Rococo and oaks
Following years of renovation work, the 18th-century palace at Rogalin near Poznan is now admitting visitors again. Its artistic value and picturesque setting in the Warta River valley make it one of Poland’s finest palace complexes situated in a scenic park.
Using pre-WW2 documents, conservators have meticulously restored one of Poland’s most beautiful baroque and classical-era residences to its former glory. Built in 1770-76 based on a design by an unknown architect, the gem of Rogalin was home to the aristocratic Raczyński family. At the heart of the building is a two-wing baroque palace with rococo decorations and classical interiors, designed by the outstanding architects of the time: Domenico Merlini and Johann Christian Kammsetzer. Adjoining facilities include a stable, a carriage house, a woodshed, and former living quarters for land labourers. The backyard is occupied by a rococo garden with a viewing hill.
Subsequent generations of the family added a Roman temple inspired mausoleum that features a family crypt and a landscape garden. With its picturesque setting in the Warta River valley, a spatial plan accommodating natural landscape, and artistic value, the residence at Rogalin is one of Poland’s finest park-engulfed palace complexes.
What makes this place special in Polish culture is also the tradition of cultural patronage, cultivated by all generations of the Raczyński family. Their greatest achievements include the first ever public library in the region of Wielkopolska (the Poznan-based Raczyński Library that is still in operation today), the Polish Kings’ Chapel at Poznan Cathedral, and a palace gallery of paintings that can be viewed by the public. Edward Raczyński, the last male descendant of the Rogalin line and Poland’s president-in-exile from 1979 to 1986, established the Raczyński Foundation alongside the National Museum in Poznan. Raczyński bestowed the foundation with his family’s art collections as well as ownership rights to the residence.
Today this architectural treasure can be seen in its new splendour. Refurbishment work was carried out in several stages, covering both the interior and exterior of the palace, including 17 ovens, over 200 items of furniture, more than 30 lamps and candlesticks, textiles, paintings, frames, clocks and stained glass windows. The overhaul also revamped the stable, the courtyard surface, park alleys, travelling trunks, a three-arch bridge and the carriage house which contains an impressive collection of horse-drawn vehicles.
Especially notable among the palace interiors are a neorococo library featuring a black marble fireplace and cabinets inlaid with golden oak wood, as well as an armoury with a collection of militaria. It also includes a meticulously re-created London office of President Edward Raczyński with original ornaments, including an address book containing a hand-written phone number of Winston Churchill.
Put together over many decades, the Raczyński family was the proud owner of an impressive collection of Polish and European paintings from the turn of the 19th century. Destroyed and depleted during WW2, today the collection consists of around 250 pieces and includes works by some of Poland’s most eminent artists, such as Jacek Malczewski, Aleksander Gierymski, Olga Boznańska, Leon Wyczółkowski and Józef Mehoffer.
Oaks of Rogalin
The region of Rogalin is famous for its old common oaks. Over 1,435 specimens, some measuring two metres in diameter, were identified in 1992 and many of them have become natural monuments. The residence’s landscape park is home to the best known oak trees: Lech, Czech and Rus, named after the legendary brothers who are believed to have started three Slavic countries. The trees are estimated to be over 700 years old, and the biggest one – Rus – measures more than nine metres in diameter.