Białowieża
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

users tour Grzegorz

Białowieża

10

several hours

podlaskie

Rural complex
Białowieża

two hours

The spatial layout of the village of Białowieża is an example of a settlement inextricably linked with the nearby royal manor (subsequently transformed into a residence of the Russian tsars), designed to cater to the needs of the residents of the said manor. The entire village complex consists of a number of components having an outstanding historical value, including the palace and park complex of the former residence of the tsars, the accompanying village as well as the park, the housing estate of the administrators of the residence, an ecumenical cemetery and many other valuable structures. The layout was formed gradually over the period between the 16th and the 19th century. The eastern part of the village is particularly notable for the presence of a large number of traditional, wooden houses, many of them of the gablefront type; according to the written sources dating back to the early 20th century, all of the houses followed this particular layout at the time, which has most likely been the result of the manner in which the individual parcels of land were drawn up back in the 16th century, during the period of the so-called Volok Reform.

History

In the second half of the 16th century (perhaps even as early as during the reign of king Stephen Bathory), a royal hunting mansion was erected on the site of the current palace park; an even earlier structure of this kind is known to have existed in a different part of the so-called Old Białowieża back in the 14th century. The residents of the village accompanying the hunting mansion were under an obligation to cater to the needs of the royal residence as well as to participate in the hunts that were organised there. Białowieża was a popular destination for both Polish kings and other high-ranking state officials. When Poland lost its independence, the monarchs were replaced by new masters - the Russian tsars. In 1888, Białowieża became the private property of the Russian Imperial family, who had an opulent palace erected here, accompanied by numerous other structures. It was during that period that both the landscape park surrounding the tsar’s palace and the so-called directorial park came into being, both designed by the renowned landscape architect Walerian Kronenberg (1859-1934); in addition, a resplendent brick tserkva was also built, its interior graced by valuable fixtures and fittings. When Poland became independent once again, Białowieża became a popular destination for tourists and researchers alike, the latter attracted by the newly formed National Park; the residence of the tsars was taken over by the Polish authorities. During the interwar period, a Roman Catholic church was built here, becoming another important local landmark, rivalling the Orthodox tserkva. Before World War II, there was also a wooden synagogue and a private Jewish house of prayer, positioned along the Stoczek street (known today as gen. Aleksandra Waszkiewicza street); the synagogue was subsequently demolished in the 1960s. An Evangelical church erected in 1927 is positioned at the end of Tropinka street, near the directorial park.

Description

The most important part of the spatial complex of the Białowieża village - inscribed into the register of monuments - is the palace park, positioned west of the village centre. The park began its life as a hunting residence of the Polish monarchs that was subsequently taken over by the Russian tsars; today, it serves as the headquarters of the Białowieża National Park administration. Numerous historical structures from the late 19th and early 20th century have survived on the site of the park. East of the park, between the gen. Aleksandra Waszkiewicza and Tropinka streets, lies the parcel of land occupied by a brick tserkva. A small shrine is located north-west of the tserkva, with the burial ground with its wooden cemetery tserkva stretching further beyond. West of the palace park lies the village proper, with buildings positioned on both sides of the parallel Tropinka and gen. Aleksandra Waszkiewicza streets, the latter being the main street of the village. Towards the east, the historical rural complex area ends with the directorial park and housing estate as well as the churchyard positioned north of the gen. Aleksandra Waszkiewicza street and south of the directorial park. The Roman Catholic church from 1934 which is located there forms an important local landmark.

The site is open to visitors.

compiled by Grzegorz Ryżewski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 22-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Maroszek J., Pogranicze Litwy i Korony w planach króla Zygmunta Augusta, Białystok 2000, p. 246.
  • Bajko P., Białowieża - zarys dziejów do 1950 roku, Białowieża 2001, pp. 21-69, 90-93.

transport time to the next site

3 min

Palace and park complex
Białowieża

two hours

The palace and park complex in Białowieża is one of the most valuable historical monuments of this kind in the Podlaskie province. It presents an immense historical value, having been visited by both Polish kings and Russian tsars. From 1888 onwards, the complex has been a private residence of the tsars, who lavished great attention on the entire complex - a fact reflected in both its landscape and architecture. In addition, the palace complex was also frequently visited by the most eminent representatives of the scientific, literary and artistic communities. The park surrounding the palace was designed by one of the most eminent landscape architects and garden designers of his time - Walerian Kronenberg (1859-1934), credited with producing about 300 different designs in total during his career. The Imperial park in Białowieża remains one of Kronenberg’s greatest achievements, as warranted by the spectacular scale of the project and the identity of the investor, remaining an excellent example of a ring-shaped park, with this particular type of design being often referred to as a calligraphic park.

