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By Pogranicze Media
Published: 10.10.2010

photo (zakapior)

Łańcut – the castle

   The castle in Łańcut is one of the most beautiful, the best preserved and the most frequently visited castles in the Podkarpacie Region. The building was assigned to the group of international monuments.
   The Pilecki families were the first owners of the castle. The castle situated on Łysa Góra constituted the Northern end of Łańcut (the town) which was built probably in the second half of the 14th century in the place of a former settlement. The Pilecki family ruled in Łańcut for two centuries, and they also raised defensive buildings and founded a church and a monastery of Dominicans.

    In 1586, Łańcut went into the hands of the Stadnicki family; first it belonged to Stanisław Stadnicki, the starost of Sigulda called “the Devil of Łańcut”, and then to his two sons. This part of the castle’s history is full of continuous, destructive attacks of the Korniakt family and the Ossoliński family. A nickname of Stanisław Stadnicki - “the Devil of Łańcut”- had its source in his private wars, his looting excursions and his robbery attacks on neighboring courts and towns. Using hired troops of haiduks, the Devil of Łańcut did not spare his enemies cruelty, he tore people’s skin into bands, and he cut off hands or buried people alive. Unfortunately, peasant, i.e. not his opponents but their subjects, suffered the most. Stadnicki’s run of luck ended when Łukasz Opaliński, the starost of Leżajsk, started a war with Stadnicki as a response to his rowdy behavior. As a result of this war, the castle, the town and the neighboring villages were burnt.
    After the Stadnicki family, the Lubomirski family entered the history of Łańcut. The first owner with this surname, Stanisław Lubomirski, the voivode of
Ruthenia and Cracow
, took over the castle in 1626 because of the unpaid debts of the Stadnicki family. As a property of the Lubomirski family, Łańcut was transformed into a fortress - a residence. Stanisław Lubomirski, who wanted to have a safe, military important seat, rebuilt and strengthened the building, he raised retrenchment and surrounded it by a powerful fortification. The whole was strengthened by shafts, and the fortification was supported by a deep, dry moat surrounded by one more earth shaft. It is supposed that Stanisław Lubomirski hired a famous at that time Italian architect, Maciej Trapola, who was to rebuild the castle. The castle and the fortification were based on foundations of an Old Dutch school. It represented a type of foundations called in Italian “palazzo in fortezza”, which means that the building served both residential and defensive purposes. For the protection of the castle Lubomirski kept a 300 hundred people crew armed with shotguns. The castle was at that time one of the main and at the same time one of the most modern defensive buildings in the Basin of Wisłok River, next to Jarosław and Rzeszów. Stanisław Lubomirski’s activity was a very important period in the castle’s history, to a certain degree it decided about its future history.
    The castle remained in the hands of the Lubomirski family for 200 years. Stanisław Lubomirski, whose wife was Izabela Czartoryska, was the last owner of the castle belonging to the Lubomirski family. From that moment, after the properties of the Lubomirski family and of the Czartoryski family were connected, a period of the castle’s splendor began. A change of the political situation also influenced it. The Turkish and the Swedish attacks ceased. The castle lost its defensive meaning but it was changing into a palace residence, one of the richest properties of that time in
Europe. Due to many prominent architects, painters, sculptors and other people connected with art that were brought from abroad, the fortress in Łańcut was becoming a beautiful residence belonging to one of the biggest lordly families in Poland. Such prominent architects as: Szymon Bogumił  Zug, Johann Christian Kammsetzer, Christian Piotr Aigner, and painters: Vincenzo Brenna, brothers Smuglewicz and others worked for the duchess. “Room under the View”, “Brenna’s Apartment”, “Chinese Apartment”, “Turkish Apartment”, all with an authentic interior decorations, come from that time. Beautiful palace rooms represented Rococo and two varieties of Classicism. Thanks to the duchess, around the castle there is a landscape park with a neoclassical orangey and a gloriette. The duchess did not spare money for a purchase of works of art brought from all over the Europe. Also a library and a palace theatre were added. Apart from the moat, a Neo-Gothic Romantic Castle
