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The Tsar`s palace in Bialowieza

A couple of facts

This website is dedicated to the Tsars hunting lodge, which was located in the heart of Bialowieza Primeval Forest. If it had survived to our times, it would definitely be one of the most interesting architectural monuments of the Podlasie region of Poland. It was very different from the typical architecture of the region, mainly because of its exotic elements.

  • The main reason why the estate was located here in this primeval forest was the survival of bison -largest animal of Europe.
  • The building of the palace began in spring 1889 and was finished in summer 1894.
  • In 1894 an imperial hunt was organized to Tsar Alexander III. It was his first and last visit to the Bialowieza Estate as he died the same year.
  • Visits of Nicholas II and his family were organized in 1897, 1900, 1903, 1906, and 1912.
  • In 1897, the building of the railway to Bialowieza was finished.
  • In the same year, the building of the Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas the Miracle-Worker was finished.
  • WA 50- hectare park in the English style was created around the estate by Walerian Kronenberg (1859-1934) and was, in some opinions, the most outstanding work of the artist.
  • Architect: count Nicholas de Rochefort (1846-1905) (there are two ways of spelling his surname in Russian: Рoшфор or Рoшeфор), graduated from the best Russian architectural institutes: Николаевская инженерная академия (Nikolaevsky Engineering Academy of St. Petersburg) and Строительноe училищe (School of Architecture). The latter changed its name to Институт Гражданских Инженеров-ИГИ (Institute of Civil Engineering and Construction). This prominent theoretician and practitioner applied many modern solutions in the palace. The main artistic criteria were functionalism and durability. Despite playing an important role in Russian architecture, he is almost completely forgotten. History served him badly just as it did with his major architectural achievement.
  • The Tsars hunting lodge in Bialowieza is a typical example of hunting architecture, especially popular in the second half of 19th century. All the buildings of that type have two major features: a tower and a large hall with fireplace, serving as a meeting place after hunting.
  • Apartments were usually decorated rather modestly, to emphasize equality among members of the hunting team. Also those types of building were usually connected with a landscaped park and a zoo.
  • The architecture of the palace was eclectic. As a result, in a typical way there are Russian, Swiss, medieval and also renaissance motives gathered together. However, we ought to appreciate that this magnificent hunting lodge is not a copy of any kind and used to have many original individual features.
  • The artists were trying to find a form suitable to represent the function of the building. They had to combine severity and simplicity, typical of the nature of hunting with appropriate representation of the person who ordered the palace- the Tsar of Russia. Finding a new suitable, contemporary form for a new type of building was often a problem of the 19th century.
  • WThe interior decoration of the palace shows a lot of modern features. In 1905 it was written that this was one of the first signs of the New Style in Russia. Features of Art Nouveau appeared in Russian architecture for the first time.
  • During the first World War the palace was used mainly by the Germans.
  • Before the second World War a Forester Boarding School, a Catholic chapel and a Museum of the Primeval Forest were located there.
  • After 1930, the representative apartments of the President of Poland-Ignacy Moscicki were located there.
  • During the second World War the Soviets and the Germans were located in the palace.
  • In the summer of 1944, during the evacuation of German troops a shell hit the tall tower of the palace and caused a fire in the building.
  • Between 1961 and 1963 the ruins of the building were demolished.
  • Nowadays The Museum of Nature and Forestry of Bialowieza Primeval Forest is located there.

The palace, which only functioned for 50 years, is a very important part of the history of Bialowieza Primeval Forest. It was a continuation of the last period of imperial hunting and highly affected the development of the region. With its coming into existence the great period for Bialowieza started and this rarely accessible ground attracted not only the imperial family but artists, intellectuals and politicians as well.

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