Kórnik Castle is one of the most frequently visited historical buildings in Wielkopolska region. Two of Wielkopolska’s leading dynasties – the Górka family of the Łodzia coat of arms and the Działyński family of the Ogończyk coat of arms – are responsible for its existence and its splendour.
The castle was first mentioned in 1426 in a contract between the owner, Mikołaj Górka, and a carpenter working on it. The building comprises two defensive wings, is surrounded by a moat, and is accessible from the south via a drawbridge. Stanisław was the last owner connected to the Górka family. In 1574, he entertained King Henry III of France here. The Gothic building next to the north section was probably put up during his time.The next owner was Inowrocław Voivode Zygmunt Grudziński. He welcomed King Zygmunt III (Sigismund III Vasa) to Kórnik in 1623.
The Działyński family purchased the estate in 1676. Teofila Szołdrska (Teofila Potulicka after remarriage) became the owner of Kórnik in 1732 and converted the domicile into a baroque residence with a garden. Teofila can still be seen in the dining room portrait during the day and as the famous White Lady haunting the park at night. There was a building in which silkworms were bred and next to which mulberry trees were planted.
Tytus Działyński inherited the estate in 1826. He made the castle his family residence and the place of safekeeping for his library and militaria collection. In 1828, the eminent Berlin architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel completed a design to rebuild the castle in the neo-Gothic style. The Moorish Hall, the largest in the residence, was reserved for the book, militaria and art collections. The Ogończyk coat of arms of the Działyński family and the Jelita coat of arms of the Zamoyski family adorning the facade and interior made it clear who owned Kórnik Castle. The Ogończyk and Pogoń (or Czartoryski) coats of arms indicate the next hereditary owners. The coats of arms of prominent Polish families on the dining hall ceiling and above the staircase leading to the top floor serve as reminders of the castle’s former owners.
The Voivodeship coats of arms in the Moorish Hall recall the splendour of the Polish state prior to the partitions. The residential quarters are on the second floor. Tytus left the estate to his son Jan. Most of the Kórnik library was kept in specially adapted rooms in those days. He also installed a museum in the castle. The garden was reorganised after the romantic fashion and the plant nursery was expanded.
Władysław Zamoyski inherited the estate, along with all its chattels, in 1880 when Jan Działyński died without an heir. Władysław Zamoyski was forced to evacuate Kórnik in 1885. When he returned in 1920, he was persuaded that the estate and its priceless library should benefit society. He therefore set up the “Kórnik Foundation” prior to his death in 1924 and bequeathed it all his Zakopane and Kórnik properties in his will. The Foundation began administering Władysław Zamoyski’s bequest once it was ratified by the senate in 1925. Since 1952, the castle and library have been administered by the Polish Academy of Sciences (Kórnik Library).
The interiors and furniture of the Działyński era have all survived. Paintings include portraits of erstwhile owners and the valuable objects they once owned are on display – alongside the militaria – in the museum interiors.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.