The trail of Mokotów hidden gems
Route proposal and photos by: Łukasz Ostoja-Kasprzycki
Mokotów is a district full of history and often undiscovered gems and secrets, today I invite you for a short walk around this district, which not only arouses my curiosity, but is also the birthplace of my daughter, my parents, as well as grandparents and great-grandparents (and of course me). During this trip, I do not want to tell you the whole history of the district, you can get to know it by reading, for example, “Roots of the City” or one of the other excellent varsavianistic books, today I will show you some places that will stimulate your curiosity and encourage you to explore knowledge.
The first place will be Dreszera Park (photo 7.), namely the park of General Gustaw Orlicz-Dreszer, which for a while was called “Mokotowski”, but the locals did not like the name and it never became widely used.
The park was founded in 1938 by President Starzyński and a moment later was the site of fierce Mokotów fights. During the war, it was also the site of relief drops, but in order for such a drop to take place (and they were organized mainly at night), it was necessary to somehow let the airmen know where the airdrop was located. Generally, a large cross was lit, but it was not possible in Mokotów, it would immediately attract the attention of the occupant, so it was decided to install electric lighting in the park, which was turned on when the airdrop was coming, which did not worry anyone.
It is also worth noting that the drops, organized by the Russians, took place without parachutes, so huge bags of food simply burst when hitting the park alleys, so the inhabitants had to collect food from the ground with their hands.
Later, the park became one of the largest makeshift cemeteries in Poland, soldiers were buried here, as well as residents who could no longer be buried in the backyards due to lack of space. In the 1950s, the bodies were exhumed and moved to other cemeteries, and the park was given a new lease of life. The events that I mention are commemorated by a broken boulder (excavated during the construction of the metro), which is the site of the annual Warsaw Uprising celebrations.
Now let’s go to the intersection of Krasickiego and Naruszewicza streets, where there is a unique gate. At first glance, it might seem that the entrance to the yard was eaten by rust, nothing could be further from the truth, there are traces of a rifle fire and a cluster grenade explosion.
Apparently, the escaping insurgent hid behind the gate, and the German chasing him fired a series of shots and threw a grenade, the insurgent allegedly survived. Thanks to the inhabitants of Krasickiego Street, we can still see traces of history in our daily run.
Going straight along Naruszewicza Street we come to another witness to history (photo 12.) We are at the tenement house at the corner of Naruszewicza and Tyniecka Streets, which has traces of a huge number of bullets. Most likely, Poles were hiding in the attic, and one or two Germans lined up with a CKM rifle on the other side of Naruszewicza Street and started shelling the building. Did the hiding people survive? I do not know. On the other hand, it is nice that the tenement house is well-kept and at the same time has traces of history. The owners or tenants take care of the garden and the surrounding area. I hope that the traces of history will be preserved at least in part with a possible renovation.
Now let’s go back to Krasickiego Street and find the building shown in the photo (photo 13.). Another pearl from Mokotów may not bear traces of history, but it “wears” a vertical garden, the first in Poland, with its own irrigation system and a special substrate, we can observe various plants at different times of the year, and the architects explain that the garden is not only full of aesthetic function, but also warms the building like a real sheepskin coat.
Finally, from Krasickiego Street, turn into Odyńca and stop at Czeczota Street (photo 3.) Czeczota is a street with an unusual shape compared to other streets in Mokotów. Everything will be clarified when we learn the history of its creation, if we picked up a 19th century map showing the location of Russian fortifications, we would see that between Fort Mokotów at Racławicka Street and Fort Piłsudski at Idzikowskiego Street ran a long inter-fortress embankment, half reinforced with a smaller fort, the so-called The Wierzbno Battery, and Czeczota Street reflects the line of the main embankments of this former fortification. That’s the whole secret. Please take a look at this street, because it’s worth it!
Thank you for this short trip and come to Mokotów, because it still hides thousands of secrets.