History

A hunting lodge or manor house in Białowieża is believed to have existed here as early as in the 16th century. In the mid- 18th century, a new, much grander hunting palace (manor house) was erected, along with various auxiliary structures. All these buildings have later been destroyed during the November Uprising. Before 1860, the wooden hunting lodge which had stood on the shores of the nearby pond from 1845 was remodelled in order to cater to the needs of the tsar himself; today, this building is known as the former hunting lodge. Most of the design and construction works were conducted in the years 1890-1895, when the design for an English-style landscape park was produced by Walerian Kronenberg and when the impressive palace designed in the eclectic style by Nicolas de Rochefort was erected, along with a number of accompanying structures. The works were still in progress as the 20th century dawned; for example, both the so-called ranger house and the hofmeister’s house were erected in 1904, based on the design produced the architect Niesalewicz. The entire complex suffered damage during World War I. After 1918, the palace and park complex was taken over by the Polish government. The buildings were now occupied by various district authorities, research institutions, a forestry school and the National Park administration, with some of them housing natural and scientific collections of various sorts. During World War II, the Białowieża residence, along with the entire forest, which was now a designated hunting area, remained under the direct administration of Hermann Göring. In 1944 the retreating Germans set the palace on fire. Its walls have survived until the 1960s, when the ruins were razed to the ground, with a new building being erected on the site shortly thereafter. In 1975, the carriage house was likewise torn down, while the former power station building underwent a redesign. In addition, a number of new buildings have also been erected during that period. Today, the main building erected on the foundations of the former palace houses the administration of the Białowieża National Park which also exercises supervision over the entire palace and park complex in Białowieża.

Description

The palace and park complex in Białowieża is located in the western part of the village. Its current boundaries are Kolejowa and Zastawa streets to the south, the Paczoskiego street to the west, the extension of Żubrowa street to the north and Parkowa and Sportowa streets to the east. In the middle of the complex stands the Białowieża National Park administrative building, erected on the foundations of the now-vanished palace, positioned north of the ponds which take up the southern part of the park. The English-style landscape park - known as the Palace Park even after the palace itself is no longer extant - stretches to the north of the administrative building. The historical buildings forming part of the complex are located on the eastern and western sides of the former palace, in the southern part of the Palace Park, north of the ponds; they include the ranger house - a two-storey brick building with a twelve-axial façade, erected in 1904; the hofmeister’s house - a three-storey brick building designed on an L-shaped floor plan; the coachmen’s house - a single-storey brick building with a habitable attic, erected somewhere around the year 1895; the former forester’s lodge - a single-storey wooden building from 1845, resembling a typical manor house and featuring lavish fretwork decorations; the former bath house - a single-storey brick building designed on a T-shaped floor plan, erected in the late 19th century; the storage building - a single-storey wooden structure erected towards the end of the 19th century; the mill - a single-storey brick and stone building with a basement, erected in the 19th century; the stable and the coach house - a brick and wooden structure, erected on a cruciform floor plan during the late 19th century; the gatehouse - a two-storey brick and stone building with a gate in its ground floor section, flanked by annexes adjoining its southern and northern sides; and the house no. 9 - a single-storey wooden building erected in the late 19th century.

The site is open to visitors.

compiled by Grzegorz Ryżewski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 22-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Szymański W., Przewodnik po Puszczy Białowieskiej, Vilnius 1925, pp. 10-23.
  • Bończak-Kucharczyk E., Maroszek J., Kucharczyk K., Katalog parków i ogrodów zabytkowych dawnego województwa białostockiego. Stan z 1988 roku, vol. 1, Białystok 2000, pp. 21-24.
  • Bajko P., Białowieża - zarys dziejów do 1950 roku, Białowieża 2001, pp. 21-69, 87-95.

transport time to the next site

9 min

Water tower, currently serving as a hotel
Białowieża

15 minuts

The water tower is one of the few well-preserved structures of this type in the Podlaskie province. The water tower forms part of the Białowieża Towarowa (Białowieża-Freight) railway station complex, erected to serve the needs of the now-vanished tsar’s palace in Białowieża. Its architecture is clearly reminiscent of other Imperial Russian railway buildings that were erected across the region at the end of the 19th century and in the early 20th century. Today, it remains a valuable industrial monument dating back to the early days when rail transport was only just beginning to make inroads into the region.

