Nicolaus Copernicus monument in Warsaw | Poland

Nicolaus Copernicus monument in front of Staszic Palace in central Warsaw; Poland

In the centre of Warsaw, you will find the Nicolaus Copernicus Monument, which has as many stories associated with it as the languages in which they were written. Although faithful copies of this monument can be found in Montreal and Chicago, it is the monument in front of Staszic Palace that has perhaps the most turbulent history.

Copernicus Monument

The Nicolaus Copernicus monument was built on the initiative of the scientist and philosopher Stanisław Staszic. One of the legends says that originally the monument was to be erected in Toruń. The idea came after Staszic heard that Napoleon Bonaparte was surprised that Toruń did not yet have such a sculpture of Copernicus (he was born there). The partitions of Poland and the annexation of Toruń to Prussia thwarted these plans and eventually, the monument was erected in Warsaw.


Another story about the Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in Warsaw tells how the clergy refused to participate in the unveiling of the work. Why? Because in the past the volume published by Copernicus was condemned by Rome and placed on the list of forbidden books.


The Nicolaus Copernicus monument also became an object of contention between Underground Poland and the German occupiers during World War II. Originally, the Nicolaus Copernicus monument had two plaques attached to it with inscriptions in Latin: “To Nicolaus Copernicus the Grateful Fatherland” and in Polish: “To Nicolaus Copernicus the Compatriots”. These plaques were removed and replaced with German inscriptions. Two years later, on February 11, 1942, Maciej Aleksy Dawidowski “Alek” from the Organization of the Little Sabotage “Wawer” took down the new plaques and hid them. After the Warsaw Uprising, the monument was partly destroyed and taken out of Warsaw. After it was discovered in a scrap metal yard it was transported back to the capital of Poland and restored.


Do you know any other stories related to the Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in Warsaw?

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