Warsaw

The Glitz and Glamour of Yesteryear’s Warsaw

ZŁOTA 44 is a symbol of comfort, an icon of sophisticated design and a paragon of amenities that make daily life easier. Throughout its history, Warsaw has had many such symbols, and their definition evolved with changing eras, fashions and historical twists. Here are just a few examples of lavishly decorated or modern Warsaw buildings whose fame extended beyond Poland.

On 18 March 1596, King Sigismund III Vasa decided to move the Polish capital from Kraków to Warsaw. At the time Warsaw was a rather unassuming town, but the transfer of the diplomatic corps marked the start of its spectacular growth. The key factor droving growth was the need to provide housing for the dignitaries, which spurred the construction of more and more palaces and resplendent manor houses. One of the most sumptuous was Adam Kazanowski’s palace in Krakowskie Przedmieście, whose splendor almost put other Warsaw residences to shame. The building had three floors, was topped with a copper roof complete with corner spires. The Italian architecture of the exterior inspired admiration, but it paled in comparison with the building’s interiors. Marble tables, a sizeable weapons collection, gold-thread tapestries, a chandelier with a clock, a taxidermied turtle from India, a fountain spouting expensive wine at the heart of the dining room, and cages with exotic birds are only a few of the features that made Kazanowski’s palace a symbol of luxury at the time.

In the 18th century, Warsaw enjoyed its heyday – the city’s population exploded, leading to vigorous construction and rapid expansion. New manor houses, palaces and tenements sprang up across the urban landscape. The streets were paved, a sewage system began to be put in place, the first precise plans of the city were drawn up and the Saska Thoroughfare, with the Saxon Palace, was created. The Saxon Palace was only surpassed by the Palace on the Water, the residence of the king, the ultimate arbiter of taste. The palace boasted numerous copies of classical sculptures, Dutch tiles and Bacciarelli’s frescos. It also held Luis XVII furniture, crystal chandeliers, a jardinière made of bronze and African marble, English tapestry armchair, ornate bed-linen cabinets, Chinese wallpapers and a mantelpiece clock made of alabaster and bronze.

In the late 19th century, a house of Russia Insurance Company was erected in Marszałkowska Street, a steel-and-concrete structure that pushed the envelope in construction. The stately building embodied the great metropolitan era of Warsaw. It was the first Warsaw building that had reinforced steel components, electric elevator and full electric wiring. The second floor housed ones of the most luxurious apartments of the turn-of-the-century Warsaw, some of which had as many as seven rooms. The building was designed by the highly acclaimed architect Władysław Marconi, who also created the concept of the eclectic Bristol Hotel. Completed in 1901, the building enthralled visitors with its white-framed crystal elevator, and had an impressive number of telephone lines (six out of Warsaw’s meager 800).

The old Warsaw is long gone, but the new one keeps growing. ZŁOTA 44 reflects the centuries-old quest for comfort, modern features and luxury. Its innovative structural solutions are as impressive as the ones adopted in the construction of the Russia Insurance company building, its broad array of amenities brings to mind the golden days of the Bristol Hotel, and its truly royal design recalls the splendor of the old manor houses.

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