Palaces, manors and town halls in Poland

Kraków Cloth Hall

The Cloth Hall in Kraków dates to the Renaissance and is one of the city"s most recognizable icons. It is the central feature of the main market square in the Kraków Old Town (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978). The hall was once a major centre of international trade. Traveling merchants met there to discuss business and to barter. During its golden age in the 15th century, the hall was ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Kraków, Poland

Wroclaw Town Hall

The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall"s long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant. The town hall was developed over a peri ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Wrocław, Poland

Artus Court

The Artus Court (Dwór Artusa) was used to be the meeting place of merchants and a centre of social life. Today it is a point of interest of numerous visitors and a branch of the Gdańsk History Museum. The name was taken from the very popular medieval legend of King Arthur - a symbol of chivalry and gallantry. The heyday of the Artus Court falls into 16th and 17th century, but its history is much longer. The name of the ...
Founded: 1348-1350 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Main Town Hall

The main headquarters of the Gdańsk History Museum is a Gothic-Renaissance Main Town Hall, dominating the panorama of the Royal Route – the most representative route of the listed part of the city. The origins of the Town Hall, which from the very beginning was the seat of the authorities of the main Gdańsk area, from the 14th century referred to as the Main City, go back to the early Middle Ages. From the ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Palace of Culture and Science

The Palace of Culture and Science is the tallest building in Poland and the eighth tallest building in the European Union. It is 231 metres tall, which includes a 43-metre high spire. The building was originally known as the Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science, but in the wake of destalinization the dedication to Stalin was revoked. The building was conceived as a 'gift from the Soviet people to the Polish n ...
Founded: 1952-1955 | Location: Warsaw, Poland

Green Gate

The Green Gate (Brama Zielona) is one of the city"s most notable tourist attractions. With the Golden Gate and the Highland Gate, the Green Gate spans the Long Market and Long Street, together comprising the Royal Route. The Green Gate was clearly inspired by the Antwerp City Hall. It was built 1568-1571 as the formal residence of Poland's monarchs. It is a masterpiece by Regnier (or Reiner van Amsterdam), an Amsterd ...
Founded: 1568-1571 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Centennial Hall

The Centennial Hall was constructed according to the plans of architect Max Berg in 1911–1913, when the city was part of the German Empire. The building and surroundings is frequently visited by tourists and the local populace. As an early landmark of reinforced concrete architecture, the building became one of Poland"s official national Historic Monuments, as designated April 20, 2005, together with the Four Domes ...
Founded: 1911-1913 | Location: Wrocław, Poland

Presidential Palace

The Presidential Palace is the elegant classicist latest version of a building that has stood on the Krakowskie Przedmieście site since 1643. Over the years, it has been rebuilt and remodeled many times. For its first 175 years, the palace was the private property of several aristocratic families. In 1791 it hosted the authors and advocates of the Constitution of May 3, 1791. It was in 1818 that the palace began its ...
Founded: 1643 | Location: Warsaw, Poland

Town Hall

Located in the centre of the Old City Market Square, the monumental Old City Town Hall is one of the biggest and most magnificent town halls in Europe. It is a monument to Toruń"s glory as the former trade empire of Hansa. The construction began in 1274 and it was extended and rebuilt between 1391 and 1399 and extended again at the end of the 16th century. Today Town Hall hosts the District Museum, which is one ...
Founded: 1274 | Location: Toruń, Poland

Uphagens’ House

The Uphagen House was erected in the second half of the 18th century by Jan Uphagen, who obliged future owners to preserve the house in its original form. Thanks to this agreement, the building’s original character has been preserved and now houses the Museum of Patrician Interiors. The Uphagen House is a memory of Gdańsk’s former glory. It features a hall, lofty interiors, a stone slab floor built and wa ...
Founded: 1775-1787 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Lazienki Palace