, which was supposed to be a place of a quiet rest for the duchess after loud parties and meetings with guests, was raised.
   After the Lubomirski family, the goods in Łańcut went into the hands of Alfred Potocki, who created a family estate there. Since then, the goods in Łańcut were inherited by the oldest son of each owner. Alfred Potocki, similarly to his grandmother Izabela Lubomirska, also beautified and enriched the residence.
    In the half of the 19th century, a successor of the first heir, Alfred II Potocki, stayed mainly in
Vienna and Lvov
, where he served many public functions, and this caused that Łańcut started to collapse. The next heir, Roman, married to Elżbieta Radziwiłłówna, brought the castle back its former splendor. On the initiative of Elżbieta Radziwiłłówna the castle was thoroughly rebuilt and adapted to requirements of the present days, but preserving the precious interiors from the times of duchess Lubomirska were also taken into consideration. The residence gained then an elevation in a French Neo-Baroque style - preserved till today - and the castle’s interiors were modernized. A water-supply system, a sewage system, a central heating were installed, an electrification was conducted, and telephones were installed.
    A stable and a carriage house were built. A part of the carriage house was devoted to vehicles already withdrawn from use but, above all, a collection of horse-drawn vehicles and harnesses used at that time could have been found there. The vehicles of the best European companies, also from
Vienna, Paris and London, were also there. A carriage in which Frederic Chopin traveled is a very interesting element of the collection. Today, the carriages in Łańcut constitute the only collection of this type in Poland, and one of few representing the last era of horse-drawn carriages in Europe. An area of the park was enlarged twice and the park was transformed in an English style. The whole area was fenced and it was added three decorative gates. The last owner, Alfred Potocki, lived in the residence with his mother almost till the end of the 20th century. The war did not destroy the castle, but the most precious part of it, i.e. the collection of works of art, was irrevocably lost for Poland. While escaping the coming Eastern frontline, Alfred Potocki took to Liechtenstein
11 carriages with the most precious treasures gathered in the castle. In the interwar period, he made the castle available for diplomatic meetings. In November 1944, the Polish authorities decided to open in the castle an official museum for the visitors. In the 50s, important renovation and conservation works started. Also a type of the museum, whose the most prominent function was to show monumental palace interiors above all from the 17th and the 19th centuries, was defined. A non-monumental part of the castle was adapted for touristy purposes.
    Nowadays, the collection in the Castle-Museum in Łańcut is being complemented by works of art borrowed or bought from other places. Visitors may tour the castle with a guide. A preserved artistic authenticity of the palace interiors causes that the museum is exceptional and unique. A castle library with 22 thousand volumes which remained after the Potocki family and around 20 thousand ones bought by the museum deserve a special notice. The collection includes unique old prints, manuscripts, and cartographical items, encyclopedias of history, of geography and of other sciences.
    The landscape park which surrounds the castle is also very important. Due to its charm and due to a rich collection of plants, it attracts crowds of tourists, especially from spring to autumn. The park has an area of around 31 hectares and is divided into three parts of different kind and with different view: the inner park, the outer park and the small Southern park in the closest neighborhood of the abovementioned carriage house. The Italian garden, the
Perennial Garden, the Rose Garden, the Winter Garden or the Orangey remain in the visitors’ memory for a long time. In the park there are: a big, horse riding school, an orchid house, a tennis-court. One should also remember to visit the Romantic Castle
, the stable, and the carriage house, in which there are around 80 thousand horse drawn carriages.