History

The water tower was built in 1903 or thereabouts; it forms part of the Białowieża Towarowa freight railway station designed as an auxiliary facility intended to support the operations of the now-defunct Białowieża-Palace station, erected in 1897. The railway station was also intended to cater to the needs of the now-vanished Imperial residence. In the 1990s, the railway line was finally closed down, with both the water tower and the surrounding buildings slowly succumbing to decay. In 2003, the historical complex (including the water tower) was sold to private individuals, who have conducted a comprehensive restoration of the buildings. Today, the former railway station serves as the Imperial Restaurant, with the water tower having been converted to serve residential purposes. The apartments within the structure are available for rental.

Description

The former water tower forms part of the complex of railway buildings known as the Białowieża Towarowa railway station, located about 2 kilometres to the south-west from the centre of the village. The tower itself is positioned about 90 metres east of the railway station. The structure was designed on an octagonal floor plan; it is a three-storey building, its third storey being wider than the lower two. The water tower is covered with a multi-pitched roof surmounted by a decorative pinnacle. It is a masonry structure made of yellow brick, its foundations made of stone and bound using mortar. The roof is clad with sheet metal. The individual storeys are separated by brick cornices. The entrance door topped with a flattened arch and covered by a metal rooflet is positioned on the ground-floor level of the structure. The entire tower is entwined by an outdoor metal staircase leading up to the third storey. Back in the 1980s, the tower still contained its original fixtures and fittings, including a steel water tank positioned between the first- and second-floor level, connected to the heating apparatus using a system of inflow and outflow pipes. A steel coal furnace manufactured by a company known as “J. John”, based in Łódź, was positioned beneath the tank, its task being to prevent the water within from freezing when the outside temperature dropped below zero. Today, the tower contains luxurious guest apartments.

The building can be viewed from the outside.

compiled by Grzegorz Ryżewski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 20-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Ryżewski G., Zabytki techniki, [in:] Perły architektury województwa podlaskiego, Białystok-Bydgoszcz 2010, pp. 107, 112.
  • Stankiewicz D., Dworzec kolejowy w Białowieży Towarowej laureatem konkursu Generalnego Konserwatora Zabytków, “Biuletyn Konserwatorski Województwa Podlaskiego, issue 11, 2005, pp. 229-240.
  • Bajko P., Z historii linii kolejowej Hajnówka-Białowieża, “Białostocczyzna”, no. 1, 1988, pp. 13-15.
  • Record sheet, Białowieża. Wieża wodna w zespole PKP Białowieża - Towarowa, compiled by M., H., Grabski, Białystok 1987, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Białystok.

Railway station, currently serving as a restaurant
Białowieża

15 minuts

The railway station building at the Białowieża-Towarowa (Białowieża-Freight) railway station, erected to serve the needs of the nearby residence of the Russian tsars, is one of the few well-preserved structures of this type in the Podlaskie province. The fact that the railway station was erected on private land owned by the Russian tsars has resulted in the building itself being designed in an unusually lavish manner; in the modern times, during the 1980s, the railway station served as an inspiration for artists such as the film director Andrzej Wajda, who used it as a location for a number of scenes for his film Demons, based on the book by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Following an exemplary restoration, the railway station won the 2004 “Well-Preserved Monument” prize, awarded by the General Monuments Inspector. In 2008, the railway station won the 1st prize in the contest for the Best-Preserved Rural Wooden Building in the Podlaskie Province, awarded in recognition of the meticulous attention to detail lavished on the building in the course of restoration which ensured the preservation of numerous original features, including both the interior layout and the period heating system. The building also presents an outstanding artistic value, being reminiscent of the sumptuously decorated Russian railway architecture of the late 19th and early 20th century. The fretwork decorations which grace the gables and window headers are a clear nod towards both the residential architecture of Imperial Russia and the design of the so-called Swiss-style villas, which remained highly popular in various European resort towns at the time.

