Rural complex, Białowieża
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl
photo

The spatial layout of the village of Białowieża is an example of a settlement inextricably linked with the nearby royal manor (subsequently transformed into a residence of the Russian tsars), designed to cater to the needs of the residents of the said manor. The entire village complex consists of a number of components having an outstanding historical value, including the palace and park complex of the former residence of the tsars, the accompanying village as well as the park, the housing estate of the administrators of the residence, an ecumenical cemetery and many other valuable structures. The layout was formed gradually over the period between the 16th and the 19th century. The eastern part of the village is particularly notable for the presence of a large number of traditional, wooden houses, many of them of the gablefront type; according to the written sources dating back to the early 20th century, all of the houses followed this particular layout at the time, which has most likely been the result of the manner in which the individual parcels of land were drawn up back in the 16th century, during the period of the so-called Volok Reform.

History

In the second half of the 16th century (perhaps even as early as during the reign of king Stephen Bathory), a royal hunting mansion was erected on the site of the current palace park; an even earlier structure of this kind is known to have existed in a different part of the so-called Old Białowieża back in the 14th century. The residents of the village accompanying the hunting mansion were under an obligation to cater to the needs of the royal residence as well as to participate in the hunts that were organised there. Białowieża was a popular destination for both Polish kings and other high-ranking state officials. When Poland lost its independence, the monarchs were replaced by new masters - the Russian tsars. In 1888, Białowieża became the private property of the Russian Imperial family, who had an opulent palace erected here, accompanied by numerous other structures. It was during that period that both the landscape park surrounding the tsar’s palace and the so-called directorial park came into being, both designed by the renowned landscape architect Walerian Kronenberg (1859-1934); in addition, a resplendent brick tserkva was also built, its interior graced by valuable fixtures and fittings. When Poland became independent once again, Białowieża became a popular destination for tourists and researchers alike, the latter attracted by the newly formed National Park; the residence of the tsars was taken over by the Polish authorities. During the interwar period, a Roman Catholic church was built here, becoming another important local landmark, rivalling the Orthodox tserkva. Before World War II, there was also a wooden synagogue and a private Jewish house of prayer, positioned along the Stoczek street (known today as gen. Aleksandra Waszkiewicza street); the synagogue was subsequently demolished in the 1960s. An Evangelical church erected in 1927 is positioned at the end of Tropinka street, near the directorial park.

Description

The most important part of the spatial complex of the Białowieża village - inscribed into the register of monuments - is the palace park, positioned west of the village centre. The park began its life as a hunting residence of the Polish monarchs that was subsequently taken over by the Russian tsars; today, it serves as the headquarters of the Białowieża National Park administration. Numerous historical structures from the late 19th and early 20th century have survived on the site of the park. East of the park, between the gen. Aleksandra Waszkiewicza and Tropinka streets, lies the parcel of land occupied by a brick tserkva. A small shrine is located north-west of the tserkva, with the burial ground with its wooden cemetery tserkva stretching further beyond. West of the palace park lies the village proper, with buildings positioned on both sides of the parallel Tropinka and gen. Aleksandra Waszkiewicza streets, the latter being the main street of the village. Towards the east, the historical rural complex area ends with the directorial park and housing estate as well as the churchyard positioned north of the gen. Aleksandra Waszkiewicza street and south of the directorial park. The Roman Catholic church from 1934 which is located there forms an important local landmark.

The site is open to visitors.

compiled by Grzegorz Ryżewski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 22-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Maroszek J., Pogranicze Litwy i Korony w planach króla Zygmunta Augusta, Białystok 2000, p. 246.
  • Bajko P., Białowieża - zarys dziejów do 1950 roku, Białowieża 2001, pp. 21-69, 90-93.

General information

  • Type: spatial layout
  • Chronology: XVI/XIX 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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