Saska Kępa

Autor: dr Adam Jankiewicz    

Saska Kępa

It is part of the Praga Południe district, located between the Vistula River, Poniatowskiego and Waszyngtona Avenues, and Wystawowy and Gocławski Canals. Paderewski’s Staryszewski Park adjacent to it is also part of Saska Kępa.

Saska Kępa includes some of the old islet area, that was cut off from its left bank and then as a result of the river’s accumulated activity joined with the right bank. Today, the rest of Vistula’s old riverbed, called Łacha Kamionkowska, is part of the little Kamionkowski Lake.

Since the 14th century it was part of Solec and was called Solecka Kępa. It was also called Kawcza Kępa. It was uninhabited up to the 17th century. It was used as a natural warehouse of brushwood and willow branches for building fences, making baskets and building of embankments and dykes to reinforce Vistula riverbanks.

Settlement on Kępa dates back to 1628. Initially Dutch colonialists settled here, who came to Poland in search of refuge from religious persecution in their own country. Since then a subsequent name appears, that of Holenderska (Dutch) Kępa. The newcomers were engaged in animal husbandry, growing vegetables and agriculture.

At the end of the 17th century among other notables, Ernest Denhoff and Jakub Sobieski had holdings on the lands, while from 1735 to 1795 the Polish King August III and his heirs leased the land. The king’s court oraganised dances and game hunting here. From that time the area started to be called Saska (Saxon)Kępa. In 1794 during the storming of Praga a 2,500 strong corps led by Władysław Jabłonowski defended Saska Kępa, which was on the outskirts of Praga. That area took up a section between the Vistula River and the Kamionkowski Lake swamps, in those days still unregulated. The defenders were unable to hold back the superior strength of the enemy, who cut through to the centre of Praga.

Since the 1820s and particularly in the second half of the 19th century, Saska Kępa became a popular place among Varsovians for spending leisure time on Sundays. Various recreational places started to appear, including shooting ranges, bowling clubs, swings and other playgrounds. Visitors came mainly by water, on boats, barges and tubs, as well as on foot, in small carriages and on carts and wagons across the bridge on the Vistula’s backwater dividing Kępa from Praga, opposite Kępna Street. In 1864 Saska Kępa residents were granted peasant rights and did not have to make leasehold payments to the town. As a village Kępa was administratively included into the Wawer commune.

The beginning of the 20th century brings a revival to the growth of Saska Kepa, mainly thanks to the Poniatowski Bridge built in 1904-1913, the building of the Miedzeszyński Wał in 1906-1912, and the establishment of Skaryszewski Park in 1905-1922. The first project to subdivide the land for urban development was designed in 1910-1911.

In April 1916 Saska Kępa was incorporated into Warsaw, which gave it an opportunity to change its character into a modern residential district.

Saska Kępa’s architectural style from the 1920s and 1930s shows the dominating directions in Polish architecture in those days, from the historically manorial and classical styles to extreme functionalism.

The project ‘Protecting the habitats of priority bird species of the Vistula Valley under conditions of intensive pressure of the Warsaw agglomeration’ ( has received a grant from the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE+) and from the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.