Oliwa Park in Gdańsk

The origins of the park can be traced back to the turn of the XIIth and XIIIth centuries, when the Cistercian abbey in Oliwa was established. Unfortunately, there is little information about the appearance of the garden at that time, but the park owes its current shape to the last abbots of Oliwa.

The largest building in the park is the Abbots’ Palace, this historic building consists of two wings – the eastern one and the newer southern one. Currently, the palace houses the Modern Art Department of the National Museum in Gdansk.

Oliwa Park, fot. Pomorskie Travel

Oliwa Park, fot. Pomorskie Travel

Abbots' Palace

The beginning of the construction of the palace dates back to the XVth century, when the so-called The Old Palace in the Gothic style. The newer part – the New Palace, was added in the second half of the XVIIth century, and the final shape of the entire complex was mainly responsible for the abbot Jacek Rybinski, during whose time the reconstruction took place in the mid-XVIIIth century, and a few years later a new version of the palace garden was created.

The garden itself is inspired by the work of André Le Nôtre – court gardener of King Louis XIV, creator of the French geometric garden school and, among others, gardens in Versailles.

Oliwa Park, fot. Pomorskie.travel/ M.Ochocki

Oliwa Park, fot. Pomorskie.travel/ M.Ochocki

At that time, the baroque part of the park was built, today called the French part. The fountain located there and busts of Pomorskie princes decorate the places in front of the palace, where a wonderful garden ground floor (also called flower and lawn) has been created, opening towards a large rectangular pond. Before the war, due to the presence of various colorful fish, the pond was called the “goldfish pond”.

View from the tower on Pachołek Hill, photo by M. Ochocki

View from the tower on Pachołek Hill, photo by M. Ochocki

Linden Avenue

At this point, it is worth mentioning the Linden Avenue, which is located in the same axis and is crowned by a smaller pond, which in previous years created a characteristic illusion – looking east, it seemed that this pond is connected with the waters of the Bay, several kilometers away from Gdansk. Unfortunately, today, if we want to see this illusion, we have to use our imagination because the view of the sea has been blocked.

Also near the Linden Avenue, there is a place described as Paradise. There is a space located in a depression, giving the impression of being slightly isolated, and there is another garden parterre located parallel to the pond. Walkers with children will certainly stop for a moment at the Whisper Caverns – characteristic shells located opposite each other, the specific shape of which allows two whispering people standing back to back to hear each other, provided that nothing crosses the line between them.

For years, gardeners were responsible for the shape and appearance of the park, and some of them even gave it a new character, which was also the case during the partitions of Poland. The place, coming under the rule of the Prussian state, also received a new guardian. The fashion prevailing at that time demanded that parks be arranged in such a way that they imitated nature, following the example of, among others: in Chinese gardens.

Further changes appeared in the next century, and by 1881 the new managers introduced many exotic plants to the park, and it took on the character of a dendrological and landscape garden. Staying on the topic of “plants”, we come to 1910, when the so-called alpine garden, and the then inspector Erich Wocke brought a number of alpine plants there.

Oliwa Park, as part of the post-Cistercian complex, was entered into the register of monuments in 1971.



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