Description

The Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in Warsaw is one of the Polish capital’s notable landmarks. It stands before the Staszic Palace, the seat of the Polish Academy of Sciences on Krakowskie Przedmieście. The bronze statue of a Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus holding a compass and armillary sphere was designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen in 1822 and erected in 1828–30. It was funded by public donations and by the scientist and philosopher Stanisław Staszic. The unveiling ceremony, presided over by Tadeusz Kościuszko’s former comrade-in-arms, Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz. Polish clergy refused to attend the ceremonies as his book had been condemned by the Holy Office in 1616. The ban was lifted in 1758 during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XIV. In 1944, after the Warsaw Uprising, in which the monument was damaged, the Germans decided to melt it down. They removed it to Nysa, but had to retreat before they could melt it down. The Poles brought the monument back to Warsaw on 22 July 1945, renovated it, and unveiled it again on 22 July 1949. In 2007 a bronze representation of Copernicus’ Solar System was placed on the square in front of the monument. In July 2008 the statue was vandalized, but the stolen parts were soon recovered. Replicas of Warsaw’s Copernicus monument stand in Montreal and Chicago.

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