Palace and park complex, Świerklaniec
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Palace and park complex



The park in Świerklaniec is a well-preserved and immensely valuable example of a naturalistic landscape park of not merely regional, but also nationwide importance. The palace and park complex was originally owned by the Henckel von Donnersmarck family of industrial tycoons, maintaining strong links with the Upper Silesia region. The park is the site of numerous valuable structures, including the grange, the amphitheatre, the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Częstochowa or the mansion known as the Cavalier House. Many renowned architects - including Ernst von Ihne, Otto Roschdorf, Emmanuel Frémiet and Peter Lenné - have contributed to the design of the park and the individual structures within.


Świerklaniec became part of the Piast monarchy back in the late 10th century. During those times, it served as the seat of the court alderman (starosta) of King Bolesław Chrobry, who resided in a wooden hillfort surrounded by an earthen rampart and a moat. After 1138, Świerklaniec became part of a seniorate province which remained under the administration of Władysław (Ladislaus) II, followed by Bolesław the Curly. In 1179, Mieszko, the duke of Racibórz, acquired the area in question from Casimir II the Just. From that moment onwards, Świerklaniec remained in the hands of the dukes of Racibórz right until the year 1337. Later on, Świerklaniec came into the hands of the dukes of Cieszyn; it is most likely during that period that the new castle was erected - a masonry structure which saw numerous transformations throughout the years, ending with its Gothic Revival redesign in the 19th century. The castle itself changed ownership on numerous occasions, its owners including duke John II the Good of Opole, George Hohenzollern, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach, his successor in title George Frederick as well as Charles Maximilian. In 1629, the Habsburg family sold the area around Świerklaniec to the Silesian family of industrial and real estate tycoons - the Heckel von Donnersmarck family. In the 19th century, the original palace and park complex saw a period of rapid development due to the involvement of its erstwhile owner, Guido Heckel von Donnersmarck, who added a number of new structures to the ensemble. In 1865, a tavern and a group of utility buildings (including a stable, a horse-riding supplies storage shed and carriage house) were erected south of the castle. The southern part of the complex, currently forming part of the park, became the site of a manor farm with a compact, symmetrical quadrangular layout, while the northern part of the site was occupied by gardens and the accompanying facilities. It should also be added that one more grange is known to have existed west of the old castle, although the date of its establishment remains unknown. In 1868-1875, Guido erected a Baroque Revival palace known as the “Little Versailles” for his wife Blanca de Païva, whom he married in France. The design for the palace was most likely created by Pierre Manguin and subsequently refined by Hector Lefuel. In years 1896-97, a castle chapel and mausoleum were erected at the edge of the park; the chapel, was designed by Julius Roschdorf and erected by his son, Otto. The most recent substantial development in the palace and park complex was the so-called Cavalier House, located south-west of the palace itself. According to the inscription into the register of monuments, the building was erected in the years 1900-1902 in the Baroque Revival style, based on the design produced by Ernest von Ihne.

The first park in Świerklaniec, designed in the Renaissance style, was most likely established in the years 1670-1680 and was designed to accompany the old castle. The existing landscape park was created in the 18th century, covering the former marshlands surrounding the Brynica river. The park attained its final form in 1865.

After World War II came to an and, both the old castle and the palace have been devastated and plundered and then set on fire by Soviet troops. In the 1960s, the ruins were torn down using explosives, with the remnants being dismantled soon afterwards. The surviving entrance gate was relocated to the Regional Culture and Recreation Park in Chorzów. Some of the decorative stonework from the palace was salvaged prior to the commencement of demolition works and used in the course of the Zagłębie Palace of Culture in Dąbrowa Górnicza, now a listed building in its own right.


The palace and park complex in Świerklaniec is an extensive site located in the Brynica river valley. The entire complex was originally built around the now-vanished Renaissance Revival palace at its centre. The site is bounded by the Kozłowa Górka pond to the east, created in the 1930s, as well as by the largely disused fields and meadows to the north and the south. The Parkowa street and the adjoining road no. 78 forms the western boundary of the complex.

