“ City: Warsaw / Country: Poland / World Region: Europe „
I think this is now my fourth Warsaw park review. Only 77 to go so bear with me. I never realised that there were so many parks in the city and I had actually passed by this one about 6 years ago when I came here as a visitor. My son was already living here and it was the first winter we visited. He decided to take us to the Russian market which was located at the old stadium. Although I loved the market I thought the area looked a bit drab but then it was pouring down. It is strange how your perspective changes about a place. Travelling back the other day on the number 24 tram across the bridge with its quaint ornate towers and fancy stone benches I was pleasantly surprised and quite pleased that I had made the effort to go out with the camera.
Park Skaryszewski (pronounced Ska-ri-zhevski) is situated across the river in south Praga although it is east of the city and covers three main areas; Al Zieleniecka, Al. George Washington and Lake Kamionkowskim. If you catch the tram number 24 from Centrum it takes you all the way to Al. George Washington. You just walk down through the subway which takes you under the roundabout and the park entrance is straight in front of you. Nice to see the building of the new stadium is coming on nicely - hopefully it should be ready for 2012.
It was quite a hot day when I visited the park which was nice as all the trees were in full bud and flowers were blooming. Warsaw parks look so different in winter - really bleak but then a bit of sun comes out and they are all transformed into little havens of peace and tranquility. This one is a pure gem.
As soon as I entered at the main gate I could see that the park was enormous with wide avenues and little paths branching off leading to the lake or parts of the river. There is a map at the entrance and many other maps posted throughout the park so you can find your way round. Across from the main map board is a wooden hut with lots of different maps showing you the different walking routes. This park is popular with Nordic walkers. I saw quite a few people practising and they were much younger than me. The elderly in Warsaw seem to live well into their late eighties and always seem very fit and agile. There's hope for me yet!
There is a bust of Ignacy Paderewski's erected on a concrete plinth very close to the entrance. I had to scrutinise this monument and thought from his mad hairstyle that he must be a poet or musician. Not meaning to generalise but you know what I mean. Having looked him up he was indeed a musician and composer and was also a prime minster of Poland. He was the patron of the park from 1929 and known as a great humanitarian. Interesting to see that he moved to New York and there are streets named after him there and also in New Jersey too. I haven't seen any streets in Warsaw with the name Springsteen on yet but there's time.
Straight across from the bust is a shiny black marble rectangle with Polish names engraved in the marble. This dark piece of work is to commemorate the six Poles from this area who were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York.
My son had told me that there were lots of good photo opportunities in this park as he knows I like a good monument and he was right. Before I had walked 100 yards down the main avenue I had spotted two and then there before me was a great piece of social realism - a low relief sculpture commemorating 26 Russian soldiers who died at the hands of the Nazis during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. The spot where the monument was constructed is where the bodies were buried. They were exhumed when the monument was constructed and the bodies were later buried at the Russian Army Cemetery in Wigury Street. I love social realism. Poles don't like these monuments at all - I think they would like to see them all removed but I think that would be a shame. Although this is a good example I did notice signs of deterioration and there are large cracks in the sides of the monument.
I was very impressed with the main thoroughfare as the layout is so attractive and reminded me of France with its long wide, avenues lined with tall trees and wooden benches. I noticed that the benches were in a series of 4 or 5 together and none stood alone. The central area leading straight down to the end of the park was covered in grass but at each side a road was available for park vehicles like tractors to travel down on. Cyclists can use this road too. On the opposite side was a path for pedestrians.
Like I have said above, my son had told me that this park was good for photograph opportunities and this was the reason I found myself on the east of the city looking for statues and monument. I am monument mad at the moment and can't stop taking pictures. So having looked at the map at the entrance I clocked where the monuments were placed but decided to walk the full length of the main avenue just to see what was at the end and then walk around all the different little loopholes to find sculptures and statues.
I'm glad I walked to the end because I found the river and a wooded area with green wooden huts and tables. This is the bar and restaurant area. Very nice too overlooking the Vistula river with the apartment blocks of Praga at its side. It was too early for me to have a beer so I quickly walked through the area, took some photos and then decided to look for the first statue which is on the eastern shore of the lake.
The statue is called Rhythm, made of black marble and depicts a young lady with her arms raised. I like the clarity of form and the smoothness of textures. It has a religious quality about it but at the same time a touch of Art Nouveau. The artist is Henryk Kuna; a Polish artist of Jewish origin who trained as a Rabbi but then came to Warsaw to study at the Academy of Fine Arts. He formed an informal group of visual artists and called the group, 'Rhythm'. The way the statue stands in front of the lake with her long black gown falling is very handsome indeed.
