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Saski Gardens

July 27th, 2007

warsaw saski gardens_1

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Saski Gardens plays Big Sister to Krasinskich Park: larger in size, broader in scope, big fields and salty woods (you cannot get lost in them, but let your mind try it out anyway). The Gardens are only a few blocks southwest of Old Town, which is one reason why I’ve chosen to highlight this park instead of perhaps a dozen others around Warsaw. Its proximity to Old Town Square, the Palace, museums and the overlooks along the Wisla River make Saski Gardens a nice respite from all the sites Warsaw has.

warsaw saski gardens_4Two main entrances to Saski Gardens—west & east—are dramatic ways to walk (or run) into this large green space and recreation park, flanked on all sides by busy streets and government buildings. No worries, though—once inside the park, the city noise melts away. At the west gate a wide river of flowerbeds leads along the promenade from Marszaekowska Street into the heart of the park, on up to its central fountain. The east entrance begins on the memorial plaza for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a peaceful and sacred spot dedicated to the Polish dead from all wars. Honor guards stand beside an eternal flame, and they don’t seem to mind being the attention of souvenir photographs (a few have even smiled for the young photographers lining up “the perfect shot”).

The memorial Tomb is a good fit for the largeness of Saski Gardens. It rises from a pocket of greenery on the eastern perimeter, framed by red & white flowers (colors of the Polish flag), and high trees further along its shoulders. You can see through the memorial from the plaza’s center and glimpse the fountain with its sculpture garden amid the expanding sea of flowers. It’s a grand entrance to this popular park. I can’t think of a better place to have a memorial, which is usually placed within the plaza of government buildings.

warsaw saski gardens_7Saski is a study in sun-soaked floral beds and forested paths ripe with dramatic shadows. Joggers will find in early morning or late afternoon a nice route through both. Benches seem to be placed in all the right spots. You can find open sun where birds soar overhead, or a shady nook alongside a row of oak, elm, maple and birch trees. Nearly destroyed in World War II, Saski Gardens has 250-year-old trees next to those barely a generation on.

Pick your way along the promenade toward the fountain. A dozen perimeter jets shoot water up into the bowl that looks like a giant birdbath. You almost want to see a pterodactyl swoop into the pool for an afternoon bath. Sculptures in the ancient tradition face the promenade along the edge of the green lawns, where more flowerbeds display their colors in geometric designs.

warsaw saski gardens_3Forests and fields spread north and south from Saski’s promenade. Here you will find the full expanse of the garden, along with solitude, cool forest paths, broad park views, picnic spots away from touristy streets, and a children’s park surrounded by tall, leafy trees. For a place of serenity and a brown-bag lunch beside its banks, the highlight is the pond just through the trees north of the promenade. Find a spot at its southeast bank for an inspiring and romantic view of the Romanesque temple on the mound overlooking the willow trees dipping their fingers into the water.

Just around the path’s bend is an open field, where you’ll see dogs chasing balls, Frisbee tossing, football, and lots of spectators taking it all in. In winter, people pull kids along in sleds, cross-country ski, and skate on the frozen pond. This is one of the unique qualities of Saski Gardens. Its layout and variety make it a place for endless uses throughout the year. The forest south of the flower-laden promenade brims with color in autumn, and by winter the tree trunks and branches create a wonderful Gothic touch to a brisk January walk.

Food and Drinks in Saski Gardens
There are no cafés, tents, or food carts in Saski Gardens. You can find snack carts outside the park along the sidewalks of Marszaekowska Street (east), Królewska Street (south), and Moliera (west). I’ve found that none has a permanent spot, and seem to migrate depending on the day or owner’s disposition.

(read more about Saski Gardens highlights here

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