The landscape park in Świerklaniec was formed in the 18th century, although it was only in the mid-19th century that it attained its current appearance. The design of the palace and park complex was the work of Peter Lenné; later on, the project was continued by Gustav Meyer, who reshaped the immediate surroundings of the palace in 1865. As a result, the area attained a distinctly historicist appearance, as evidenced, in particular, by the decorative walls surrounding the flower beds, graced by various types of architectural detailing. The works were conducted by Fox, a landscape architect, who based his designs on the existing parks in Muskau and Silbyllenort. The park itself consists of informal plantings of trees and shrubs, with some influences of the so-called calligraphic style, as evidenced by the flowing lines of the walking paths as well as the manner in which the terminating vistas and backgrounds were formed using tall greenery. The surface area of the entire site is approximately 200 hectares, with more than 8 hectares taken up by various watercourses and water bodies.

The now-defunct palace formed the centre of the entire composition, intersected by the main axis of the complex, its geometric layout designed to emphasise the importance of the residence. The palace, designed in the French Renaissance style by the architect Hector Martin Lefuel, was erected on a horseshoe plan, with a central avant-corps housing the hall and the staircase; the middle section of the palace was flanked by pavilions containing, among others, the rose garden and the palm garden. An axially positioned avenue led to the palace entrance. The terraced area beyond the rear façade of the palace led down to the pond below; it was here that decorative basins graced by an ensemble of four cast iron statues designed by the French sculptor E. Frémiet can still be admired. The centrally positioned main basin came equipped with a fountain modelled after the Fontaine de l’Observatoire in Paris, designed by J.B. Carpeaux. Other notable architectural features of the complex include the preserved mausoleum and chapel of the Donnersmarck family, designed in the Gothic Revival style, the latter serving as the local filial church. South-west of the site of the now-vanished palace lies the building known as the Cavalier House. There is also a partially abandoned grange which was later converted into a tavern as well as the garden complex located north of the palace, currently serving as a mini zoo. Most of the trees in the park are domestic species, including, in particular, pedunculate oak (Quercus robur); most of the plantings of trees were originally designed to accommodate two species of trees. Some of those plantings were more formal and symmetrical, whole others went for a naturalistic look. The informal nature of the park, designed to take advantage of the diversity of forms of the surrounding terrain, is supplemented by watercourses and ponds which further emphasize the natural atmosphere of the site. The curvilinear walking paths connecting the individual parts of the park also contribute to its picturesque appearance.

The site is open to the public.

compiled by Agata Mucha, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 11-08-2014.


  • Record sheet of monuments of architecture, Zespoły folwarczne przy rezydencji w Świerklańcu (Manor farm complexes accompanying the Świerklaniec residence), prepared by Teresa Kosmala, Barbara Chlebińska;
  • Record sheet of monuments of architecture, Założenie Pałacowo-Parkowe w Świerklańcu (Palace and park complex in Świerklaniec), prepared by Marta Kisielewicz, Anna Fabiańczyk, Barbara Chlebińska, Teresa Kosmala;
  • Record sheet of monuments of architecture, Willa tzw. “Dom Kawalerów’’ w Świerklańcu (Villa [Cavalier House] in Świerklaniec), prepared by Teresa Kosmala, Barbara Chlebińska;
  • Record sheet of monuments of architecture, Zamek (stary) w Świerklańcu (Old castle in Świerklanie), prepared by ,,Archeo-Hortus’’ Sp z.o.o. Czeladź;
  • Studium Historyczno-Kompozycyjne parku w Świerklańcu, compiled by Wanda Genga, Cracow 1972;
  • Inwentaryzacja szczegółowa i ogólna zieleni Parku w Świerklańcu, compiled by Michońska B., Wiśniewska K., Czerniewski W., Gryniewicz T., Herman J., Sołtys J., Cracow 1971;
  • Krawczyk J.A., Kuzio-Prudnicki A., Śląskie zamki i pałace Donnersmarcków, Radzionków 2011;
  • Parki i ogrody województwa śląskiego, G. Świderek (ed.), Łódź 2007;
  • Zamki i pałace województwa śląskiego, Danuta Emmerling (ed.), 2009;
  • Kozina I., Założenie parkowo-pałacowe książąt von Henckel-Donnersmarck w Świerklańcu [in:] Zeszyty Historyczne Miasta Jaworzna 2/3, Jaworzno 2000;
  • Pilch J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Dolnego Śląska, Warsaw 2008;
  • Szewczyk W., Skarby Donnersmarcków, Katowice 1964.

General information

  • Type: palace
  • Chronology: XIX w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Świerklaniec
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district tarnogórski, commune Świerklaniec
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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