THE VALLEY OF PALACES AND GARDENS
Lower Silesia, Poland
The architectural and landscape complex known as the Valley of Palaces and Gardens is located in the Western Sudetes. Its distinctive feature is the combination of a great cultural legacy with a varied mountain landscape. Here one can find various types of knightly and noble residences, from medieval residential towers, castles, Renaissance mansions, baroque palaces, to 19th-century palace and park complexes. Here, the most prominent European families established their residences: Habsburgs, Hohenzollerns, Schaffgotschs, Czartoryskis, Radziwiłłs, Hessian and Oranean princes.
The border location of the case study area and the entire Lower Silesia region influenced the changes in its nationality. Over the last thousand years, it has been part of Great Moravia, the Kingdom of Poland, the Kingdom of Bohemia, the Habsburg monarchy, the Kingdom of Prussia, Germany and Poland. The testimony to this is the multicultural heritage of the entire region. It was it, combined with the wonderful assets of the natural environment and landscape values, that influenced the development of tourism in the 19th century.
The period of successful tourism development was interrupted in 1945, when the Sudetes and Lower Silesia became part of Poland. Residents had to leave these areas, with migrants from other regions of pre-war Poland taking their place. However, politics and ideology proved to be a much more serious threat to the centuries-old Polish, Czech, Austrian and Prussian legacy left behind. Monuments that were foreign both culturally and ideologically had survived the war, but were deprived of proper maintenance and care for the following decades. This resulted in the decapitalization of tourist infrastructure and monuments. The changes brought about by the political breakthrough of the late 1980s resulted in the need to protect and revitalize the multicultural heritage of this subregion.
The entire Valley of Palaces and Gardens includes more than 30 historic buildings of residential architecture, of which 12 are located in the case study area, covering two rural communes (Mysłakowice and Janowice Wielkie). Some of these objects are still standing and deteriorating, waiting for a new owner-investor to restore them to their former glory. Others currently serve different functions: they are public buildings (e.g. the palace in Mysłakowice, which houses an elementary school), have social functions (e.g. the palace in Janowice Wielkie, which houses a nursing home), or simply residential (e.g. the manor house in Mniszków).
Some of these facilities have been renovated and adapted for tourist purposes (Wojanów, Karpniki, Bukowiec). Today, these wonderfully restored palace and park complexes house hotels and restaurants and are also a venue for various cultural events.
Most noteworthy is the palace complex in Łomnica, now owned by the descendants of the pre-war owners: the von Kuster family. After a comprehensive renovation and reconstruction of the facility, the family decided to make its interiors available for visiting by individual tourists and organized groups, pursuing its goal of preserving and promoting the local cultural heritage of the region, with particular emphasis on its historical values. The whole estate (the baroque Grand Palace, the 19th century Small Palace, and farm buildings) is surrounded by a picturesque landscape park, which was created in 1835 using the natural riverside terrain.
The complex in Łomnica has two restaurants, accommodation facilities of a varying standard (in both palaces and farm premises), and the exhibition "Three centuries of life in the Łomnica Castle". On the two floors of the palace and under the vaults of the basement there are 18 rooms thematically furnished with antique furniture, works of art, and objects of everyday use from different periods. You can explore various rooms of the palace, from the study of the famous flax merchant Christian Mentzel from the 18th century, to the elegant dining room of the ambassador Carl Gustav Ernst von Küster from the 19th century, to the historic kitchen from the Baroque period with its impressive furnishings. This true journey through time begins in 1720 and ends in the communist era in an authentic, original school classroom from the 1950s-60s when the palace housed an elementary school.
The historic Łomnica complex is also a place for organizing workshops referring to the intangible heritage of the region and many cultural events: music concerts, exhibitions, fairs, and harvest festivals.
Although the study area is famous for its mansion complexes, it is also the site of an unusual accumulation of historic buildings of other kinds. Unique features include a complex of buildings in Mysłakowice, the so-called Tyrolean colony, founded in 1838-39 by emigrants from the Zillertal Valley (Tyrol, Austria). In the landscape of each village, usually in their exposed centers, there are churches, formerly Evangelical and Catholic. Inns, preserved to this day with their original half-timbered construction, have been located along the main roads (Bukowiec, Gruszków, Wojanów). A unique object serving tourism is the wooden mountain hostel “Szwajcarka”, which was built in 1823 as part of the palace and park establishment in Karpniki.
Among the monuments of technology and industry noteworthy are the railroad bridges (including those in Janowice Wielkie), the Linen Factory „Orzeł” in Mysłakowice, and the old brewery in Miedzianka. The cultural landscape is complemented by reminders of history in the form of stone crosses (including in Bukowiec and Miedzianka) and monuments to those who died in World War I (including in Łomnica and Wojanów).
The rich cultural assets, combined with the values of the mountain landscape, provide ample opportunities for the development of cultural tourism and leisure in the case study area.
Good practice: Museum: “Three Centuries of Life in the Łomnica Castle”
The authors of the photos and text are:
Malgorzata Pstrocka-Rak, Anna Grochowska, Sylwia Dolzbłasz