It was September 2009 when we last got desperately bored enough to take a trip out to Żelazowa Wola as a family but a two week break in Warsaw had us clawing at the windows despite the distractions of Christmas and New Year. On our last visit we were impressed that work had started on improving the experience as well as the prospect of a decent restaurant across the street so this was an opportunity to see the end results. Zosia knew what was in store as she had been more recently on a school trip.
Chopin was born here on 1st March 1810. His father, Nicolas, was French and had moved to Poland in 1787 age 16. He worked as a tutor to an aristocratic Polish family who had a large estate here. Now only the Chopin house is left standing. His mother, Justyna, was Polish and a poor relation of the family for whom Nicolas worked.
Six months after Chopin’s birth the family moved to Warsaw where his father got a job teaching French at the lyceum in Warsaw, then housed in the palace that stood around what is now Plac Piłsudski. Chopin lived in Warsaw until 1831 when he moved to Paris never to return. He died in 1849.
Żelazowa Wola therefore struggles against Warsaw and Paris in the business of attracting Chopinites. The six months he lived there are hardly worth bothering with so its only real claim to fame, and one that cannot be taken away is that it is the place he was born.
To map out the attractions for you:
- Reception building – tickets, souvenirs, short film, exhibition hall
- Another similar building – no idea what it’s for
- The house – couple of pictures, an old harpsichord (not Chopin’s), dust, spiders
We did them all, along with the other five visitors, then we popped across the road for some grub. If you read the “coming soon” notice for the restaurant in my 2009 post you’ll see it was opened by Magda Gessler and called Polka. That obviously didn’t last because it now has a different name and and no Gessler tagging.
It’s a huge place and built to the standards you’d expect from Gessler. Looks like it probably does a decent trade in weddings, funerals and bar mitzvah’s when it’s not trying to keep a coach load of Japanese tourists happy.
Our food was good without being memorable. Soups were better than the mains for M & Z although I’d happily eat my gołąbki again. Zosia found a spider squished on the end of a chip. To me it looked more like one of those black bits you can often get with a chopped potato but my glasses were a couple of warp factors too weak to be sure. Both M & Z were convinced about the spider’s untimely death so I guess it was. Cost around 150 for the three of us. No extra charge for the spider.