Palace of Branicki family, Choroszcz
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Palace of Branicki family

Choroszcz

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The palace, designed in the Late Baroque style, represents a type of residence known as entre cour et jardin, with numerous nods to the French architecture of the first half of the 18th century. It was erected by Jan Klemens Branicki, who chose Choroszcz as the site of his new summer home. Along with the park intersected by a cruciform arrangement of canals, the palace forms a complex of exceptional artistic quality.

History

The lands around Choroszcz were acquired by the Branicki noble family in the early 18th century, with Jan Klemens Branicki inheriting the manor in the mid-18th century. It was here that the wealthy nobleman chose to erect a summer house for himself, located at the northern edge of the town. In years 1725-1730, the first, brick palace was erected on an islet at the southern end of the canal. However, in 1757 this building had to be torn down due to the severe damage to its structure caused by moisture; two years later, it was replaced by a completely new building, its design modelled after that of its predecessor. The design of the entire complex was rigidly symmetrical, its appearance modelled after that of a typical entre cour et jardin - a type of palace complex popularised by the French, with the palace itself preceded by the cour d’honneur and the avant-cour (forecourt), accessed through a gate flanked by the guardhouse and the utility building. In years 1760-1764, a pair of outbuildings was erected on both sides of the forecourt, one designed as a kitchen building and the other containing guest accommodation. In addition, two further guest pavilions were erected in the vicinity of the palace. The palace was surrounded by a park, featuring a cruciform canal positioned on its main axis. During the November Uprising in 1831, the palace was damaged and stood abandoned for the next couple of years. In 1840, the manor was first rented and then acquired by Chrystian August Moes, who replaced the former grange with a textile factory. In the 1860s, Moes extended the main body of the palace towards the east and west and ordered the canal which originally surrounded the islet to be filled with earth. The building performed both residential and office functions. During World War I, an explosive charge was detonated inside the palace in 1916. In the 1930s parts of the structure were demolished; it was only in the years 1961-1973 that the palace was finally reconstructed and adapted to serve as a museum.

Description

The palace is situated on a quadrangular islet positioned at the southern end of the main canal. The front façade of the palace faces south. The palace is accessible by means of a bridge spanning the southern section of the moat. Designed on a rectangular floor plan, the palace features a short avant-corps up front as well as a pronounced, rounded avant-corps projecting from its northern façade. The side façades are adjoined by semi-circular annexes. The interior of the palace follows a two-bay layout, with a vestibule and drawing room positioned on the middle axis. The palace is a two-storey structure with a compact, cuboid outline topped with a hip roof, its surfaces enlivened by oval dormers; the avant-corps facing the garden features a mansard roof, while the single-storey annexes are crowned with conch-shaped roofs. The façades of the palace are accentuated with decorative framing and adorned with rusticated lesenes. The palace is positioned on a pronounced socle and features a profiled crowning cornice. The seven-axial front façade features a relatively short middle avant-corps topped with a triangular pediment incorporating an elaborate relief of the Ciołek (Bull Calf) and Gryf (Griffin) coats of arms. Sculpted busts standing on ornate corbels are positioned between the two outermost pairs of windows on each side of the palace. The garden façade follows a seven-axial layout and incorporates a three-axial avant-corps with rounded corners. The mansard roof of the avant-corps features a single, oval dormer flanked by sculpted putti. The ground floor level features segment-headed French windows protected by decorative iron railings, with the first-floor windows being likewise topped with segmental arches. The garden façade is similar in disposition to the front façade, with an analogous arrangement of sculpted busts and panoply motifs in bas-relief. The side façades follow a four-axial layout; each of them features a rounded annex topped with a conch-shaped roof surmounted by an ornamental urn. Both annexes feature a single French window positioned on the middle axis. Some of the windows found on the remaining axes of the side façades have been bricked up and replaced with trompe l’œil imitations. The interiors of the building serve as an exhibition of palace interior furnishings of the 18th and 19th century.

Site accessible to visitors.

compiled by Grażyna Rogala, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 22-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Dąbrowska A., Pałac w Choroszczy jako rezydencja fabrykanta (1840-1915, [in:] Biuletyn Konserwatorski Województwa Podlaskiego, Białystok 2000, pp. 69-80.
  • Choroszcz. Zespół pałacowo-parkowy. Dokumentacja historyczna, compiled by E. Żyłko, Warsaw 1962, typescript PPKZ, collection of the Regional Monument Protection Office in Białystok.
  • Record sheet, The Branicki Palace, Choroszcz, compiled by A. Oleksicki, 1987, archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Białystok.

General information

  • Type: palace
  • Chronology: 1759 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: pl. Z. Brodowicza , Choroszcz
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district białostocki, commune Choroszcz - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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