The Church of St. Andrew was built between 1079 and 1098 by a medieval Polish statesman Palatine Sieciech. It is a rare surviving example of the European fortress church used for defensive purposes.
Built in Romanesque style, it is one of the oldest buildings in Kraków and one of the best-preserved Romanesque buildings in Poland. It was the only church in Kraków to withstand the Mongol attack of 1241. Along the lower part of the broader section of its façade are small openings that served as defensive windows at a time when the church was a place of refuge from military assaults.
From 1320 it was used by the Religious Order of Poor Clares. The building has been renovated many times. The present Baroque interiors have decorations by Baltazar Fontana, paintings by Karol Dankwart and gilded altars. The Baroque domes atop the octagonal towers were added in 1639.
The massive building was constructed from stone blocks towards the end of the 11th century, and also fulfilled important defensive functions. The two octagonal looking towers, with the doubled arcade windows are perfect examples and characteristic of Romanesque architecture. They extend high over the body of the church. The apse decorated with a modest arcade freeze and numerous details (including stairs and window frames) maintain the same character.
The structure was probably expanded, extended and strengthened up until the mid-12th century. The church successfully withstood the Tatar-Mongol raid of 1241, providing shelter for the majority of residents and inhabitants of the city. At that time, it was – quite rightly – called “the lower castle” to be distinguished from the nearby “upper” standing on top of the Wawel Hill. It was also sometimes referred to as the second church of Kraków after the Wawel Cathedral. In 1320, the church was entrusted to the Order of Poor Clares, whose convent was built south of the church. Also the brick, Gothic oratorio that today plays the role of the sacristy dates back to that period.
The baroque decoration of the interior, with rich stucco decoration by Italian painter and architect Baldassare 'Baltazar' Fontana, comes from the refurbishment that took place after 1700, while the construction of the high altar, attributed to Francesco Placidi was initiated in the upcoming years. Attention is drawn to the pulpit in the shape of a boat, and the musical choir with 18th-century organ in the chancel, decorated in the rococo manner. The baroque steeples added in 1639 contrast with the severity of the Romanesque form of the church.References:
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.