The Royal Castle (Zamek Królewski) was built in the years 1589-1619 for the King Sigmund III Vasa, from the Swedish dynasty of Vasa, who was ruling Poland at the time and moved the capital from Cracow – the traditional capital to Warsaw. The palace was designed by Italian architects. Royal Castle was further rebuilt by the Kings - August III Strong from the Saxon dynasty and Stanislaw August Poniatowski in the 18th century. The castle has been in the 18th century the seat of both chambers of Polish Parliament – Sejm. In 1791, the May Constitution, Europe's first modern codified national constitution as well as the second oldest national constitution in the world, was drafted here.
It is also here, that during the November Uprising, in 1831 Polish Parliament removed Tsar of Russia Nicholas I from the Polish throne. Russians rebuilt the castle in the years afterwards, demolishing Sejm halls, trying to uproot all traces of Polish democracy.
Between 1926 and World War II the palace was the seat of the Polish president.
Partially destroyed by German bombers during the Invasion of Poland in September 1939, the castle was looted by German soldiers who stole most of the art pieces. Some of the works of art from the castle were transferred to private basements and apartments of the Castle employees and hidden from Germans - they survived the war and were put on exhibition in their original place.
During the Warsaw Uprising held in August 1944 the castle was heavily damaged by German bombardment and then the remnants were blown up.
Reconstructions from rubble started in 1971. In July 1974 the clock on the tower began working again, on the exact same time at which it was stopped by the Luftwaffe bombardment. The renovation was finished in 1984.
The Houses of Parliament - where the Polish democracy was built. In 1573, amendments to the constitution of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth were drafted here, including great religious tolerance. Also, during the Swedish Deluge in 1652, the liberum veto was established in these rooms. Later, in 1791 the May Constitution of Poland was enacted here.
The Royal Apartments – where king Stanisław August Poniatowski lived. They consist of the Canaletto room, in which several painted views of Warsaw are on display. Domenico Merlini designed the adjacent Royal Chapel in 1776. Nowadays, the heart of Tadeusz Kosciuszko is kept here in an urn.
The Audience Rooms - designed by Merlini, with four paintings by Marcello Bacciarelli on display.
The Jagiellonian Rooms with many of the portraits of the Jagiello family – Lithuania was dynastically united with Poland in the late 14th century under the Jagiello family; the two states were constitutionally linked by the Union of Lublin in 1569.
How to get to: