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 had a huge influence on expanding the initial project. Huge construction works were conducted in the years 1677-1696. After completion, the building comprised of elements of a nobility house, an Italian garden villa and a French palace in the style of Louis XIV. After the death of the King, the Palace became the property of his sons, and in 1720, a run down property was purchased by one of the wealthiest women in Poland of those days – Elizabeth Sieniawska. In 1730, the Palace, for three years, was owned by king August II the Strong, who made considerable changes in the residence, particularly as far as the internal décor is concerned.
In the middle of 18th century, the Wilanów property was inherited by the daughter of Czartoryski, wife of a field marshal, Izabela Lubomirska, during whose reign, Wilanów started shining with its previous glory. Sixty nine years later, the Duchess gave Wilanów to her daughter and her husband, Stanislaw Kostka Potocki. Thanks to his efforts, one of the first museums in Poland was opened in the Wilanów Palace, in 1805.
The exposition consists of two parts: on the main floor you will be able to see the royal apartments of the palace. Rooms where parties took place, chambers where the royal couples listened to music, met their friends and guests, and where they worked and rested. On the first floor there is the Gallery of the Polish Portrait, where you can see the effigies of the Polish monarchs collected over the centuries, representatives of great magnate families, participants of national uprisings, eminent artists and people honored by Poland. Their authors are often prominent Polish and foreign painters.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.