Railway station, currently serving as a restaurant, Białowieża
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Railway station, currently serving as a restaurant

Białowieża

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The railway station building at the Białowieża-Towarowa (Białowieża-Freight) railway station, erected to serve the needs of the nearby residence of the Russian tsars, is one of the few well-preserved structures of this type in the Podlaskie province. The fact that the railway station was erected on private land owned by the Russian tsars has resulted in the building itself being designed in an unusually lavish manner; in the modern times, during the 1980s, the railway station served as an inspiration for artists such as the film director Andrzej Wajda, who used it as a location for a number of scenes for his film Demons, based on the book by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Following an exemplary restoration, the railway station won the 2004 “Well-Preserved Monument” prize, awarded by the General Monuments Inspector. In 2008, the railway station won the 1st prize in the contest for the Best-Preserved Rural Wooden Building in the Podlaskie Province, awarded in recognition of the meticulous attention to detail lavished on the building in the course of restoration which ensured the preservation of numerous original features, including both the interior layout and the period heating system. The building also presents an outstanding artistic value, being reminiscent of the sumptuously decorated Russian railway architecture of the late 19th and early 20th century. The fretwork decorations which grace the gables and window headers are a clear nod towards both the residential architecture of Imperial Russia and the design of the so-called Swiss-style villas, which remained highly popular in various European resort towns at the time.

History

The freight railway station building was built in 1903 or thereabouts; it was designed as an auxiliary station intended to support the operation of the now-defunct Białowieża-Palace railway station, erected in 1897. The railway station was also intended to cater to the needs of the now-vanished Imperial residence. The picturesque architecture of the railway station has attracted various film crews to the site, including from Germany, England and Japan. In the 1980s, Andrzej Wajda came to the site to film a number of scenes for his Demons, an adaptation of the novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. In the 1990s, the railway line was finally closed down, with the station building itself being left in an increasingly dilapidated state. In 2003, the historical monument was sold to private individuals, who have conducted a comprehensive restoration of the structure. Today, the former railway station serves as the Imperial Restaurant.

Description

The railway station building on the Białowieża-Towarowa station is located about 2 kilometres to the south-east from the centre of the village. The building, designed on an elongated rectangular floor plan, features a wide front façade with a pair of central avant-corps on both sides, accentuating the areas occupied by the waiting area on the platform side and the ticket office and administrative facilities on the other side of the structure. Both the main body and the avant-corps are covered with gable roofs. The railway station is a wooden log structure positioned atop stone foundations bound with mortar; the roofs are clad with ceramic roof tiles. The façades are covered with weatherboards positioned horizontally, with a diagonal arrangement used for the gables. Notable features of the building’s design are the sumptuously decorated fretwork panels which grace the gables of the avant-corps, the lavish window headers and other woodcarved decorations. The interior décor is likewise designed to bring back the spirit of the era of tsar Nicholas II of Russia, as evidenced by the presence of late 19th-century and early 20th-century furniture, portraits of the Emperor as well as other period fixtures and fittings.

The historical monument is accessible to visitors.

compiled by Grzegorz Ryżewski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 21-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Kułak A., Budynki użyteczności publicznej, [w:] Perły architektury województwa podlaskiego, Białystok-Bydgoszcz 2010, s. 98, 102.
  • Stankiewicz D., Dworzec kolejowy w Białowieży Towarowej laureatem konkursu Generalnego Konserwatora Zabytków, „Biuletyn Konserwatorski Województwa Podlaskiego, z. 11, 2005, s. 229-240.
  • Bajko P., Z historii linii kolejowej Hajnówka-Białowieża, „Białostocczyzna”, nr 1, 1988, s. 13-15.

General information

  • Type: railway infrastructure
  • Chronology: pocz. XX w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Białowieża
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district hajnowski, commune Białowieża
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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