Branicki Palace was built for Count Jan Klemens Branicki, Great Crown Hetman and patron of art and science, who transformed a previous house into the suitably magnificent residence of a great Polish noble. He also laid out the central part of the town of Bialystok, not a large place in the 18th century, with its triangular market.
Starting in 1728 the reconstruction of the palace was directed by Johann Sigmund Deybel. Under his supervision, the structure was enhanced, the tympanum and domes on the towers were added. Deybel is also the author of the main façade. The existing pavilions and outbuildings were merged with the main building (corps de logis) according to French model to form wings surrounding a horseshoe court - the courtyard of honor (cour d'honneur), which was closed with a gate built in 1758 by Jan Henryk Klemm.
After the death of Deybel, in the years 1750–1771, the rebuilding of the palace was supervised by Jakub Fontana, who was an author of the palace's vestibule, rococo interiors and the staircase with statues by Jan Chrysostom Redler (1754). The fence between the initial (avant cour) and honor courtyard was adorned in 1757 with two monumental sculptures by Redler - Hercules fighting the dragon and Hercules fighting the hydra. Interior decorations were conducted by artists such as Szymon Czechowicz, Ludwik Marteau, Augustyn Mirys, Jean-Baptiste Pillement, fresco painters such as Georg Wilhelm Neunhertz (in 1738) and Antoni Herliczka and stucco decorators Samuel Contesse and Antoni Vogt.
The newly created Versailles de la Pologne concentrated many great artists, poets including Elżbieta Drużbacka and Franciszek Karpiński and scientists. A theater, orchestra and ballet were established.
With the third Partition of Poland it went to the Prussian Kingdom and, after 1807, to Russia. In the summer of 1920, briefly, the palace was the headquarters of the Provisional Polish Revolutionary Committee. Branicki Palace suffered from bombing and fires caused by the Germans, with damage totaling approximately 70%. It was restored after World War II as a matter of national pride. The Medical University is housed in the Palace.
A straight avenue centered on the palace passes across the river on a three-arched bridge across the river, which is confined with deep stone embankment walling, to the large enclosed paved forecourt. The central block has two storeys upon a high arcaded basement story, with a pedimented central block displaying Branicki's coat-of-arms and end pavilions that have squared domes in two tiers. The roofline is an Italianate balustrade that masks a low attic story, and the heroic sculptural group of Atlas crowning all.
Surrounding the Palace are the grounds. The garden front has a terrace raised on columns, which forms a podium for viewing the parterre in the French taste with a main central allée and French sphinxes, and a later 'English garden,' in the naturalistic taste associated with the English park, surrounding the grounds. The central axis continues to a guest pavilion. Other outbuildings include the Arsenal (1755), Orangery and Italian and Tuscan Pavilions.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.