photo (bo)
look here photo galleries Łańcut

Łańcut – the town

   The oldest history of the town is hard to define. Information from archeological researches conducted in Łańcut confirms the existence of a settlement from around 4000 years B.C. The lack of sources does not allow defining a precise date of the origin of the town. A first reliable document confirming the existence of Łańcut is a papal bull of Pope  Gregory XI from
28th January 1378, in which a Dominican convent existing then among others in Łańcut was entrusted to perform missionary functions in Ruthenia. Łańcut as a town appears for the first time in 1381 in a location document of village Langenau issued in Łańcut by Otton from Pilica. 1349 is said to have been a year of the town’s location. At the same time, in Łańcut, there was a wooden St. Barbara church and, according to the church tradition, this date is also associated with the beginnings of a parish and with a location of Łańcut - granting the city rights by king Casimir the Great. Otton from Pilica - Pilecki, Topór coat of arms, who received the goods in Łańcut from Casimir the Great for his merits during performing a function of the Ruthenian starost- was the first owner of the town. A seat of the Pilecki family was located in the area where today the buildings of a parsonage are. Łańcut was in the hands of this family until 1586. The next owners were: the Stadnicki family, the Lubomirski family, and the Potocki family - until 1944. Therefore, for several hundred years the town remained in the shadow of a great lordly residence. On the other hand, a well prospering economic life of the latifundium, cultural life in the  castle, visits of magnates and kings favorably influenced the development of the town and its meaning. During the times of the Pilecki family, the town situated on an important trade route experienced a period of prosperity. Already in 1406, weaver apprentices from Łańcut were given a charter with a stamp of the Łańcut Town
presenting St. Michael killing a dragon - this emblem has survived for centuries and became a town’s coat of arms. Numerous visits of crowned heads (Casimir the Great, Vladislaus Jadiełło, Prince Vytautas, Sigismund of Luxemburg and Sigismund the Old) added splendor to a favorable development of Łańcut. Around 1586, Anna of the Sieniawski family Pilecka and Stanisław from Żmigród - later called “the Devil of Łańcut” - exchanged the goods in Łańcut for debts. Because of numerous wars with Mikołaj Spytek Ligęza from Rzeszów, with the Korniakt family, with Łukasz Opaliński, the starost of Leżajsk, the times of Stanisław are defined as the least profitable period in the town’s history. A rowdy way of life of Stanisław Stadnicki leads in 1608 to a complete devastation of the mansion and a considerable impoverishment of Łańcut. After the death of Stanisław, his sons rebuilt their seat outside the town’s borders - in the place, where the present Castle is located.
    In 1629, the impoverished goods of Łańcut were repurchased from the Stadnicki family by Stanisław Lubomirski. The castle owes this family its present shape and the transformation of the fortress into a great palace-like residence. Łańcut belonged to the Lubomirski family until 1816. Then, after the death of Duchess Izabela Lubomirska, her two grandsons, Alfred and Artur Potocki, became the successors of the goods in Łańcut. After a division of the property, Alfred created an entailed estate in which the Potocki family ruled until 1944. Due to its location, the town’s history was very complicated - Łańcut was numerously plundered and burnt by the Walachians (1498), the Tatars (1502, 1523, 1624).

    1657 by duke of Transilvania George I Rákóczi, destroyed and robbed during many marches of armies, oppressed by plagues. The last great fire in 1820 destroyed all wooden buildings in the town. From the moment when the Potocki family took over the town, they started an animated economic and building activity. Therefore, from the beginning of the 19th century Łańcut began to lift from the fall. The Potocki family opened a brewery, a liqueur factory, spirit refineries, sugar factories, granaries, hop fields. A construction of
Cracow - Lvov railway to a great extent contributed to the town’s development. In 1910, around 5.5 thousand of people lived in  Łańcut - 1/3 of them were of Jewish origin. During the interwar decade, the town experienced a period of stagnation, and led a life of a provincial town. During two World Wars, Łańcut did not incur bigger material losses but it lost many inhabitants, especially the Jews. A dynamic development of the town took place in 1945. Town waterworks were built, water and sewer system was enlarged, new housing estates were raised, new industrial institutions, and cultural and educational buildings were enlarged and built. Thanks to all these changes, Łańcut started to perform a function of a local administrative and economic centre. At the same time, the meaning of the town on the touristy and cultural map of the region and country increased.
Worked out by Zakapior
translated by Joanna Hardukiewicz
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