History

The freight railway station building was built in 1903 or thereabouts; it was designed as an auxiliary station intended to support the operation of the now-defunct Białowieża-Palace railway station, erected in 1897. The railway station was also intended to cater to the needs of the now-vanished Imperial residence. The picturesque architecture of the railway station has attracted various film crews to the site, including from Germany, England and Japan. In the 1980s, Andrzej Wajda came to the site to film a number of scenes for his Demons, an adaptation of the novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. In the 1990s, the railway line was finally closed down, with the station building itself being left in an increasingly dilapidated state. In 2003, the historical monument was sold to private individuals, who have conducted a comprehensive restoration of the structure. Today, the former railway station serves as the Imperial Restaurant.

Description

The railway station building on the Białowieża-Towarowa station is located about 2 kilometres to the south-east from the centre of the village. The building, designed on an elongated rectangular floor plan, features a wide front façade with a pair of central avant-corps on both sides, accentuating the areas occupied by the waiting area on the platform side and the ticket office and administrative facilities on the other side of the structure. Both the main body and the avant-corps are covered with gable roofs. The railway station is a wooden log structure positioned atop stone foundations bound with mortar; the roofs are clad with ceramic roof tiles. The façades are covered with weatherboards positioned horizontally, with a diagonal arrangement used for the gables. Notable features of the building’s design are the sumptuously decorated fretwork panels which grace the gables of the avant-corps, the lavish window headers and other woodcarved decorations. The interior décor is likewise designed to bring back the spirit of the era of tsar Nicholas II of Russia, as evidenced by the presence of late 19th-century and early 20th-century furniture, portraits of the Emperor as well as other period fixtures and fittings.

The historical monument is accessible to visitors.

compiled by Grzegorz Ryżewski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 21-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Kułak A., Budynki użyteczności publicznej, [w:] Perły architektury województwa podlaskiego, Białystok-Bydgoszcz 2010, s. 98, 102.
  • Stankiewicz D., Dworzec kolejowy w Białowieży Towarowej laureatem konkursu Generalnego Konserwatora Zabytków, „Biuletyn Konserwatorski Województwa Podlaskiego, z. 11, 2005, s. 229-240.
  • Bajko P., Z historii linii kolejowej Hajnówka-Białowieża, „Białostocczyzna”, nr 1, 1988, s. 13-15.

transport time to the next site

9 min

St Nicolas the Miracle Worker Orthodox parish tserkva
Białowieża

30 minutes

The St Nicolas tserkva in Białowieża is distinctive for its artistic values due to sophisticated architecture and valuable equipment. Shortly after erection, in the late 19th century, the temple was widely recognised (by the press of then) as the most beautiful one in the entire Grodno Governorate. Historical values are related to governors and founders of the tserkva - the Tsar family. The feature was founded and erected under the personal supervision of Tsar Alexander III; it was visited by the most acclaimed state and clerical dignitaries; it has been a place where important religious and secular celebrations are held.

History

A wooden tserkva in Białowieża existed already in the late 18th century; at that time, it was a Uniate temple (Greek Catholic). Most probably in the early 19th century, an independent parish was established here. Another wooden building was erected in 1853 as the St Nicolas the Miracle Worker Orthodox church (the union was disbanded in 1839). When the Białowieża Forest became property of the monarch in 1888, the Tsar began to erect his hunting estate in Białowieża in 1889. Most probably, it was around that time that the current tserkva began to be built. It was designed by Pimenov, an architect from Vilnius. In 1894, the construction site was visited by Tsar Alexander III. The tserkva was consecrated in 1895. A beautiful, ceramic iconostasis was brought from Petersburg. Finally, the tserkva was completed in 1897, just before the visit of Tsar Nicolas II. During his frequent stays in Białowieża, the monarch liked to spend time in the tserkva, listening to parish choirs. The temple obtained electrical lighting in 1907. The feature survived World War I and it was renovated in the inter-war period. On 1 September 1939, a bomb destroyed one of the walls and wrought havoc in the interior. Fortunately, damages were quite quickly repaired. After World War II, paintings were made in the temple’s interior and various pieces of equipment were installed (furnaces, chandeliers, lining, carpets, etc.); the roofing was replaced, and the new electrical and lightning protection systems were added. In the post-war times, the tserkva was visited by top Orthodox dignitaries from Poland and from abroad, it hosted Orthodox music concerts and other cultural events (among others, the Belarussian Wedding movie was shot here).

