Sejm and Senate Complex of Poland (Polish: Kompleks budynków Sejmu Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej) are a complex of buildings located in Warsaw, housing the Sejm and Senate of Poland.
The construction of the complex began after Poland regained its independence in 1918. The expansion of the complex continues to the modern-day, with a new building under construction since 2014. All of the buildings part of the complex are managed by the Chancellery of Sejm.
In 1918, a decision was made to adapt the building of the Alexandria-Mari Institute for Parenting, a former female high school, for the needs of parliament. The reconstruction was managed, among others architects Kazimierz Tołłoczko and Romuald Miller. On February 10, 1919, the Legislative Sejm of the Second Republic of Poland met in its first meeting. Here, a few days later, the Small Constitution was adopted and Józef Piłsudski was appointed the Chief of State. On March 17, 1921, the March constitution was adopted.
In 1925, the government has commissioned curator of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Kazimierz Skórewiczowi, the execution of the parliament building expansion project. An amphitheater Meeting Room was added to the former school building. In the years 1925–1935 a four-story Deputy’s House was built, today called the Old House. On March 27, 1928, a new Meeting Room was inaugurated. In this room, on April 23, 1935, the April Constitution was adopted.
During World War II, part of the Sejm buildings were destroyed. In the autumn of 1939, Germans executed executions of Warsaw residents, mainly representatives of the intelligentsia, at the back of the Sejm buildings (in the Sejm gardens). Two battalions of Schutzpolizei were stationed in the undamaged part of the Sejm complex.
In 1946–1947, the remains of nineteenth-century buildings were demolished and the burned Meeting Room was rebuilt. The reconstruction of the building lasted nine months. On February 4, 1947, the first sitting of the Sejm after the war took place. On July 22, 1952, the constitution of the Polish People’s Republic was adopted.
Written in 1946 by the Association of Polish Architects, the competition for the extension of the Sejm complex was won by Bohdan Pniewski. Construction works began in 1948 and the final approval of the plans was made in May 1949. The main work was completed in 1952. The new complex was architecturally inscribed in the old park, and its area was not fenced and until August 2016 it was available for walkers.
After 1945, the House of Deputies underwent a general renovation and served as the main place of accommodation for deputies until, in spring 1989, the New House of Deputies was erected, built according to the design of Małgorzata Handzelewicz-Wacławek and Andrzej Kaliszewski. In the same year, building A containing the library (archive) was adapted for the seat of the Senate.
In the years 1986–1995 the building B was the seat of the Constitutional Tribunal.
In 2011, the Chancellery of the Sejm, which manages the complex of parliamentary buildings, received the Without Barriers certificate for its exemplary adaptation to the needs of the disabled.
In June 2015, a tender was announced for the construction of another building of the Sejm, which is to be erected at the intersection of Wiejska and Piękna streets. The building is to have five floors above ground and three underground. It will contain meeting rooms of parliamentary committees and offices for deputies. The building, which will be connected to the Old House of Deputies by an underground tunnel under Wiejska Street, is to be put into use in spring 2018.
From 2019, the collections and interiors of the Sejm complex can be viewed on the Google Arts & Culture platform.
Main Sejm building
The building was constructed during the most expansive reconstructions of the Sejm, between 1949 and 1952. It consists of two-storey parts, connected by underground tunnels. The road heading to the main entrance is found below the building. Since 2016, on the wall opposite the main entrance, lay wall reliefs designed by Józef Gosławski from the 1950s.
The Main Hall is found by the main entrance of the Sejm. Its three-tone, white-gray-black floor was made of marble, the hall is characterized by gray stucco columns and portals made of white Carrara marble. In the hall there are marble stairs with a decorative iron balustrades, with golden bas-reliefs of girls and boys, while the brass rail of the balustrade has been made ito the shape of a snake. On both sides of the stairs there are two commemorative plaques commemorating the visit of Saint Pope John Paul II on June 11, 1999.
