Rydzyna – a residential and urban complex, Rydzyna
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Rydzyna – a residential and urban complex

Rydzyna

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The manor in Rydzyna, with its preserved links to the urban layout around it, remains a valuable example of a spatial composition that links a number of interconnected complexes that were originally designed back in the 17th and 18th century - a composition which remains clear today despite the passage of time. Its multitude of outstanding historical, spatial and architectural features as well as the value which it has to modern researchers and experts makes it one of the most exceptional and best-preserved designs of its kind anywhere in Poland.

Throughout its 600-year history, Rydzyna became an arena for major historical events due to its links with eminent individuals who have earned their place in the pantheon of the Polish history and culture. From the 15th century until 1909, the manor remained the property of the Rydzyński, Leszczyński and Sułkowski noble families. The palace in Rydzyna served as the abode of King Stanisław Leszczyński, with both King Augustus II the Strong and Charles XII of Sweden known to have been its guests at some point in time. In years 1928-1939, the former residence served as the experimental grammar school and secondary school named after the Sułkowski family - one of the best schools in all of the Second Polish Republic.

The design of this residential and urban complex - which, despite having its roots back in the first half of the 15th century, when the main parts of the layout were devised, was only shaped over the course of the following years - serves as testimony to the political aspirations of its former owners as well as their willingness to draw upon various European aesthetic and artistic traditions such as the French or Italian Baroque and Classicism. The main buildings and complexes, connected by paths positioned on symmetrical axes, have all been designed in a manner which puts the palace - the dominant part of the entire design - at its very centre. A number of eminent architects and artists are known to have participated in the design of the complex: Józef Szymon Bellotti - King John III Sobieski’s court architect,, Michelangelo Palloni, Pompeo Ferrari, Karol Martin Franz, Ignacy Graff, Jerzy Neunhertz, Jan Christian Grünewald as well as artists from the circle of Andreas Schlüter. The park surrounding the palace was designed in the Baroque style, although it underwent a number of transformations in the later years; back when it was originally created, however, it remained one of the first such designs in 17th-century Poland. The entire concept - division into parterres, extensive view corridors and the unity of architectural elements - is a clear nod to major French designs of this kind, including the Jardin du Luxembourg or the gardens around the Richelieu residence in Paris.

History

In the early 15th century, Jan of Czernina, the castellan of Międzyrzecze, founded the town of Rydzyna, erecting the castle and the church of St Stanislaus; the town’s foundation was confirmed by way of a charter granted in 1551. Towards the end of the 17th century, Rydzyna, along with the surrounding lands, was acquired by the Leszczyński noble family of the Wieniawa coat of arms. A baroque palace was built upon the remnants of the medieval castle (ca. 1685-1695, designed by the architect Józef Szymon Bellotti); later on, in years 1700-1704, it was redesigned at the request of King Stanisław Leszczyński by the architect Pompeo Ferrari. The town and the palace have suffered extensive damage during the Great Northern War but were later rebuilt by count Aleksander Józef Sułkowski, the former minister of King Augustus II the Strong, of Sulima coat of arms. It was at his initiative that, in years 1738-62, axial and radial alleys and streets were designed, connecting the town with the manor, including the new components thereof: the cour d’honneur surrounded by outbuildings, the extended park as well as the hunting park and manor farm in Kłoda. The authorship of both the architecture of the buildings and the readjustment of the layout of the town of Rydzyna to satisfy the principles of Baroque urban design is attributed to the architect Karol Marcin Frantz. It was during those times that the town hall (1752) and the Late Baroque brick church of St Stanislaus the Bishop (1746-51) were erected, the new church being constructed on the site of its now-defunct predecessor. In subsequent years, the interiors of the church received their Classicist decorations designed by Ignacy Graff, an architect and sculptor, who oversaw many different projects implemented at the request of the new owner of the Rydzyna manor - duke August Sułkowski, who was also the man behind the idea to establish a fee tail estate (known as the ordynacja in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) in Rydzyna. The subsequent phase of extension of the manor and the town lasted until the year 1786. In 1774, Piarist monks were invited to take up residence in Rydzyna and establish a school there. The college and the monastery (ca. 1780) and the Evangelical church of the Holy Cross (1779-83) were erected during this period. Somewhere around the year 1820, the French park which surrounded the palace was redesigned in the English style. Following the death of the last of the holders of the Rydzyna fee tail estate in the Sułkowski noble family, the entire manor and palace were taken over by the Prussian authorities, intending to use it for educational purposes. In 1924, the manor was acquired by the Polish Ministry of Religious Affairs and Public Education; until 1939, the palace served as a grammar school; later on, when the war broke out, it became a boarding school for the Hitler Youth. In 1945, the palace was set on fire by the Russians, leading to major damage. It was rebuilt in the years 1950-65, with subsequent works being carried out between 1970 and 1989.

