Skernevetski stood in a large park on the outskirts of Warsaw. The first house was built in 1463, six years after the Catholic Church had purchased the estate as a county retreat for the Archbishop. In 1609, Archbishop Voytek Baranowski commissioned a palace, directing that it be built in Renaissance style; at the same time, a formal garden was laid out, complete with long allees and hidden pavilions. A century later, in 1761, Polish architect Efraima Schroegera extensively remodeled the Bishopís Palace in the then-fashionable neoclassical style; over the next four decades, the gardens were extended, and a large, English-style park, with an artificial lake and carefully-placed glades dominated by groups of classical statuary, created to shield the estate from the rapidly spreading Warsaw suburbs. In 1795, the Palace was again redone in the neoclassical style, this time by architect Stepan Jakuba. In 1820, Alexander I purchased the estate for his brother Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich, and-after further renovations by architect Carlo Rossi-it served as the official residence of the Governor-General of Poland. In 1831, Nicholas I signed the estate over to the Imperial Crown, and thereafter it was used as not only a hunting lodge but also the Emperorís official Polish residence. In the reign of Alexander III, Skernevetski played host to an important meeting of the Emperors of Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary. Although Alexander disliked the formality of the neoclassical Palace, he often stayed at Skernevetski, and made a number of improvements, adding a balcony above the courtyard for reviews, and ordering additions to the garden and park. By the beginning of Nicholas IIís reign, the former country estate was surrounded by the urban sprawl of Warsaw, and the Emperor confined his stays to short periods, preferring to spend his holidays in the Polish countryside. In March 1915, Skernevetski was occupied by the Germans. In 1919, it was confiscated by the Polish Government and used as an official residence. During World War II, the German Army occupied the Palace, and its neoclassical rooms served a more ominous purpose, as Warsaw Headquarters for the dreaded Gestapo. After a period of restoration, the Bishopís Palace housed several official institutions; in 1998, it was converted into a museum.