Ruzhany Palace is a ruined palace which was between the 16th and 19th centuries the main seat of the senior line of the Sapieha noble family. Ruzhany began its life in the late 16th century as the site of Lew Sapieha's castle, the palace being completed in 1602. The Sapieha residence was destroyed in the course of the internecine strife in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania when it was attacked by Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki's forces in 1700.
Ruzhany Palace was rebuilt as a grand Neoclassical residence in the 1770s by Aleksander Michał Sapieha, employing the services of the architect Jan Samuel Becker of Saxony, who set the palace in an English park landscape. Aside from the palace, there was a theatre (1784–88), an orangery and several other outbuildings. Becker also designed the local church (rebuilt in the 1850s).
By the time of King Stanisław II's visit in 1784, work on the palace had been suspended. The Sapieha estates were nationalised in the aftermath of the November Uprising (1831). Three years later, the palace compound was sold to be used as a textile mill and weaving factory.
In 1914 the palace was accidentally set on fire by factory workers. The First World War and subsequent financial hardships prevented the building's restoration until 1930, however the partially restored palace became a ruin again within fifteen years, a casualty of the Second World War. The ornate palace gate survives and has recently been restored.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.