To the right of the main entrance there is a model of the Sejm complex, above which there are found commemorative plaques: a tribute to the ministers of the Second Republic of Poland killed during the Second World War and a commemorative plaque commemorating those killed in 2010 in the Tu-154 catastrophe near Smolensk. Above the entrance is a ceramic clock made in 1955 by Władysław Zych.
To the left of the Main Hall is the Column Hall. Two glass doors with decorative forged grates lead to it. It is one of the most beautiful Sejm halls and the second largest room, at 600 m², in the complex. It owes its name to the slim, symmetrical columns supporting the ceiling. Its marble floor is decorated with colourful rosettes of multicolored marble and golden chalcedony. The ceiling is decorated with stucco and a crystal candelabra, designed by Tadeusz Gronowski. After the restoration of the Senate’s meeting place, between 1989 and May 1991, the Column Hall was the site of its meetings.
Sejm Meeting Hall
The Meeting Hall was constructed between May 1925 and March 1928, designed by Kazimierz Skórewicz. Except for the Belgian marble used to cover the inner walls, all other construction materials originate from Poland. The oak armchairs, tables and the balustrade were made according to the drawings of architect Stefan Sienicki, and the bas-reliefs on the balustrade separating the bureau from the amphitheater were designed by Aleksander Żurakowski.
The outer wall of the Meeting Hall is decorated with a frieze composed of eighteen stone plates with bas-reliefs made by Jan Biernacki and Jan Szczepkowski, symbolising inter alia: Liberation, craft, religion, fine arts, plowing, the press and education.
The Meeting Hall is the seat of the Sejm, the National Assembly, observing joint Sejm and Senate meetings, and the location of where the oath of the newly elected President of the Republic of Poland is held.
The Marshal Corridor links building C with buildings A and B. Its ceiling is supported by two rows of columns tapering downwards along the walls, which optically increase the length, height and width of the corridor. On both sides there are rooms providing entry into the Presidential and Prime Minister’s chambers, as well as four other large chambers: the Chamber of the Constitution of May 3 and the rooms bearing plaques with names of three Marshals of the Sejm of the Second Republic of Poland (hence the name of the corridor): Wojciech Trąmpczyński, Ignacy Daszyński and Maciej Rataj. From the Senate side, the corridor closes in with a decorative iron grate made by Jan Mizerski.
Senate building and Main Hall
After the renovation of the second Chamber of Parliament on April 7, 1989, the Senate convened alternately with the Sejm in the Chamber of Sejm, and then for one-and-a-half years in the Column Hall. For the purpose of the Upper Chamber, building A of the Senate Meeting Hall was adapted from a combination of three library rooms, located on the first floor of the building. In the central part of the building there is an oval staircase, to which, through the floor connector into building C, is the location of the Marshal Corridor. Its balustrade is made of iron rods, forged in the pattern of dry plant veal. The staircase is marked by the extraordinary dynamics of form. Perfectly visible from all sides of the lobby, it is the most iconic feature of the Senate building.
The adaptation of the former library building was carried out between autumn 1990 to spring 1991. The Main Hall was rebuilt using designs of Andrzej Kaliszewski, with the cooperation of Barbara Kaliszewska and Bogdan Napieralski. The designers referred to Bohdan Pniewski’s designs from the 1950s, preserving the colours and modern-day features used in parliamentary rooms. The interior was decorated with bright colours, with pale-coloured walls and an oval plafond.
Sejm Commission building
The nineteenth-century building is located in the north-east of the Sejm complex. In the interwar period it was the seat of the Senate, and after the war the Chancellery of the State Council. There were plans for its adaptation into a parliamentary museum, but after the completion of the renovation work in 1992 it was decided that the Sejm Commission would be held there. The renovation, carried out in 1992, included a new interior design, carried out on the basis of architect’s Aleksander Stępińska design.
