Complex of the former bishops’ palace, currently the National Museum, Kielce
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Complex of the former bishops’ palace, currently the National Museum



Unique residential complex shaped in the 17th and 18th century, combining the Baroque entre cour et jardin layout with the Renaissance pallazzo in fortezza layout, with preserved administrative and utility facilities. The bishops’ palace is the best preserved residence dating from the Vasa dynasty in the country, with an authentic body, interiors, façade décor and interior design that are distinguished by the high artistic level and rich iconography associated with the founder.


The origins of the buildings on the Castle Hill go back to the 12th century. The location of the first bishop’s manor house is not known. Prior to 1635, two manor houses, probably made of wood, associated with three bishops of Kraków (Piotr Tomicki, Jerzy Radziwiłł and Marcin Szyszkowski) stood out among numerous buildings. The present complex was formed in the 17th and 18th centuries. The palace, opposite the collegiate church, preserved in an almost original shape was founded by Bishop Jakub Zadzik in 1637-1641. It was designed probably by Tomasz Poncino, Jan Trevano or Constantino Tencalla. The builder of the palace was Jan Herbek from Szydłowiec; the work was supervised by District Governor Stanisław Czechowski. According to the patterns that were popular in the 17th century, the residence was situated between the front courtyard and the rear Italian garden. It was surrounded by modern fortifications erected in two stages in 1641-1668. The eastern and southern sections with arcaded niches and key embrasures, then the western and northern sections in the form of a full wall with three puntoni (pentagonal towers) (the western called “Fortified Powder Tower” (Polish: Baszta Prochowa) has survived; the northern one was reconstructed in modern times; the southern one is evident in the relics). The courtyard was accessed via two gates: southern gate from the grange and eastern gate from the town. After 1641, a separate kitchen was built on the northern side of the courtyard. In the 1st half of the 18th century, the palace was extended by adding two wings framing the courtyard. First Bishop Konstanty Felicjan Szaniawski built the southern wing probably according to a design by Kasper Bażanka around 1724-1727; the wing was extended by porches leading to the cathedral. Then, around 1745 Cardinal Jan Lipski erected the northern wing modelled on the southern one around. The wing was extended by a seventeenth-century kitchen, of which the northern avant-corps is a relic, and a guardhouse to the east. Bishop Andrzej Załuski funded the construction of a granary in 1752 with the use of section of the garden wall. The complex belonged to the bishops of Kraków since 1789. After secularisation, until 1971 the palace housed offices. Since 1971, the complex (except for the granary) has been the seat of the National Museum in Kielce. In the mid-19th century the south wing was extended by adding a stable (currently an administrative building of the Museum) to the west. Between 1862 and 1866, the tower cupolas were replaced with flat roofs; the cupolas were reconstructed as early as in the interwar period (according to a design by Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz). The seventeenth-century statutes of members of the parliament that decorated the façade of the body have deteriorated and the guardhouse was dismantled. During the 1920s, the garden area was converted and an outbuilding was erected in its north-eastern part. In 1937, the palace was adapted for use as a mausoleum of Józef Piłsudski, whose staff stationed at the palace in 1914. Since 1970s, the palace underwent a number of surveys, repair, renovation, conservation, and adaptation works aimed at showing the stylish nature of the complex, when adapting it for use as a museum. The Italian garden was reconstructed in 2002-2003.


The bishop’s palace complex is located in the city centre, in the western part of the Castle Hill, in front of the collegiate church. The early Baroque bishop’s palace with its front facing the east (towards the church) is the centre of the complex. Its ornate multi-storey body is covered with two tall roofs surmounted by four hexagonal towers crowned with cupolas. Situated between the front courtyard and the rear quarter Italian garden, the palace is an example of a Baroque residence with the entre cour et jardin layout. The entire structure surrounded by fortifications with fortified pentagonal towers (puntoni) and embrasures in the wall is reminiscent of the Renaissance pallazzo in fortezza layout. On the sides, the rectangular courtyard is closed off by two longitudinal multi-storey wings with cloisters featuring arcades and pillars, located on the ground floor, connected to the palace towers by means of annexes. The eastern boundary of the plot is marked by a church fence. The north-eastern corner is pierced by a passage leading to the city, whereas the south-eastern corner features a fragment of the defensive wall. The southern wing has a gateway leading to Zamkowa Street. The Italian garden can be accessed from the courtyard via two gates, between the palace and the wings. The garden occupies a terraced slope. The core of the garden composition is made up of four quarters filled with geometric composition cut out of turf and flowers, with a boxwood ornament. Below, excavations of the main axis of the garden avenue revealed a well, which was later reconstructed. To the west and north, the garden is surrounded by a tall stone curtain wall with puntoni (pentagonal towers) — an authentic one to the west, on the axis of the palace (the so-called “Powder Tower”) and a reconstructed one to the north. To south, it adjoins a longitudinal building of a masonry granary, embedded in a slope, with its front facing Zamkowa Street. The garden wall with the northern wing of the palace is extended to the east behind the northern wing. The later buildings within the complex include two buildings of the museum, hidden in the back of the plot, on both sides of the main body. The palace is connected to the immediately adjacent cathedral and with a distant monastery on Karczówka to the west by means of a view corridor.

The building is open to visitors. The structure (except for the granary) currently houses the National Museum in Kielce ( The granary can be viewed from the outside.

compiled by Anna Adamczyk, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Kielce, 14-12-2014.


  • Adamczyk J. L., Wzgórze Zamkowe w Kielcach, Kielce 1991 (Ibid: extensive older bibliography and source list).
  • Adamczyk J. L., Portrety zabytków Kielc, Kielce 2004, pp. 7-8, 18.
  • Karpowicz M., Tomasz Poncino (ca. 1590-1659). Architekt Pałacu Kieleckiego, Kielce 2002.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. II: Województwo kieleckie, J. Z. Łoziński and B. Wolff (eds.), issue 4:
  • Powiat kielecki, prepared by T. Przypkowski, Warszawa 1957, pp. 33-37.
  • Lewicki Jakub, Najnowsze odkrycia związane z kielecką siedzibą biskupów krakowskich: Siedziby biskupów krakowskich na terenie dawnego województwa sandomierskiego. Materiały z sesji naukowej - Kielce 20 września 1997, Kielce 1997.
  • Lewicki Jakub, Pałac Biskupów Krakowskich w Kielcach. Przemiany zespołu w latach 1795-1864; “Rocznik Muzeum Narodowego w Kielcach”, vol. 26, Kielce 2011.
  • Sobala M., Dwór Klecki, rezydencja biskupów krakowskich w Kielcach w świetle nieznanego Inwentarza z 1635 roku, “Rocznik Muzeum Narodowego w Kielcach”, vol. 25, Kielce 2010.
  • Pieniążek-Samek M., Nieznane źródło od badań nad pałacem biskupów krakowskich w Kielcach, “Rocznik Muzeum Narodowego”, vol. 21, Kielce 2003.
  • W honor domu jego i pamięć. Kilka uwag o dekoracji pałacu biskupów krakowskich w Kielcach, “Rocznik Muzeum Narodowego”, vol. 25, Kielce 2010.
  • Pieniążek-Samek M., Dziedzictwo kultury, [in:] J. Główka (ed.), Kielce przez stulecia, Kielce 2014, pp. 129-134.

General information

  • Type: palace
  • Chronology: 1637-1641 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Zamkowa 1, Kielce
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district Kielce, commune Kielce
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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