A palace and park complex of the Branicki family, currently a seat of the Medical University, Białystok
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A palace and park complex of the Branicki family, currently a seat of the Medical University

Białystok

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A unique Baroque palace and garden residence, one of the most magnificent in Europe, which belonged to Jan Klemens Branicki, the Great Crown Hetman. Inspired by French spatial solutions and called the “Polish Versailles” or the “Versailles of Podlachia”, it has outstanding artistic and historical values.

History

The palace was erected in place of a former defensive manor of the Wiesiołowski family from the early 17th century. In the late 17th century, Tylman van Gameren transformed the complex by giving it an axial arrangement and reconstructed the palace for the Podlasie Voivode, Stefan Mikołaj Branicki. In the 18th century, owing to Jan Klemens Branicki (1689-1771), the Great Crown Hetman, the complex was expanded. On the area of ca. 14 ha, a residence consisting of a palace, gardens, ponds and a hunting ground was established to gain fame across Europe as the “Polish Versailles”. Architectural works were conducted by Jan Zygmunt Deybel, Henryk Klemm, Jakub Fontana, Pierre Ricaud de Tirregaille. The palace interior was decorated with mouldings and sculptures by Jan Chryzostom Redler, paintings by, among others, Szymon Czechowicz, Antoni Herliczka and Augustyn Mirys. After the death of Jan Klemens Branicki, the estate was governed by Izabela Branicka, followed by the Potocki family, who sold the palace to the Prussian king, Friedrich Wilhelm III. After the Treaty of Tilsit, Białystok and the palace became the Tsar Alexander I property. In 1838, the building and its interior was adapted to serve as the Institute of Noble Misses. In the inter-war period, the palace was a seat of voivodeship authorities. The building was destroyed and burned down during the Second World War. After the war, preservation works accompanying the reconstruction of the palace lasted until 1962. Since 1950, the palace has been the seat of the Medical Academy. Currently, it is undergoing palace gardens reconstruction works.

Description

The palace and park complex is situated in the central part of Białystok, surrounded by Legionowa, Kilińskiego, Mickiewicza Streets, John Paul II Square, and urban development.

Erected in the Baroque style, it occupies the area of approx. 9 ha.

The complex consists of a palace with outbuildings (1692; 1720-1771), preceded in the south-east by two courtyards: avant cour (a primary courtyard) and cour d’honneur (a parade courtyard), surrounded by a wall that includes two wells from the mid-18th century and the Grand Gate crowned with the Griffin sculpture (1758). Both courtyards were delimited by a wall with the Hercules’ Gate, flanked by two stone sculptures representing Hercules fighting the Hydra and a dragon. In the west, the palace neighbours on the Upper Garden, whose most important element is a garden salon in the French style, with eight lower gardens resembling embroideries, four fountains and numerous sculptures, figures, vases and Pavilion Under the Eagle, reconstructed in 2011. In the north, the garden neighbours on the Lower Garden situated at a canal, with ponds and a Tuscan Pavilion from the second half of the 18th century. In the northern part of the complex, there is an Italian Pavilion from the 18th century, reconstructed in 1959. In the south-east part of the palace, there is a former Branickis arsenal from the mid-18th century and a former orangery. Buildings are made of brick, plastered; the Pavilion Under the Eagle is made of wood; lower gardens are overgrown with boxwood and flowers.

Gardens are accessible; the palace interior is available in part, due to the fact that the building is occupied by the higher education institution.

compiled by Joanna Kotyńska-Stetkiewicz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Bialystok, 04-07-2014.

Bibliography

  • Zeller-Narolewska E., Pałac Branickich w XIX i XX w., [w:] Biuletyn Konserwatorski Województwa Podlaskiego, Białystok 2001, s. 7-16.
  • Ogród Branickich w Białymstoku, historia rewaloryzacji, wyd. pokonferencyjne, Białystok 2011.

General information

  • Type: palace
  • Chronology: 1720-1771
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kilińskiego 1, Białystok
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district Białystok, commune Białystok
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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