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Castle complex - Zabytek.pl

Castle complex

castle Gołuchów

Gołuchów, Klemensa Borowskiego 3

woj. wielkopolskie, pow. pleszewski, gm. Gołuchów

Along with the complexes in Puławy, Wilanów, Łańcut, Nieborów and Kórnik, the castle complex in Gołuchów remains one of the most impressive aristocratic manors in Poland, combining (either today or in the past) a castle or palace, extensive museum or library collections as well as garden and park complexes.

Much like other places of its kind, Gołuchów is home to a substantial portion of the Polish cultural heritage having a significant research, educational and cognitive value as well as representing a vital wellspring of patriotic sentiment. The castle in Gołuchów was erected upon the remnants of its predecessor, erected by the Leszczyński noble family back in the 16th century. The new castle was designed in the spirit of 19th-century Historicism by Izabella Działyńska née Czartoryska and her husband, Jan Działyński. The museum of Izabella Działyńska in Gołuchów remains one of the most outstanding institutions of its kind anywhere in Poland and may easily rival the Czartoryski Museum in Cracow. In addition to resplendent architecture, it contains an extensive collection of valuable items; the entire complex is located amidst the largest park in Greater Poland. The Gołuchów castle remains truly exceptional in that it has neither a specific archetype nor any direct imitations.


The very first mentions of Gołuchów date back to 1263. In years 1507-1695, Gołuchów remained in the hands of the Leszczyński family, the founders of the town of Leszno and the family from which king Stanisław Leszczyński himself originated. In years 1550-1560, Rafał Leszczyński, the alderman of Radziejów, erected a Renaissance fortified manor in Gołuchów, featuring four octagonal turrets positioned at the corners of the main building. On the top floor of the fortified manor house was a covered terrace fitted with embrasures. The entire building was surrounded by a moat. Next to the building was the yard and the accompanying utility buildings. At the beginning of the 17th century, Wacław Leszczyński modified the manor house by adding a residential southern wing, which featured an arcaded cloister on the first floor, facing the courtyard. In 1697, the castle chapel of St John the Baptist was erected. During the mid-19th century, the castle fell into disrepair. In 1856, the Gołuchów castle was acquired by Jan Działyński from Kórnik and then came into the hands of his wife, Izabella Działyńska née Czartoryska, the daughter of duke Adam Czartoryski. In years 1872-1885, the castle was refurbished and redesigned in the Historicist style, with the French Renaissance serving as the primary inspiration. The castle, which was now to serve as a museum, was erected on the basis of the concept and design created by Eugeniusz Viollet-le-Duc, an architecture theorist, with the cooperation of Zygmunt Gorgolewski and Maurycy Ouradou, who were both architects. The decorations which adorned the castle were created by the sculptor Karol Biberon as well as the painter Ludwik Breugnot. The southern wing was redesigned, with the old fortified manor house being partially dismantled. Of the original structure, only the three corner towers remained. The castle received a new western wing with a tower as well as a stone bridge which spanned the moat. The façade received a uniform style reminiscent of the Châteaux of the Loire Valley. A number of antique and 16th-century architectural and decorative elements, brought in from France, Italy, Flanders and Germany, have been incorporated into the new design. The administrative building (also known as the “cashier’s building”), designed by Maurycy August Ouradou, was erected in years 1885-1887. The palace (also known as the outbuilding) was extended in the years 1890-1895, receiving a new wing and an upper storey; the exterior of the building was remodelled in the French Renaissance Revival style.

In 1893, the manor was transformed into a fee tail estate (known as the ordynacja in Poland). In years 1895-1939, the Gołuchów castle housed the private museum of the Czartoryski family, parts of its valuable collection originating from the Hotel Lambert, the seat of the Czartoryski family in Paris. The most valuable of all was Jan Działyński’s collection of Greek vases found on excavation sites in Noli, Naples and Capua. Izabella Działyńska née Czartoryska also collected various keepsakes of the former owners - the Leszczyński family. In 1899, the castle chapel was converted into a mausoleum for Izabella Działyńska and her family. The castle suffered extensive damage during World War II, with the collections that were kept within, including 259 items of ancient Greek pottery, being confiscated by the Germans. In 1956, the looted collection was returned to Poland and relocated to the National Museum in Warsaw. A mere 56 Greek vases were allowed to remain in the Gołuchów castle. From 1951 onwards, the castle serves as a branch of the National Museum in Poznań, with the outbuilding being occupied by the Museum of Forestry.


The contemporary Gołuchów is a large village, located 12 kilometres away from Pleszew, by the Ciemna river, on the junction of the road leading to Kalisz and the side roads towards Jedlec and Kucharki. Gołuchów is also home to the Centre for Silviculture.

