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Rody Polskie... Kurozwęcki end Popiel family...
By Jerzy Zub - Kurozwęki. Zamek; Publisher "ABC" Tarnobrzeg
Published: 20.05.2013



   The growing position of the Porait-Kurozwęckis in Poland went together with the growth of their family fortune. Consequently, in the second half of the 14th century, Dobiesław (who died in 1397) or maybe his son, also Dobiesław (whose name was written ‘de Kurozwanky’) ordered to  build in the place of a small wooden stronghold a stone castle known, as “castrum Curoswank” (according to a document written in 1400). The castle was located on the high holm strengthened with logs, on marshy backwaters of the Czarna River. Originally, just an oval stone wall with an entrance probably on the south side was erected. Soon, in the southern part of the courtyard a four-storey, four-sided stone tower with a wooden loft for residential and defence purposes was built while the rest of the paved courtyard was probably filled with some wooden structures. Moreover, this fortified castle was undoubtedly accompanied by a hamlet situated on its southern side. All this took place in the lifetime of a prominent representative of the family, Mikołaj of Michałowo called ‘Białucha’, the Starost and Castellan of Krakow, and a son Krzeslaw of Chodowo (who in turn was a Dobiesław’s son).
   In the 15th century, under the successive generations of Poraits coming Lesser Poland, wooden structures inside the castle were replaced by stone-made cone and the level of the courtyard was raised up. Those, as well as every other reconstruction at that time reflected a desire of the landlords to adjust the castle to the main architectural style of their time (though those adjustments were often significantly delayed).
    The castle’s extension, responding to growing residential, representative and defense system requirements, began by constructing the Eastern Building with a single row of rooms. Subsequently, the Northern Building was built and finally the Western Building was added (by the end of the 15th century). Each of them took probably a form of residential towers equipped with embrasures.
   At the turn of the 16th century, the last of the Kurozwęckis, Mikołaj Lubelczyk and his son, Hieronim, the Treasurer of the Crown who died before the year 1520, made another effort to extend the castle. The remnants of wooden buildings were removed and the second part of the Northern Building was raised.



   More substantial architectural alteration are most probably came with the new owners of the estate, the Lanckorońskis. About 1521 one of the two daughters of Hieronim Kurozwęcki, Anna, married Jan Lanckoroński, the Master of Royal Hunt of Sandomierz, and brought Kurozwęki in her dowry .
   The aim of the construction work carried out in the second quarter of the 16th century was to put in order the courtyard  buildings and the main driveway. After the demolition of the north-western section of the 16th century curtain wall, a three-storey corner building was erected, called "the hen’s leg" with elegant residential interior. On the southern side, in front of the oldest gate of the castle, a quadrangular front gate tower was added, backed by two diagonal buttresses, with a stone portal.
   At the beginning of the 17th century the castle’s chapel, existing at least since the end of the 15th century when Piotr Kurozwęcki (called Lubelczyk) had brought canons regular there was renovated. The person who probably initiated by Zbigniew Lanckoroński, the Chamberlain of Sandomierz and the heir of Kurozwęki since 1591. According to Jesuit Gaspar Niesiecki Zbigniew reconciled with the Catholic Church after a breach made by his father Krzysztof, the seignior of the Calvinist Church in Lesser Poland.
   Subsequent transformations, made all through the 17th century, led to merging two heterogeneous buildings of the  castle in two elegant residential palatial wings, eastern and western. The merger lasted very long and was finally completed at the turn of the 18th century by constructing two-storey arcaded galleries on the southern, western and northern side of the courtyard. At the same time, the level of the courtyard was significantly raised, the interior level was standardized and a double staircase was built in the south east corner of the cloister.
   Raising the level of the court made the existing basement become a cellar and the late-medieval top floor was since then a baroque piano nubile with rooms en suite. Probably also at that time the entrance in the East Wing, known as the Black Gate, was built for household purposes.