What I noticed about this park is the number of activities taking place; each and every person doing their own thing at their own pace. Some folks like to sit on a bench reading a newspaper, walkers like to trek the whole circumference of the park with their sticks and radios strapped around their chest, children giggle as swings are pushed high and as they catch the water droplets from the fountain, young couples love to kiss as they sunbathe on the extensive grassy lawns, groups of people like to stretch as they carry on with their yoga lesson and people like me, just prefer to wander around taking photographs.
Which leads me to another monument - the dancer who dances in the rose garden. I didn't see any roses in bloom but I noticed that the maze of hedges had been trimmed and the roses were growing back from being pruned in the Autumn. To the right of this garden was the most beautiful pear tree in blossom - it was delightful; bursting with soft, white lace-like petals, forming a structured cloud of pearly white with a blanket of extra softness falling at the foot of the tree. Delightful as was the sculpture created by Stanislaw Jackowski. The artist has caught the dancer in full flow as she swings back her head and swirls around. She is ecstatic and in love with the music she dances to. The bronze dancer was unveiled in 1926 and is a beautiful example of Art Nouveau. I do believe that before this time the statue had been stored in Paris.
At this point of the tour my phone rang and it was my husband. I had taken both sets of keys and he wanted to go out to a meeting and needed to lock up so I had to leave the park. I was quite sad as when I returned home I read up about the park and found out that there are more statues and monuments so I will have to return another day.
Most guide books say that this is one of the most historical parks in Warsaw and the most beautiful. I think they say that about quite a large number of parks. From my experience of the ones I have visited I would say that they all have their own special qualities but this is certainly very extensive covering 55 hectares. It certainly is very pretty and the outstanding designs of Warsaw's Park and Garden's planner, Franciszka Szaniora prove that he did an excellent job. There is something here for everyone.
I like the various water reservoirs and the symmetrical layout of the paths, avenues, and roads which have been cross planted with colourful trees and shrubs. Nice to see bird boxes attached to trees all the way round the park and the morning I visited an elderly gentleman was stopping off at every box placing small amounts of corn into the feeders. Red squirrels run around and boy, they don't half move fast. Every time I tried to take a photo the little blighters would sit on their hind legs, point there ears and then they would be off on to the road to nowhere, erratically jumping up and down trees.
All throughout the park you will see signs indicating the park rules. Very simple to follow and common sense really. Rules like not to let dogs off the leash, swim in the lake and dog poop must be picked up and placed in special doggy bins. Cyclist should cycle responsibly and not like they belong to a circus troop, alcohol is not permitted or any destruction to trees, flowers or park property including statues and monuments. Litter should be placed in the hundreds of bins provided. Obviously people take notice of these rules because I thought the park was in immaculate condition and I didn't spot any litter at all or dogs off the lead.
So is it the most beautiful park in Warsaw? Not quite - I haven't reviewed that one yet but Park Skaryszewski is definitely in the top three.
Park Skaryszewski is a park where my presence was very much over-due, I'm familiar with many of the city's parks and have passed this one many times but for some reason I never actually went into it, I can't for the life of me find an excuse why it has taken me so long to visit a park that has been so close to me for the last 5 years!
Skaryszewski is on the East side of the river and behind what used to be Warsaw's famous Russian market but is now the site of the National Stadium under construction for Euro 2012, I believe it takes it's name because it is in the direction of Skaryszew, a small town south east of Warsaw. It's between the rougher, criminally inclined but soon to be trendy neighbourhood of Praga and the rather posh Saska Kepa neither inhabitants seem to have a major effect on the style of the park.
Skaryszewski has everything you look for in a park - it has a few busy segments ladened with cyclists, roller bladers, children and dogs, a sort of chaos with accidents waiting to happen!
It has plenty of quiet parts with benches and trees, it has a lake where on one side there are modern overlooking flats - surely pricey due tot he location. Also next to this piece of water are several simple snack bars serving fish, chips, grilled meat and beer with benches where you can sit outside, it's a bit busy on weekends but still seems tempting. Renting pedal boats to cruise the frog filled canals and lake is also possible.
This is a really nice park and my visit to it would have been perfect if it hadn't started raining torrentially when we were in the most obscure part of the park and not completely sure how to get out, taking cover under trees before making a mistaken run for it which culminated in two very soaked individuals!
At just a handful of stops from the centre of Warsaw, this is really worth a little tram ride to. Get off at "Rondo Waszyngtona" and head for the trees.