Image by De Agostini / W. Buss Getty Images
Warsaw’s top palace is Wilanów (vee-lah-noof), 6km south of Łazienki. It dates to 1677, when King Jan III Sobieski bought the land and turned an existing manor house into an Italian baroque villa fit for a royal summer residence (calling it in Italian ‘villa nuova’, from which the Polish name is derived). Wilanów changed hands several times over the centuries, and with every new owner it acquired a bit of baroque here and a touch of neoclassical there.
Miraculously, Wilanów survived WWII almost unscathed, and most of its furnishings and art were retrieved and reinstalled after the war.
The highlights of a visit include the two-storey Grand Entrance Hall, the Grand Dining Room, and the Gallery of Polish Portraits, featuring a collection of paintings from the 16th to 19th centuries. The exterior of the palace is adorned with impressive murals, including a 17th-century sundial with a bas-relief of Chronos, god of time. An audio guide (12zł) is a worthwhile enhancement to your visit here. You can book ahead for entry tickets via phone or online.