The towered baroque palace of Nieborow is one of my favourite historical sites close to Warsaw. I encourage you to get there before time catches up with it and the inevitable modernisation begins, though let’s hope it is undertaken by a more sensitive crew than the one that “sanitised” Zelazowa Wola and wrecked the Ostrowski Palace in Warsaw and is now bringing us the Jewish Museum. I know, I must be positive but…
When, last Saturday, the suggestion came to take advantage of the first break in the clouds of the long weekend (10 days) and revisit Nieborow, I was keen to go. Nor was I disappointed.
Since my last visit, there have been some minor renovations and restorations. A few flower beds have been laid out behind the house to give the impression of a formal garden. The violets and blues made a striking splash of colour in a garden where the winter greys were still lingering. The outer walls of the house remain skirted with rising damp but once inside all is spick and span. Though unlived in, the house still has the welcome feeling of a home but, I should warn you, the smell of the cooking which greets the nostrils is delusionary: the staff lunch is not to be shared with the public. The café is closed. Had it been open, it would have seen a good trade.
The staircase that leads up to the first floor is surely one of the most memorable features of the house. Hundreds of Delft tiles, each depicting a different scene from life and mythology, decorate the semi circular walls and ceiling. Try to spot the Apollo and Daphne. Even the recent addition of a smoke detector has been camouflaged with a delicate illustration of its own. A huge portrait of King Poniatowski dominates this extraordinary space and as we walked up the stairs I commented on Casanova’s surprise at the off hand manner, totally lacking in any sort of formality, with which Prince Adam Czartoryski introduced him to this king. The meeting took place in the Blue Palace, the Warsaw home of the Czartoryski family. When the king entered the room the prince simply said, I imagine with a flip of the wrist, “Casanova, the king!” My friend suggested that perhaps Czartoryski was jealous of Poniatowski. He had expected to become king of Poland. Catherine the Great chose her lover instead. In the bend in the stairs opposite the picture, there is a tall globe lamp. Around its temples a crown has been placed, whether by design or accident, at a crooked angle. I don’t know if it’s making a statement but we know the crown did not sit happily around the temples of this unfortunate king. Anyway, it is quite funny.
Much of what is in the house I have described in previous blogs. What I discovered of real interest occurred in the garden. And more of that tomorrow.