Description

The tserkva is located in the centre of Białowieża, on a small elevation, at the main General Aleksander Waszkiewicz Street, on its northern side. The structure is located on a Greek cross plan, with a polygonally terminated chancel. A fragmented body consists of intertwining cuboids. A cupola at the crossing of naves and a bell tower above the porch. The cupola and tower are crowned with lanterns with onion-like spires forming a base for Orthodox crucifixes. The building was made of brick and has remained unplastered. Inside, there is a beautiful iconostasis made of ceramic materials.

Accessible historic structure.

compiled by Grzegorz Ryżewski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Bialystok, 13-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Bajko P., Białowieża. Zarys dziejów, Białystok 2001, s. 30-34, 36-37, 43-44.
  • Bajko P., Rys historyczny parafii prawosławnej w Białowieży, „Białostocczyzna” 1989, nr 1, s. 21-24.

transport time to the next site

5 min

St Theresa of the Child Jesus parish church
Białowieża

30 minutes

The feature is a good example of the so-called national style, reminiscent of the Polish Renaissance of the 17th century. An excellent architect, scenographer and lecturer of the Warsaw University of Science, Borys von Zinserling (1889-1961), designed the church.

History

The Roman-Catholic parish in Białowieża was founded in 1926. Masses were celebrated at first in a chapel arranged in a former Tsar’s palace. A year later, the construction of the discussed temple began. The design was prepared by a well-known architect, Borys von Zinserling (1889-1961), active in Warsaw. He prepared stage designs for pre-war Qui Pro Quo and Persian Eye cabarets as well as operettas staged in Teatr Nowości [Theatre of Novelties]. He was an author of such buildings as the Runo Villa in Zalesie Dolne, Weidiger apartment house in Warsaw as well as numerous reconstructions, for example, of the Raczyńskis Palace, the Młodziejowskis Palace and the Council of Ministers’ Palace. The church was consecrated in 1934, but due to insufficient funds, it remained unfinished for some time. Only in the 1970s did the intense repair and finishing works begin. Numerous root sculptures were introduced and a 17-voices church organ was built in 2007.

Description

The structure is located in an eastern part of the town, in General Aleksander Waszkiewicz Street, on its northern side. The church was erected on a Latin cross floor plan and has a perpendicular body. The main corpus is covered by a gable roof, a three-sided, buttressed presbytery with a three-sloped roof, while annexes at the presbytery with triangular, multi-layered, sloped gables are covered with shed roof. At a facade, there is a tower with buttressed corners, narrowing upwards in three steps and locked with an attic. On the tower’s sides, there are two rectangular annexes with buttressed corners, reaching up to the second floor and crowned with attics. There is a steeple at the crossing of a nave and a transept.

The church is a brick building with plastered walls.

The main entrance on the facade is semi-circularly finished. Over a cornice, there is a niche topped with a rectangular window; four bell openings on the last floor of the bell tower with installed windows. Side façades are topped with a cornice. They contain three spans separated by buttresses. Windows terminate in semi-circular arches. The interior is a three-nave hall. The main nave contains a barrel vault resting on pillars with imposts. Side naves are covered with transverse barrels. There are arcades between naves. A crossing of a nave and a transept is covered with a dome with visible arches. A presbytery covered with a barrel vault.

Accessible structure.

compiled by Grzegorz Ryżewski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Bialystok, 13-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Spis kościołów i duchowieństwa Archidiecezji Białostockiej 2008, Białystok 2008, s. 115-116.
  • Jabłoński K.A., Budownictwo kościelne 1795-1939 na terenie Archidiecezji Białostocki, Białystok 2002, s. 185-187.

transport time to the next site

12 min

leśniczówka
Białowieża

15 minuts

transport time to the next site

12 min

brama wjazdowa
Białowieża

15 minuts

transport time to the next site

2 min

kapliczka prawosławna
Białowieża

15 minuts

transport time to the next site

12 min

leśniczówka II
Białowieża

15 minuts

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