Renovation works in the medieval town cellars of Warsaw’s Old Town reveal Polish treasures. Few years ago, a sack with 1200 silver coins was discovered – the oldest dating back to 1663.
The medieval town cellars of the UNESCO listed Warsaw Old Town are most impressive. They extend under the entire north-western part of the Market – Dekert’s side where Historical Museum of the City of Warsaw resides. They form a veritable maze of 9+ meters below the market.
On 13 July 2010 one of the archaeologists working underground spotted an old silver coin under the flooring in one of the basements. A 4.5 kilo canvas sack filled with 1211 silver coins was discovered – a sack that someone went to great lengths to hide from other people’s view some 200 years ago. The oldest coins date back to 1663, whereas the latest was made in the year 1702.
The Polish archaeologists called the collection of coins a ‘treasure’, referring both to the current value of the coin collection and the intriguing history of how someone sought to hide what represented considerable valuables back in the 18th century.
The laboratory of Poland’s Warsaw Historical Museum had the coins cleaned and inventoried then the historians and numismatists (scholars studying coins) took their stab at the collection.
An underground cultural trail
A new attraction is now available in Warsaw. The tourist route called the Cultural Trail Cellars Old Town, the pride of the capital conservator. There are five groups of restored cellars of different sizes at ul. Jezuicka 4, Old Town Square 28-42 (Dekerta’s side), the Old Town Square 2, Brzozowa 11/13, Bolesc 2. They cover a total area of 2,422 square meters. They are antique, but bristling with modern installations. Air conditioning works great, the lighting is sophisticated, for people with disabilities there are lifts installed, computer network is available etc.
“Going down into the ground and touching real brick with Gothic arches and floors I felt great emotion. This part miraculously survived the destruction of World War II just because it is hidden deep underground. On some bricks you can make out traces of the fingers, even a half thousand years old. You can even find a dog’s paw print preserved there. The bricks were already formed, but still soft. Then a dog had to run through them” – says Artur Zbiegieni, vice president of investment and preservation of the Historical Museum of the Capital City Warsaw.
Cellar Cultural Trail of Old Town is a new attraction available for all. Often centuries old underground are the best-preserved fragments of the Old Town. The earliest date back to the thirteenth and fourteenth century, which is the beginning of settlement in Warsaw’s Old Town. The cellars have survived World War II and were the foundation of the reconstruction of the Old Town. Historic cellars consist the Cellars Cultural Trail of Old Town. You can enter them in a few places – such as the Historical Museum of the City of Warsaw. In turn, in the underground crypt of the Metropolitan Cathedral contains the tombs, among others, the last Polish king Stanislaw August Poniatowski and outstanding pianist and politician Ignacy Jan Paderewski.