   The Lanckoroński Family remained the owners of the castle until 1747 and they managed to have one more modernization done. On 22 April 1745 and then on 22 June 1746 Stanisław Lanckoroński signed two contracts with a masonry master from Wiśnicz, Alexander Fałkowski (or Fiałkowski) for an interior and exterior renovation of the castle (without changing anything in the general structure of the edifice). In the course of this work, windows were changed in the upper and lower chambers, two cellars were vaulted, chimneys were lined with brickwork and placed on the roof.
   After the childless death of Stanisław Lanckoroński in 1747, the widow Anna Dembińska née Janowska married Maciej  Sołtyk in 1752, a general of the Polish Army, then a castellan and since 1774 the Province Governor (voivode) of Sandomierz. He completed the renovation and little later, in the years 1768-1772, he undertook quite a thorough transition of a defensive castle to a classical baroque mansion.
   The main task was the extension of the gate tower in a monumental palatial wing with a stately ballroom hall on the first floor, decorated with an ornamental polychrome, accentuating different architectural styles with beautifully painted scenes of landscape. The beautiful and spacious ballroom was even once a witness of a ball held in honour of King Stanislaw August Poniatowski who stayed at the castle. The event is described by Adam Naruszewicz in  his diaries. He writes that the bal was preceded by a dinner in the Great Hall, decorated with portraits of the Sołtyks.
   Another task was the renovation of apartments on the first floor of the West and North Wings, as well as of the dining  room, Red and Green Parlours, and the library together with an adjacent room. The demolition of the South Gate made the reconstruction of the Black Gate and the entire East Wing necessary. The old chapel situated over the gate was renovated and decorated with a polychrome presenting a scene of the Transfiguration and the landlords’ patrons, Saint Matthias and Saint Anne. Probably in the 1770s two pavilions were built, which is confirmed by written sources from 1784 and 1785. A transformed shape of the castle was standardized by a saddle mansard roof.
   The third wife of Maciej Sołtyk, Kunegunda née Koszowska bequeathed Kurozwęki to her brother-in-law, Tomasz Sołtyk, the Castellan of Zawichost. The estate was then inherited by his only son, Antoni Tomasz, born in 1777 and married to Anastasia descending from the Rudnicki Family.
   In troubled and destructive years of the turn of the century the castle suffered a lot. When in 1811 Antoni Tomasz settled down there again he found the castle desolate and plundered to such an extent that his wife managed to rescue just two out of numerous damasks which adorned previously five parlours.



   Anastasia Sołtyk, after having spent several years of her youth in the Palace of Puławy, acquired a taste for beautiful objects and well-kept gardens. It is no wonder then that soon  she and her husband brought Jan Zulauf, a Czech artist and gardener. He restored the castle’s park so impressively that Klementyna Hoffman née Tański admired in 1828 its  “cooperation of  nature and art”. The garden had among other things an aviary full of rare species and an orangery arranged in the West Pavilion. The landscape park of Kurozwęki was also praised for the number of water reservoirs and lawns and the selection of trees which delighted arriving guests.
   Around 1831, not a long time before his death, Antoni Sołtyk ordered to build in the south-west corner of the castle a triangular view terrace on high semicircular arcades.
   Sołtyk’s daughter Emilia, married in 1833 Paweł Popiel (“Sulima” coat of arms) and brought Kurozweki in her dowry. The Popiels settled down in there after a fire had ravaged the family estate of the Popiel Family in Ruszcza near Krakow.
   Paweł decided to rebuild thoroughly the interior without changing substantially the exterior form of the castle. First of all, he had the high hall ballroom shared into several smaller rooms. He ordered to build a woodwork structure in the arcades of the galleries in order to connect them by a glazed corridor. He also had new ceilings installed in the galleries; some of them were covered with ornamental paintings. A new sandstone main portal was probably built too at that time. Finally, the cellars had been cleared of rubble, Paweł Popiel decided to build there “Gothic" arches.
   Paweł Popiel, an outstanding representative of the Galician Conservatives, a publicist and the co-founder of the magazine “Czas”, handed over the estate of Kurozwęki to his son Marcin.
    The last and rather small architectural modification of the castle took place in 1918. It was designed by Franciszek Mączyński, an architect from Krakow and it aim was to modernize interior communication (mostly in the northern avant-corps called Popielówka) as well as the heating and water-sewerage systems.
   In 1944, Marcin Popiel was deprived of his family estate. After years of devastation, in the early 1970s the castle started to be protected by the state as a valuable historical monument.
   In 1991, the castle and the park returned to the heirs of the last landlord and they made an effort to restore its former glory.

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