised image of the Castle Square.

It is in this manner that Zygmunt’s Solar Clock – perhaps the next symbol of Warsaw – came into being. It measures its own time, in keeping with the laws of nature, not that of man. The square fills with people and then empties to its rhythm. For almost 400 years, it has projected the finesse of the statue’s architectural form with the royal figure standing at its top. Irrespective of the direction from which it is observed and the corresponding projection of the shadow, this form is enchanting in its beauty and composition. Few monuments have such an excellent architectural form.

The Royal Square in Warsaw photographed at the very beginning of Polish presidency in the European Union. The photo shows a flowery carpet with the Polish Presidency logo.

 

16:11 - Fat Kate