Palace complex, Radlin
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The palace and garden complex in Radlin - surviving only in the form of ruins - is the only known non-fortified rural manor house in Greater Poland that was originally erected from scratch - “in cruda radice”. The Renaissance complex was most likely erected in the second half of the 16th century, even though there are no archival documents that could confirm this; the original owner was Andrzej Opaliński, the marshal of Radlin in years 1540-1593, Marshal of the Crown and the general alderman (starosta) of Greater Poland. The design of the complex was reminiscent of other examples of European residential architecture of that era as well as of Polish castles such as the Górka family castle in Poznań or the Baranów castle. After the year 1730, a series of alteration works was carried out; these were never finished, however, and a part of the castle was subsequently demolished after 1840. An Italianate garden with a chapel was located east of the castle - on the site currently serving as a cemetery.

History

The first mentions of the village of Radlin date back to 1291. From the mid-15th century onwards, Radlin was the property of the house of Opaliński, whose importance soared in those times, leading them to become one of the most influential noble families in 15th-century Poland.

The castle-palace, designed for the most eminent member of the family, Andrzej Opaliński, was most probably erected in years 1570-1592. The architect responsible for the design remains unknown. The Italianate garden located east of the castle was also created during that time, as was the chapel.

In 1730, the Sapieha family began the process of redesign the castle, whose appearance was considered outdated at the time. However, the lack of funding prevented the works from ever being completed, and the manor was ultimately sold off at auction.

In 1840, Władysław Radoliński purchased the castle ruins and commenced the demolition thereof, using the brick thus obtained for the construction of a distillery and manor farm buildings in Jarocin. It is likely that the cemetery was also established on the site of the garden at that time.

During the interwar period, the inside of the castle was levelled and used as a sports field.

In 1957, the architectural studies of the site began, with the documentation being deposited at the archives of the Regional Monument Inspector in Poznań.

The walls of the castle ruins were secured during the 1970s.

Description

The village of Radlin is located approx. 9 km to the north from Jarocin, the administrative centre of the commune and district. The ruins of the Opaliński residence in Radlin are located east of the village, on a flat, slightly elevated ground, approx. 300 metres away from the parish church of St Valentine, erected in years 1686-8 and incorporating an older tomb chapel of the Opaliński family dating back to the fourth quarter of the 16th century).

The Opaliński family castle is a brick building, its walls originally covered with plaster. The exterior decorations were made of grey sandstone. Today, 90% of the ruins of the castle are its cellars. The tallest, two-storey fragment of the castle is located on the north-eastern corner of the former site thereof. The interior walls and traces of interior layout have been obliterated during the interwar period, when the site was used as a sports field.

During the architectural research performed in 1957, over the two weeks during which transverse excavations were made, it was possible to determine the original layout of the four wings of the castle as well as the size of its internal courtyard. Three sections of walls reaching up to the ground floor window level are the surviving remnants of the western façade. The remains of the southern wing are low fragments of walls which show no traces of windows. The eastern wing of the castle which had once overlooked the garden is the best-preserved section thereof. The façade reaches all the way up to the crowning cornice and incorporates surviving sandstone window surrounds at the first floor level as well as the traces of a loggia that had once overlooked the gardens. The excavations have made it possible to unearth fragments of sail vaults with supporting arches as well as of barrel vaults on the basement level. It is believed that the loggia had once ran along the whole length of the castle wall. In the end, it was possible to determine that the eastern wing was a two-bay (or four-bay if we factor in the loggia overlooking the park as well as the cloister running alongside the courtyard) residential building with a basement underneath. The northern wing was a two-bay structure which originally incorporated a tower.

According to the results of the research performed, the castle was designed on a quadrangular floor plan, its inner dimensions being 51.7 x 41.0 metres; the inner courtyard, designed on a square floor plan (28.31 x 28.50 metres) was surrounded by a cloister). The eastern, western and, to some extent, the northern wing all performed residential functions, while the southern wing was used mostly for communicating between the other sections of the palace and also served as a screen-wall that separated the inner section of the castle from the outside. Performing research works on the castle was made difficult by the redesign which began after the year 1730 (and was ultimately never finished) as well as by the damage inflicted upon the structures at a later date, first when the new owners began demolishing the building and then when the Germans destroyed parts of the northern wall using explosive charges during World War II. The former glory of the castle can be imagined by looking at the bricks and sandstone decorative elements that were used in the process of erecting the distillery and manor farm buildings in the Radoliński family manor in Jarocin. The few surviving elements have been saved during the 1950s.

A garden, designed on a square plan (73x73 metres), adjoins the castle walls to the east. Currently serving as a cemetery, the site incorporates a chapel located near the south-eastern corner. The traces found on the cemetery suggest that a porch or covered walkway had once connected the palace and the garden chapel. The garden, originally surrounded by a wall, was divided into symmetrical, regular paterres, featuring a line of hornbeam trees planted alongside the wall as well as box hedges planted in floral patterns.

The most distinctive feature of the complex is the way in which the palace was once connected to its gardens. The complex was accessible through the main gatehouse located to the north, with the front section of the castle facing northwards, positioned asymmetrically towards the main, longitudinal axis of the entire complex which ran from the west towards the east. The front façade was accentuated by a tower which rose above a gateway designed in a fashion typical for Mannerist architecture. The tower most likely featured a representational portal surmounted by heraldic cartouches and an inscription referring to the founders of the castle. This gatehouse marked the beginning of the compositional axis of the entire complex, which, having reached the courtyard, led towards the east, through the gate and the loggia and into the garden. Even though it might have seemed spontaneous and natural, the entire compositional layout and the manner in which it was to be perceived by the viewer was in fact remarkably well thought-out and disciplined, fulfilling the formal requirements typical of the architecture of the period. The remaining fragments of the building are vestigial at best, so that we can now merely imagine the original size of the palace, while its architecture remains a mystery.

The site is accessible to visitors.

compiled by Teresa Palacz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznań, 09-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Reichert-Hirschowa Z. Hirsch Z., Wyniki badań architektonicznych pałacu w Radlinie, [w:] Studia i materiały do dziejów Wielkopolski i Pomorza, t. 13, s. 305-315, Poznań 1962.
  • Pracuta M., Renesansowy pałac Opalińskich w Radlinie, [w:] Zeszyty Naukowe Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza, Historia, z. 3, s. 191-210, Poznań 1958
  • Jakimowicz T., Rezydencja Opalińskich w Radlinie, [w:] „Zapiski Jarocińskie”, nr 16, Jarocin 1989.
  • Jakimowicz T., Renesansowe i manierystyczne rezydencje w Wielkopolsce, s. 43-54, Poznań 1971.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, Ruszczyńska T., Sławska A. (red.), t. 5, z. 5, s. 14-16, Warszawa 1959.
  • Raczyński E., Wspomnienia Wielkopolski, t. 2, s. 269-70, Poznań 1843.
  • Kasprzak K., Sobczak J., Żerkowsko-Czeszewski Park Krajobrazowy, Poznań 2009.
  • Anders Paweł, Nieznana Wielkopolska. Gdzie Prosna i Lutynia uchodzą do Warty, Warszawa 1992.

General information

  • Type: palace
  • Chronology: 1570-1592
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Radlin
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district jarociński, commune Jarocin - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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