Description

The residential complex along with its urban surroundings is located in the north-eastern part of the town of Rydzyna. It consists of the impressive palace (standing atop a square platform surrounded by a moat which is spanned by a bridge), an extensive park (designed on a rectangular plan and surrounded by a canal which features a sizeable reservoir), monumental outbuildings and utility buildings located north of the palace and park (grouped around the cour d’honneur) as well as the garden complex with hunting tower. From the west, the area of the palace complex remains linked to the town centre, designed on a circular plan, which had once been surrounded by a moat, although today only the western section thereof remains. The central part of the urban complex is the square-shaped market, surrounded mostly by multi-storey tenement houses, their roof ridges positioned either perpendicularly or in parallel to the market square. The western frontage incorporates the town hall, its gable wall facing the market square, while in the very centre stands a votive sculpture of the Holy Trinity, designed in the Rococo style. To the south-east of the market square lies the parish church, oriented towards the east, as well as the impressive rectory. The main buildings and complexes are interconnected by means of axial streets. The most important of these are the east-west axis with the town hall at the end, leading towards the palace (passing by the former Piarist monastery) and continuing in the form of an alley in the park, as well as the north-south axis incorporating the Wolności and Rzeczpospolitej streets, leading from the former Evangelical church through the market square towards the village of Kłoda; this street used to end with a central plaza with the now-defunct church and hospital buildings.

The most important part of the complex which binds the entire spatial composition is the quadrangular palace with a small internal courtyard. Its silhouette is defined by four corner towers and two avant-corps: a shallow avant-corps in the western façade and another, more pronounced rectangular one in the northern façade. The palace is a brick building, with the lowest, oldest sections of the walls incorporating stone elements and featuring a Gothic bond; the remaining parts of the walls are covered with plaster. The design of its four-storey façades was unified during the first half of the 17th century. The entire décor was designed in the Rococo style, with the sole surviving detail from the Leszczyński family era - the supraporte above the entrance - positioned in the central section of the façade overlooking the garden. The most notable among the reconstructed palace interiors include the grand rooms on the second floor: the Column Hall (also known as the ballroom), the Marine Hall, the Four Seasons Hall and the staircase in the main avant-corps, featuring the sculptures of Mars and Diana.

The church of St Stanislaus, located in the vicinity of the palace, was designed on a rectangular floor plan, with rounded corners and projecting outermost bays of the side walls. The main body of the church abuts the quadrangular tower positioned on the axis of the façade. The interiors of the church feature surviving sail vaults and lavish decorative plasterwork. A two-storey rectory stands alongside the church cemetery.

The north section of the north-south axis ends with the former Evangelical church - a brick building following an aisleless layout, with a set of galleries inside; today, the church remains abandoned and shows signs of damage. The complex of the former Evangelical church also includes the neighbouring cemetery and the rather austere building of the former pastor’s house.

compiled by National Heritage Board of Poland, 2017r.

General information

  • Type: residential comlpex
  • Chronology: 1985 - 1695
  • Form of protection: Historical Monument
  • Address: Rydzyna
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district leszczyński, commune Rydzyna - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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