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    Rydzyna Castle, in western Poland, is now used as a hotel, and is ideal for conferences and holidays, or just for a romantic week-end. It is one of the largest ducal palaces in Poland, a magnificent example of 17th. Century Baroque architecture, surrounded by a moat, with an adjacent 34ha park.

    The present building is on the site of a castle that was built in Rydzyna at the beginning of the 15th. century by Jan of Czernina (whose tombstone can be seen in the parish church). At the end of the 17th.C the Leszczynski family acquired it and hired the Italian architects Bellotti and Ferrari to erect the present Baroque castle on the ancient foundations. Prince Stanislaw Leszczynski was king of Poland from 1704 to 1709. He was forced to abdicate and exiled to France. There he became Duke of Lorraine and built a beautiful palace in Nancy. His daughter Maria became queen of France and mother of King Louis XVI.,
   old pla Stanisław Leszczynski sold his estates in Poland to Aleksander Joseph Sułkowski. The new owner improved the castle. The Silesian architect Karl Martin Frantz changed roofs, added Rococo decorations and the monumental main gate. He also rebuilt the parish church and the town. The son of Aleksander Joseph, Prince August, continued the expansion. Classical ornamentation was added to the the Ballroom. The outbuildings and Orangerie were added to the north of the palace, which complemented the palace in style, enclosing the space in front of the castle and served the purpose of accommodating utilitarian functions, such as stables. The park was extended in the French style. At the end of 18th. century the residence of the Sułkowski princes was the most important cultural and educational centre in western Poland. A theater was opened in the Orangerie. Prince August was also very concerned with education. He brought the Piarist Fathers to Rydzyna and created a school for the children of impoverished gentry in new buildings on the street leading from the castle to the town square. One of those buildings still exists today.

    After the second partition of Poland in 1793, architectural development in Rydzyna ceased. The most famous person from the Sułkowski family was the very brave and talented Joseph Sułkowski, the aide-de-camp of Napoleon. The name of his cousin Anthony Paul - the fourth Sułkowski owner of Rydzyna - is inscribed on the Arch de Triomphe in Paris.
    The last Prince Sułkowski died childless in 1909. The Castle was then taken over by Prussian authorities. In 1919 the Versailles Treaty gave it back to Poland.

    In accordance with the statutes of the Sulkowski family that had been established by Prince August in 1775 with the approval of the Polish Parliament, the Educational Foundation of the Sulkowski family was restored in 1924. In 1928 the boarding - school for boys, the Sulkowski School was established under the direction of professor Tadeusz Łopuszanski, who had very interesting new ideas about education.
    During the German occupation, 1939-1945, a "Hitlerjugend" school was placed in the castle. At the end of January 1945 the Castle in Rydzyna was burnt down by Soviet troops. The severely damaged Castle awaited a new owner until 1970. In that year it was taken over by The Association of Polish Mechanical Engineers (S.I.M.P.). Rydzyna castle today The Castle was rebuilt according to documents and photographs from before World War II. The work was completed in 1989, and in 1994 the castle received an award from the prestigious international organization EUROPA NOSTRA in recognition of the excellence of the restoration work.
    The main Baroque rooms on the third floor (American second floor) were completely restored to their original grandeur. It is in these rooms that conferences are held by international organizations, using modern audio-visual equipment. In the castle collections there are: old furniture, historical drawings, remembrances of the Sułkowski family, nature collections e.g.: tropical butterflies, hunting trophies. In the library you can find the documentation connected with the previous owners of the Castle, The Sulkowski Grammar School and The Association of Polish Mechanical Engineers.

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Last update May 2005