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 period of abo ...
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known as the Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science, but in the wake of destalinization the dedication to Stalin was revoked.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 nation ...
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 ong ...
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 walls and ceil ...
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

Izrael Poznanski Palace

The history of the Izrael Poznański Palace goes back to the 1860s. It was during this time that Kalman Poznański, a Polish-Jewish trader from Kowal in the Kuyavia region, arrived and began to live in Łódź. Kalman started a cotton industry, but it was not successful. However, when the business was taken over by his son Izrael Poznański (1833–1900), there was a phenomenal rise in the price of cotton around the world ...
Founded: 1860s | Location: Łódź, 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

Pszczyna Castle

Pszczyna Castle is a classical-style palace. Constructed as a castle in 13th century or earlier, in a Gothic architectural style, it was rebuilt in a Renaissance style in the 17th century. During the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, the exterior of the castle was partially changed into a Baroque-Classical style. The Classicist modernization transformed the complex into what is usually described a palace. In its his ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Pszczyna, 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

Branicki Palace

Branicki Palace was built for Count Jan Klemens Branicki, Great Crown Hetman and patron of art and science, who transformed a previous house into the suitably magnificent residence of a great Polish noble. He also laid out the central part of the town of Bialystok, not a large place in the 18th century, with its triangular market. Starting in 1728 the reconstruction of the palace was directed by Johann Sigmund Deybel. Un ...
Founded: 1726 | Location: Białystok, Poland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

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Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only made from earth and wood, Pembroke Castle resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle was established at the heart of the Norman-controlled lands of southwest Wales.

When William Rufus died, Arnulf de Montgomery joined his elder brother, Robert of Bellême, in rebellion against Henry I, William's brother and successor as king; when the rebellion failed, he was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles. Henry appointed his castellan, but when the chosen ally turned out to be incompetent, the King reappointed Gerald in 1102. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman invasion of Ireland.

In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshal who received both the castle and the title, Earl of Pembroke. He had the castle rebuilt in stone and established the great keep at the same time. Marshal was succeeded in turn by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.

Later de Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern. Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.

Pembroke Castle then reverted to the crown. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was a place of peace until the outbreak of the English Civil War. Although most of South Wales sided with the King, Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven. Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew.

In 1648, at the beginning of the Second Civil War, Pembroke's commander Colonel John Poyer led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke on 24 May 1648 and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their purposes.

The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay. It remained in ruins until 1880, when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until 1928, when Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and began an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses, and towers. After his death, a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke town council.

Architecture

The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by the Milford Haven Waterway. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte-and-bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.

In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. He soon became Lord Marshal of England, and set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive Norman stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral staircase connected its four stories. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden fighting-platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.

The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of the wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward. The 13th century keep is 23 metres tall with walls up to 6 metres thick at its base.

In the late 13th century, additional buildings were added to the inner ward, including a new Great Hall. A 55-step spiral staircase was also created that led down to a large limestone cave, known as Wogan Cavern, beneath the castle. The cave, which was created by natural water erosion, was fortified with a wall, a barred gateway and arrowslits. It may have served as a boathouse or a sallyport to the river where cargo or people could have been transferred.

The outer ward was defended by a large twin-towered gatehouse, a barbican and several round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres thick in places and constructed from Siltstone ashlar.

Although Pembroke Castle is a Norman-style enclosure castle with great keep, it can be more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rocky promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault on a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, with Pembroke River providing a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.