Palace and park complex, Białowieża
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Palace and park complex

Białowieża

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The palace and park complex in Białowieża is one of the most valuable historical monuments of this kind in the Podlaskie province. It presents an immense historical value, having been visited by both Polish kings and Russian tsars. From 1888 onwards, the complex has been a private residence of the tsars, who lavished great attention on the entire complex - a fact reflected in both its landscape and architecture. In addition, the palace complex was also frequently visited by the most eminent representatives of the scientific, literary and artistic communities. The park surrounding the palace was designed by one of the most eminent landscape architects and garden designers of his time - Walerian Kronenberg (1859-1934), credited with producing about 300 different designs in total during his career. The Imperial park in Białowieża remains one of Kronenberg’s greatest achievements, as warranted by the spectacular scale of the project and the identity of the investor, remaining an excellent example of a ring-shaped park, with this particular type of design being often referred to as a calligraphic park.

History

A hunting lodge or manor house in Białowieża is believed to have existed here as early as in the 16th century. In the mid- 18th century, a new, much grander hunting palace (manor house) was erected, along with various auxiliary structures. All these buildings have later been destroyed during the November Uprising. Before 1860, the wooden hunting lodge which had stood on the shores of the nearby pond from 1845 was remodelled in order to cater to the needs of the tsar himself; today, this building is known as the former hunting lodge. Most of the design and construction works were conducted in the years 1890-1895, when the design for an English-style landscape park was produced by Walerian Kronenberg and when the impressive palace designed in the eclectic style by Nicolas de Rochefort was erected, along with a number of accompanying structures. The works were still in progress as the 20th century dawned; for example, both the so-called ranger house and the hofmeister’s house were erected in 1904, based on the design produced the architect Niesalewicz. The entire complex suffered damage during World War I. After 1918, the palace and park complex was taken over by the Polish government. The buildings were now occupied by various district authorities, research institutions, a forestry school and the National Park administration, with some of them housing natural and scientific collections of various sorts. During World War II, the Białowieża residence, along with the entire forest, which was now a designated hunting area, remained under the direct administration of Hermann Göring. In 1944 the retreating Germans set the palace on fire. Its walls have survived until the 1960s, when the ruins were razed to the ground, with a new building being erected on the site shortly thereafter. In 1975, the carriage house was likewise torn down, while the former power station building underwent a redesign. In addition, a number of new buildings have also been erected during that period. Today, the main building erected on the foundations of the former palace houses the administration of the Białowieża National Park which also exercises supervision over the entire palace and park complex in Białowieża.

Description

The palace and park complex in Białowieża is located in the western part of the village. Its current boundaries are Kolejowa and Zastawa streets to the south, the Paczoskiego street to the west, the extension of Żubrowa street to the north and Parkowa and Sportowa streets to the east. In the middle of the complex stands the Białowieża National Park administrative building, erected on the foundations of the now-vanished palace, positioned north of the ponds which take up the southern part of the park. The English-style landscape park - known as the Palace Park even after the palace itself is no longer extant - stretches to the north of the administrative building. The historical buildings forming part of the complex are located on the eastern and western sides of the former palace, in the southern part of the Palace Park, north of the ponds; they include the ranger house - a two-storey brick building with a twelve-axial façade, erected in 1904; the hofmeister’s house - a three-storey brick building designed on an L-shaped floor plan; the coachmen’s house - a single-storey brick building with a habitable attic, erected somewhere around the year 1895; the former forester’s lodge - a single-storey wooden building from 1845, resembling a typical manor house and featuring lavish fretwork decorations; the former bath house - a single-storey brick building designed on a T-shaped floor plan, erected in the late 19th century; the storage building - a single-storey wooden structure erected towards the end of the 19th century; the mill - a single-storey brick and stone building with a basement, erected in the 19th century; the stable and the coach house - a brick and wooden structure, erected on a cruciform floor plan during the late 19th century; the gatehouse - a two-storey brick and stone building with a gate in its ground floor section, flanked by annexes adjoining its southern and northern sides; and the house no. 9 - a single-storey wooden building erected in the late 19th century.

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

  • Szymański W., Przewodnik po Puszczy Białowieskiej, Vilnius 1925, pp. 10-23.
  • Bończak-Kucharczyk E., Maroszek J., Kucharczyk K., Katalog parków i ogrodów zabytkowych dawnego województwa białostockiego. Stan z 1988 roku, vol. 1, Białystok 2000, pp. 21-24.
  • Bajko P., Białowieża - zarys dziejów do 1950 roku, Białowieża 2001, pp. 21-69, 87-95.

General information

  • Type: palace
  • Chronology: XVI 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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