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Palace in Czemierniki

The palace-park complex in Czemierniki has been erected in the years 1615-22 with the effort of Bishop of Płock, Henryk Firlej from Dąbrowica, by a high-class architect, who referred in the palace's design and architecture to the theoretical designs of Andreo Palladio. The building is an example of the old-Italian style called "palazzo in fortezza". The palace and the town were owned by the Firlej family until the end of the 17th century. After that, they changed owners frequently. Probably during the time of the Humięcki family (18th century) the palace lost its late-Renaissance attic, and the previous roof covering has been replaced with a high mansard roof with Baroque peaks over the middle part. Its present look (with a neo-Gothic attic) is the result of the reconstruction carried out in 1852 by General Wincenty Krasiński – father of Zygmunt, author of Nie-boska komedia (Non-Divine Comedy, a romantic drama inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy). This can be read on the plaque built into the front wall of the palace. Following the 2nd World War, it has become seat for the National Children's Home, and later Special Educational Center. The complex is currently owned by the Fortalicja Czemierniki foundation, which runs conservation works aimed at restoring the building's former glory.

Nowadays, the complex includes:

  • Late-Renaissance brick palace,
  • Two-storey late-Renaissance brick gateway from 1624: ground floor and an octagonal guardhouse; at the front of the gate, there is an in-built plaque commemorating the completion of the palace construction works, which mentions the name of its founder,
  • Fortifications from the 17th century built in the old-Italian style, in the shape of a regular polygon, consisting of four bastions and curtain walls,
  • Former outbuilding built around 1629, with elements of the late Renaissance,
  • Garden within fortifications; in its heyday it was considered one of the most beautiful in Poland,
  • Ponds and dike running from the town to the gate.

We can say that for several months, Czemierniki was the informal capital city of Poland. From October 1625 to January 1626, the Polish monarch, Sigismund III Vasa was residing in the just-built residence of Bishop Firlej, along with his wife, Constance of Austria of the Habsburgs, daughter Anna Catherine and part of his court. They sought refuge here during the plague raging in Krakow.
The palace, surrounded by a fortified belt, a deep moat and ponds, was a fortress which the Swedes failed to conquer during their invasion (commonly referred to in Poland as "the Swedish flood").

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