Fortified palace complex, Czemierniki
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Fortified palace complex



The complex, erected by bishop Henryk Firlej during the 17th century, remains an outstanding example of a fortified manor built by a powerful magnate, representing a rare type of residence known as the palazzo in fortezza. Until this very day, it remains the key part of the urban layout and cultural landscape of the town of Czemierniki.


The town of Czemierniki was originally chartered under Magdeburg Law back in 1509 at the initiative of the erstwhile owner of the surrounding lands, Mikołaj Firlej from Dąbrowica. Firlej, the bishop of Płock during the period before 1624 and the subsequent primate of Poland, chose this location as the site of his summer residence, designed in the style of a Late Renaissance Italian villa derived from Palladian architecture. As a result, a spectacular fortified manor was built, representing a type of residence known as the palazzo in fortezza - a palace within a fort - and featuring truly remarkable Italian-style gardens concealed within its walls. During the second half of the 17th century, the manor was acquired by Adam Kazanowski, while during the 1680s they remained under the control of King John III Sobieski himself. Having suffered extensive damage during the many wars which it endured, the palace was finally reconstruction in the Baroque style during the 1st half of the 18th century by its new owners - Stefan and Ignacy Humiecki. It was at that point that the palace received its tall, two-tier roof with Baroque gables, at the expense - it is believed - of a former Renaissance roof parapet which was torn down in the process. The Czemierniki manor was later inherited by Jan Małachowski, having formed a part of the dowry contributed by his wife, Izabela Humiecka. Some time later, their son - Stanisław Małachowski, the marshal of the Four-Year Sejm, bequeathed the land to his brother-in-law, Józef Stecki as well as to the underage Aleksandra Stecka; when the manor became part of her dowry in 1815, the Czemierniki manor was acquired by Michał Radziwiłł, her newlywed husband. The new owner introduced various modernisations, making the manor one of the most efficiently managed anywhere across the country. In 1850, the Czemierniki manor, which was under the management of Józef Kotarbiński at the time, was purchased by Wincenty Krasiński from Opinogóra, the owner of another part of the neighbouring lands and the father of the poet Zygmunt Krasiński. In 1852, he led the restoration of the palace which included the addition of a romanticised, Gothic Revival roof parapet. Later on, the ownership of the manor passed to his grandson, Zygmunt, and later on to his granddaughter Maria (Beatrix), who married Edward Aleksander Raczyński from Rogalin in 1877. From 1885 until World War II, the manor remained in the hands of their son, Karol Roger. The manor has fallen on evil days and was being gradually split into smaller pieces, with the State Treasury finally taking over in 1944. After the war, the building served as an orphanage for many years. Today, the building constitutes private property.


The complex is situated on the north-eastern edge of the settlement, in the Tyśmienica river valley. The Late Renaissance palace is located in the corner of the fortified complex, having originally been separated from the rest of the site by a dry moat, its three remaining sides being protected by the waters of the adjoining pond. The two-storey building with a basement is positioned on a tall plinth reinforced by buttresses, its overall shape being cuboid and compact. Designed on a rectangular floor plan, the palace initially featured a rigidly symmetrical, “arithmetical” interior layout, the height of its rooms varying between different floors. A representational vestibule preceded by what was originally a three-bay loggia is positioned on the middle axis of the ground floor level, the loggia having been bricked up in later years. The vestibule is flanked by apartments made up of two rooms in an enfilade layout, each featuring an additional cloakroom. There is also a small, circular staircase, the second staircase being a later, 19th-century addition. The layout of the first floor is largely identical, featuring a spacious room positioned directly above the vestibule. The palace is a brick building, its walls covered with plaster. The front (eastern) façade follows a two-storey, seven-axial design with a three-axial middle part accentuated with pilasters as well as tall windows on the first floor level, directly below which are three French windows topped with semicircular arches. Above the entrance there are plaques bearing inscriptions concerning the construction of the palace and its restoration: “What Firlej had created and what time had turned to ruin, Count Wincent Krasiński has restored under Józef Kotarbiński’s administration, year 1852”. The windows are rectangular in shape, framed with profiled surrounds made of stone. The first-floor windows of the front façade are adorned with an interlacing foliate pattern and topped with simple cornices. The corners of the buildings are accentuated with rustication in the form of faux stone quoins, while the space between the individual storeys is occupied by a Doric entablature with a triglyph frieze. At the top of the façade there is another entablature, featuring a broad frieze with small pilasters and blind oculi. The entire structure is topped with a tall, Gothic Revival roof parapet (attic) adorned with a pointed-arch arcaded frieze. Inside, there are a few surviving remnants of the building’s 19th-century grandeur, including fireplace surrounds and the ornate flooring. The outbuilding (which might have originally served as an armoury) is a Late Renaissance single-storey edifice made of brick; the subsequent alteration works have unfortunately led to the loss of distinguishing architectural features of the structure. The gatehouse is designed in a mixture of the Renaissance and Mannerist styles, forming part of the western curtain wall alongside the southern bastion. It follows a tripartite design with a gateway in the middle; an octagonal defensive turret covered with a stepped roof with a pinnacle on top is positioned directly above the gateway, which is also flanked by two side annexes. It is a brick structure covered with plaster, its vestibule featuring a barrel vault with lunettes. The front façade features a mitered entablature above the gateway, supporting a pair of pinnacles framed by volutes. The bastion-type fortifications are designed on the basis of the so-called “old Italian system”, consisting of bastions and curtain walls which are constructed using brick and stone. Within these walls, the remains of the former gardens are still discernible.

The historic monument can be viewed from the outside (private property).

compiled by Bożena Stanek-Lebioda, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 09-06-2015.


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General information

  • Type: palace
  • Chronology: 1624 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Zamkowa 19, Czemierniki
  • Location: Voivodeship lubelskie, district radzyński, commune Czemierniki
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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