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 Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.