The origins of today’s Łazienki Palace date back to the late 17th century. The Bathhouse was built at the behest of Prince Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski, one of the most important politicians, writers and philosophers of the time. The Baroque garden pavilion, designed by the Dutch architect, Tylman van Gameren, was intended as a place for resting, leisure and contemplation. The interiors of the Bathhouse were styliz ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Warsaw, Poland

Wilanów Palace

The history of the Wilanow Palace, a wonderful Baroque royal residence, began on April 23, 1677, when a village became the property of King John Sobieski III. Augustyn Locci, the king’s court architect, received the task of creating only a ground floor residence of a layout typical for the buildings of the Republic of Poland. However, military successes and an increase of the importance of royalty in the coming years ha ...
Founded: 1677-1696 | Location: Warsaw, Poland

Abbot's Palace

The Abbots' Palace (Pałac Opatów w Oliwie) is a roccoco style palace in Oliwa. The first portion of the palace, the 'Old Palace' was constructed in the 15th century. Later, in the first half of the sixteen hundreds a 'New Palace' was added, which served as the residency of the then abbot of the Cistercians, Jan Grabiński. The final additions to the palace were made between 1754 and 175 ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Old Town Hall

The 16th-century Renaissance building was once home to the office of the Polish astronomer and city councillor Johann Hevelius, whose statue can be found in the park in front of the building. The former headquarters of the Council of Gdansk, the Old Town Hall served as the headquarters of the Soviet Army during the dying days of WWII, probably because it was practically the only building left standing in the city at the t ...
Founded: 1517 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Belweder

Belweder Palace is today the residence of President of the Republic of Poland. The present building is the latest of several that stood on the site since 1660. Belweder once belonged to Poland"s last king, Stanisław August Poniatowski, who used it as a porcelain-manufacturing plant. From 1818 it was the residence of Russian Grand Duke Constantine, who fled it at the beginning of the November 1830 Uprising. Afte ...
Founded: 1660 | Location: Warsaw, Poland

Royal Palace

The Royal Palace was originally a palace of the Prussian monarchy and today it houses the city museum. Initially a Baroque palace of Heinrich Gottfried von Spätgen, chancellor of Bishop Francis Louis of Neuburg, it was built in 1717 in a Viennese style. In 1750, after Prussia took control over Silesia in the First Silesian War, the palace was purchased by the Prussian king Frederick the Great and was converted into his r ...
Founded: 1717 | Location: Wrocław, Poland

Ostrogski Palace

Ostrogski Palace site was bought by Prince Janusz Ostrogski in early 17th century. As the area had been still a suburb of Warsaw and exempted from the laws of the city which prevented the inhabitants from building private fortifications, Ostrogski decided to build a small castle there. For that he financed a bastion on which the manor was to be constructed. However, it was not until after his death that the manor itself w ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Warsaw, Poland

Old City Town Hall

Old City Town Hall in Szczecin is a shingle-roofed hall built for the municipal government in the 15th century.At the time of its construction it was known as the new Town Hall erected at the site of the one built in the previous century. In 1968, the building was brought back to its original look. With care and skill were restored, among others, Gothic ornaments of the interior walls. A sumptuously adorned elevation was ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Szczecin, Poland

Brzeg Town Hall

Brzeg Town Hall is a Renaissance building designed by Bernard Niuron built between 1569 and 1577. It is considered to be one of the most important Renaissance monuments in Poland. In addition to its role as the seat of the municipal government of Brzeg, the building houses several other institutions. The first building housing the municipal government in Brzeg already existed in the 14th century but was burned down ...
Founded: 1569-1577 | Location: Brzeg, Poland

Lomnica Palace

The history of the of Lomnitz (Lomnica) estate goes far back into the Middle Ages, and in the course of centuries they changed owners several times. Between 1835 and 1945 the property belonged to the von Küster family, after World War II the Castle was seized and the Polish state became the new owner. After the fall of the Iron Curtain the family was able to purchase the Great Castle back, which had fallen into ruins and ...
Founded: 1720 | Location: Mysłakowice, Poland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.