In close vicinity of the spectacular Wilanów Palace, a royal residence in the Wilanów district of Warsaw, is a historic church with an odd piece of decoration.
During renovations to the church in the late 18th century, workers discovered a mammoth skeleton while digging a new foundation. Ever since, a colossal bone from the find has been on display within the historic church.
This church is one of two churches in Warsaw dedicated to St. Anne. The church with the mammoth bone, the Belfry at St. Anne, is in in the historic Wilanów district where King John III Sobieski of Poland’s Wilanów Palace is located. The other church, St. Anne’s Church, can be found in the city center. The two churches mark the beginning and end of the Royal Route, which connects the Royal Castle with Wilanów Palace.
Initially, the 14th-century Church of St. Leonard stood on this site. Later, in 1772, Prince August Adam Czartoryski commissioned architect Jan Kotelnicki to rebuild the church using bricks in a Neoclassical style. It was during this second phase of construction that the mammoth skeleton was discovered. The newly renovated church was renamed St. Anne’s Church.
In the second half of the 19th century, the church was renovated in a Neo-Rennaisance style by Enrico Marconi, Leonardo Marconi, and Jan Huss. Sculptor Bolesław Syrewicz also made sculptures to dot the church’s façades and the wall decorations were added by Antoni Kolberg.
The church survived both World Wars with minimal damage, and today is one of Warsaw’s oldest buildings.