Swedes in Warsaw

Anna Dobrzyńska

Treasures in Vistula

During the 17 century Warsaw was occupied by Swedish army. In this time there was a process of taking away the works of art from Warsaw to Sweden. Intensity of this process increased at the moment of pulling the army back from Poland. Swedish soldiers were loading the masterpieces to the barges so much, and so quickly – that very often they were overloaded… and sinking.

When Warsaw was liberated from Swedish army, Poles interested in treasures in the bottom of Vistula for the first time. But – after war – Warsaw was exhausted  and had a lot of  difficulties to overcome, so they stopped searching. And until the 20 century nobody remembered the treasures in Vistula.

And just before the I world war the men, who were taking away the sand from the bottom of the river, discovered an amazing archeological find. Among the sand there were parts of architectural elements, garden sculptures, columns and capitals – and very famous dolphin made of marble (!). This dolphin was a part of a garden fountain from the summer royal residence of Waza dynasty – Villa Regia. At present this palace is called Kazimierzowski Palace and it is one of the buildings of Warsaw University. In the past – there was a sculpture of a little boy who was sitting on the dolphin. And why do we know that? Because this dolphin is mentioned in the 17th century‘s guide book. The author – Adam Jastrzębski – described it as a “strange kind of a fish with a cruel muzzle”.


The copy of the famous dolphin of marble in the Royal Castle garden.
The original sculpture is stored  in Museum of Warsaw.
Photo by Anna Dobrzyńska

In those time they took out about 100 historical objects. But not everybody were happy because of this discovery. The imperial Russian authorities regarded this fact as unnecessary interest of Polish history. And when the eagle relief was found at the bottom – they forbidden the searching continuation.  The treasures were hidden in “Zachęta” National Gallery of Art and until 1936 nobody remembered about them. In this year in independent Poland the Museum of Warsaw came into existence and the exhibits were deposited there. The other precious objects were delivered by inhabitants of Warsaw who were encouraged to this action by newspapers.


The search organisers, Dr Hubert Kowalski, Dr Justyna Jasiewicz and Marcin Jamkowski with the emblem of Waza dynasty. Photo by Marzena Hmielewicz. 

When – in 2009 – young scientists of the Polish Science Academy took up a challenge of bottom research, nobody believed in their success. People though the treasures had been moved very far away or were covered by a thick layer of sand. However – using the special equipment – they managed to took out precious discovery. After renovation, treasures were deposited in Museum of Warsaw.

So, the treasures came back again to Warsaw after – 350 years of getting soaked in Vistula…


A part of the “Swedish treasure” at Vistula bottom. Photo by PAP/Tomasz Gzel 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.