In the thirteenth century, during the reign of the prince of Mazovia Boleslaw II, on the bank of the Vistula river, at the estuary of the Kamionka river, a wood-earth hillfort was built. After 1349, during the reign of prince Kazimierz I became the seat of the prince, and then began a gradual transformation into a brick castle. In 1526, the last Masovian dynasty died, Prince Janusz III and the Czersk-Warsaw land were incorporated into the Kingdom of Poland. First came to Warsaw King Zygmunt I, who took the oath of the Mazovian Parliament and took possession of the castle. The royal governor and the starosta of Warsaw resided there. In 1529 the first parliamentary session was held in the castle. After the death of Zygmunt I in 1548, the queen of Bona moved to her Masovian boundaries. After her departure to Italy in 1556, King Sigismund August began to visit Warsaw and call here the sejms.
In 1569 the renaissance rebuilding of the castle was undertaken by architect Giovanni Battista Quadro. It slightly transformed its shape and much more interior. In 1596, King Sigismund III Vasa extensively rebuilt the castle. Added new early-baroque wings and unified earlier buildings. As a result, a large residence was created which enabled the functioning of the royal court. In the first half of the 17th century, the castle acquired modern fortifications, wchich was however never completed. In 1655-1657 three occupations of Warsaw by the Swedish and Transylvanian armies, brought the castle looting and devastation of the interiors.
A large expansion has been carried out only by August III after the fire in 1732 and Stanislaw August Poniatowski in 1767. Until 1794 parliament of the Republic of Poland was held at the castle, and The Constitution was passed on 3 May. After the third partition of Poland, the residence lost its function as a royal residence, remaining the seat of tsarist governors. After the revival of the Polish state the castle was renovated and in 1927 it became the seat of the Polish president Ignacy Moscicki. At the beginning of World War II the building was bombed and partially burned. In 1944, after the fall of the Warsaw Uprising, the castle was blown up by the Germans. It was not until the 1970s that, after a careful study, began a reconstruction in which many survived elements of historical decor were used.
The medieval castle from the 14th century consisted of a rectangular residential house with Castle (Great) Tower on its south wall, on a square plan with a side of 12.4 meters, and a Żuraw Tower in the north. In the years 1407-1410 a new residential house called a Large or Great, was built, which was a brick palace measuring 14.5 x 47.5 meters. It was supported in the north-east corner by a powerful buttress, one-bay, three-storeyed, with vaulted basement, covered with ceiling ground floor and three representative rooms on the floor, illuminated with pointed windows placed in the eastern elevation. On the side of the courtyard were windows covered in shallow pointed blendes, and the communication provided the outside stairs.
By the end of the 15th century, a set of residential buildings called the Minor Court or the Garden (Curia Minor) were built in the northern part of the manor area. Traditionally, it was occupied by mothers, wives and sisters of Mazovian princes, who often performed the regent’s functions. By the eastern wall, the bathhouse and the princely kitchen were connected by a porch to the Great House.
From the 16th century, the royal castle in Warsaw is a monument to the history and culture of the Polish nation, whose meaning can be compared only with the Wawel Castle in Cracow. Repeatedly raked, burned and devastated, eventually destroyed, was always rebuilt and restored to splendor. Today it houses a museum which, in carefully restored interiors, provides permanent exhibitions and temporary exhibitions, prepared in cooperation with the best european museums. More information about the cultural offer can be found on the official website of the museum here.
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, L.Kajzer, S.Kołodziejski, J.Salm, Warszawa 2003.
Lileyko J., Zamek Królewski w Warszawie, Warszawa 1980.