The castle complex is located in an extensive park, in the hilly, southern section thereof, intersected by the Ciemna river valley. A moat protects the castle from the east and the north; it is spanned by a stone bridge from the eastern façade side. The castle itself is a brick building with façades covered with plaster, featuring sandstone architectural detailing. The castle features an inner courtyard which opens up towards the north. It is there that the large terrace can be found, with the cellar of the now-defunct 16-th century manor house located beneath. The castle is an imposing structure consisting of the corps de logis and two wings. It is flanked by five fortified towers, three of which are the remains of the 16th-century Renaissance manor house; one - the south-western tower - was erected during the extension works in the 17th century, while the fifth - the north-western one - was originally erected in the 16th century, although its upper storeys have since been demolished so that it only reaches up to the level of the terrace. The corps de logis in the south and the western and northern wings of the castle were constructed in the 17th century. The western wing features an added tower incorporating a staircase. During the 19th century, the castle received its stylistically uniform, imposing appearance, with the towers being extended upwards. The castle features hip roofs with pronounced dormers; the tower roofs are conical in shape, clad with slate. From the courtyard side, the corps de logis is adorned by an arcaded cloister on the first-floor level, featuring decorative double barrel vaults. The entrances to the ground floor section as well as the stairs leading up to the cloister alongside the western wing were modelled after the stairs found in Palazzo de Bargello in Florence. The entrance to the underground level is adorned by a sumptuously sculpted portico. The windows are adorned with Renaissance window surrounds made of sandstone, some of which have been brought from Italy, France and Germany. The courtyard and the cloisters feature a total of 11 stone portals, framed by sculpted columns and topped with decorative lintels. The entire design features truly exquisite detailing incorporating both authentic elements brought in from other sites and contemporary ones which were modelled after them.

The castle is a single-storey structure with a cellar and attic, the latter having been adapted for residential purposes. The southern section features a two-storey basement - a solution forced upon the designers of the castle by the sloping terrain. The southern wing follows a one-and-a-half-bay design with a hexagonal tower in the south; another, rectangular tower in the west replaces the former overhanging garderobe (latrine). The side wings are narrow, single-bay structures.

Following the wartime devastation of the castle, its interiors and the museum exhibition were recreated after 1962. Some of the items from the original collection were recovered from Germany and brought back to the site. The interior design reflects the 19th-century passion for collecting, with works of art and crafts from various epochs and locations taking pride of place inside the castle interiors. In addition to the surviving part of the collection, other notable features include the architectural and decorative fixtures and fittings (including wooden items and decorations); some of them were brought by I. Działyńska from Italy, Flanders, France and Germany, while others are the locally made copies thereof.

The palace (also known as the outbuilding) was originally a disused distillery, which was adapted for residential purposes in years 1872-1875. Following the extension works carried out towards the end of the 19th century, the building received a new, uniform design in the vein of the French Renaissance Revival. It is a brick building with a complex, three-storey shape, its elongated corps de logis terminating with a massive tower in the west. A polygonal, two-storey avant-corps is located near the tower. A glazed gallery runs alongside the second and third storey of the southern side of the main body of the palace. The steeply pitched roofs are clad with slate. The façades are covered with plaster, painted in a light colour, and feature contrasting red brick detailing.

The administrative building (also known as the cashier’s building) is located near the gate leading into the park and towards the castle complex. The design of the building follows the principles of French Renaissance Revival. This two-storey brick building with a cellar was designed on a rectangular floor plan and features a compact shape enlivened by many decorative features, including a steeply pitched hip roof with dormer windows. The red brick façades feature light-coloured sandstone architectural detailing, including rusticated quoins on the corners, a low plinth, window and door surrounds, cornices and wall dormers.

The mausoleum of Izabella Działyńska - the former Baroque castle chapel of St. John the Baptist - is located on a hill between the castle and the palace. It is a brick building oriented towards the east, its nave designed on a square floor plan; the chancel, slightly narrower than the nave, features a semicircular termination. Both the nave and the chancel are covered with gable roofs. Inside, the chapel originally featured an altar stone and a painting of the chapel’s patron saint. The tomb of Izabella Działyńska, covered with a slab made of black marble, can be found beneath the floor of the chancel, inside a semi-circular niche.

The landscape park - the largest of its kind anywhere in Greater Poland - forms a picturesque setting for the historic buildings. The total surface of the park - including the forest section - is 162 hectares, with approximately 600 species and varieties of trees and shrubs represented on the site. The park was designed around the Ciemna river and its valley and features expansive plains, numerous alleys and groups of trees whose leaves take on a variety of colours as the year goes by. Many of the trees in the park enjoy the status of natural monuments. Especially notable are the great oaks with trunk circumference in excess of five metres. Another valuable feature of the park is the lime tree alley, lined with lime trees planted back in 1857. Picturesque ponds can be found along the river, in the middle section of the park. Apart from the roads which lead from the main gate in the west towards the castle and the outbuilding and mausoleum, there is also the so-called “wild promenade” towards Dybul - the former millers’ settlement located in the western part of the park. The settlement was named after a miller named Dybul (1642). During the 2nd half of the 19th century, a complex of stylised buildings, including a chicken shed and a cowshed (converted into a stable in 1916) were erected here. It was here that I. Działyńska kept her colourful varieties of poultry. Today, the buildings serve as the museum of forest technology. The park itself serves as an open-air exhibition of the Centre for Silviculture. Species inhabiting the park include the European bison, the Polish primitive horse, the fallow deer and boar.

The church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is located in the vicinity of the entrance to the park. During World War II, this Baroque building was demolished by the Germans under the pretext of the need to straighten the road towards Kalisz. In 1949-61, the church was reconstructed, albeit in a more modest form, its layout being reversed by 180 degrees. The interior features fixtures and fittings from the original church.

The site is open to visitors. Museum interiors can be explored during the opening times of the individual museums; the park is open to the public

compiled by Teresa Palacz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznan, 17.11.2014.


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Category: castle

Architecture: renesansowy

Building material:  ceglane

Protection: Register of monuments, Monuments records

Inspire id: PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_N_30_BK.165204, PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_E_30_BK.44645