Old House for Members of the Sejm
The former Sejm Hotel, now called the Old House for Members of the Sejm, was erected according to the design of Kazimierz Skórewicz. On the north side, the central axis of the building is characterised by a flat break with an oval corner. This building is connected to the Sejm Meeting Hall by a floor connector on the first floor, preserving the original balustrade attic. After the Second World War the longer wing of the hotel was extended southward, in accordance to Bohdan Pniewski’s designs. Thus, an inner courtyard was created in front of the hotel, where the gates from Wiejska and Górnośląska Street are leading towards. Pniewski stylised the oval corner of the building into a cylindrical tower.
Presently, the building houses the Sejm Library.
New House for Members of the Sejm
The pre-war Sejm Hotel became too crowded across the years. The New House for Members of the Sejm was constructed on the basis of architect Małgorzata Handzelewicz-Wacławek’s designs, with the cooperation of Andrzej Kaliszewski. The building was commissioned for use in the spring of 1989.
The building closes-in the Sejm complex to the north-west. The main hall of the new hotel extends over two floors of the hotel, connected by a stairway. There is a reception and ticket offices for: PKP Intercity and LOT, PKO Bank. The building also houses shops, a swimming pool, sauna and a conference room. On the ground floor there is a restaurant and a cocktail bar. Expansion of the building was conducted in 1987-1994.
In 2015, the conference room in the New House for Members of the Sejm, hosts the discussions of the Commission for Social Policy and the Family, named after Jacek Kuroń. At the entrance to the conference room there is a plaque commemorating four Members of Sejm and a member of the Chancellery of the Sejm, who died in a car accident in 1994.
The patron of the Sejm Chapel is the Virgin Mary. The chapel is located at level -1 of the New House for Members of the Sejm. It was ordained on May 1, 1993 by Cardinal Józef Glemp. The altar and statues illustrating the Stations of the Cross, were done so by Jan Tutaj, funded by contributions from Sejm members, consecrated in June 2007 by Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz. The original chair of Saint Pope John Paul II, used during the Holy Father’s visit to the Sejm in 1999, is a very valuable element of the chapel.
Mass is celebrated every day, from Monday to Friday, at 07:30, in the Sejm Chapel.
The building was built in 2008-2010. It consists of four underground floors and a ground pavilion with a light, openwork structure. It was designed by the Lublin architectural studio of Bolesław Stelmach, who won the competition for the extension of the Sejm. In the above-ground part of the building there is a reception, a place to scan parcels and elevators. In the basement there is a letter sorting house, a sending center, warehouses and a garage. Two floors, on which people work, have access to light thanks to the square atrium-well in which the panoramic elevator operates
The complex of the Sejm and Senate buildings creates an architectural and park layout with an area of over 6 ha, of which nearly half are green areas. The most popular plants are yew, California firs, silver spruces, thuja, junipers and azaleas. You can also see paper birch, yellow pine, Canadian Christmas tree and three-leaf cluster. Some plants survived World War II.
Animals in the Sejm complex
The tallest parliamentary building, the Old House of Deputies (K), has been the nesting place for kestrels for many years.
In June 2015, in the Sejm garden, behind the Senate building (A), an apiary consisting of 10 hives was created. This is an ecological action of the Polish parliament, which thus supports the protection of these insects. Beehives of the Ukrainian race inhabited the Senate – very active, hard-working, with a mild disposition.
Visiting Parliament buildings
The Sejm and Senate buildings can be visited throughout the year in organized groups, as well as individually, including during open days and the Night of Museums. A specialized unit of the Chancellery of the Sejm – Wszechnica Sejmowa – deals with the dissemination and dissemination of knowledge about the Sejm. Every year, the complex of Parliament buildings at Wiejska Street is visited by around 100,000 people.
Issues related to access and moving around the complex are regulated by the Ordinance No. 1 of the Marshal of the Sejm of January 9, 2008. It prohibits, among others entrances to the Parliament’s buildings to persons who, by their behavior or appearance, violate the seriousness of the Sejm and Senate. Photographing is allowed, with the exception of photographs of people in the Seym’s chapel, swimming pool in the New House of Deputies, Reading Room of the Sejm Library, as well as restaurants and other catering facilities located within the complex.