Wojanów-Bobrów palace

According to guides and unconfirmed information, there was a castle in Bobrów around the year 1450 – the “Boberstein” watchtower. It’s job was to guard the crossing of the Bóbr river. Other sources inform that it was burnt down by Hussites around the year 1428.

Its exact location remains unknown, and no archaeological work has been carried out which could confirm the information about a castle having stood there. The current palace was erected on the ruins of a Renaissance manor.


Towards the end of the 15th century the estate’s owner was Anton Schoff, and it was inherited by his son Wolfgang following his death. From either 1598 or 1607 the property’s steward was Nickel von Zedlitz. This was probably when the Renaissance manor was erected at the spot where today’s palace stands. The former residence’s walls can still be seen in the structure of the palace itself, built of stone on a rectangular plan, its shorter side facing the river Bóbr.
Following the Thirty Years’ War, when the castle was ruined, it was rebuilt around the middle of the 17th century. Carl Christoph von Zedlitz sold the castle off to Anna von Nostitz in 1662. The castle’s successive owners were Jesuits, who acquired the property most probably for debts. According to notes from 1737 to 1776 the owners were the Schaffgotsch family. In 1776 Bobrów was sold off in auction for 10,000 thalers to the Jelenia Góra merchant Daniel von Bachus, who at the time possessed the estates of Wojanów and Dąbrowice. In 1825 Karol Sigimund von Rothkirch became the property’s owner, and he was followed by Ernestyna von Kockwitz who bought it in 1836 for 24,460 thalers (other sources give this as the maiden name of Lady von Rothkirch).
Round about 1894 the palace underwent a general conversion according to plans drawn up by the Berlin architect Paul Roetger. The owner at the time was Hans Rudolf von Decker.
The palace remained in the hands of the Decker family until 1921. In 1934 the property was taken over once again by the Rothkirch family, who sold it to Sierstorpff von Franken. He in turn sold it to the government of the Third Reich, when it served as a SA training centre.

After 1945 the palace was occupied by the Soviet Army. It served in turn as a centre for political refugees from Greece, a kidnappers’ house, a summer camp centre, a PGR (state-run collective farm), SKR (farming cooperative), and offices for an insurance inspectorate from Jelenia Góra which used the outbuildings. From the late 60s the palace and its outbuildings remained unused and no repairs were carried out, and it began falling into ruin. Dismantling of the roof in the years 1972-1973 caused severe damage to the palace. Only in 1994 was the entire complex purchased by the Polish-German Association for the Promotion, Reconstruction and Maintenance of Historical Buildings, Culture and Silesian Traditions, founded by Gunther Artmann. This association established a hotel for youth groups from both countries in the palace’s outbuildings.
Despite the destruction, the palace remains a very picturesque building situated on a bend in the Bóbr river, above its left bank.



From the west the palace grounds are surrounded by a stone wall, reinforcing the river bank, with an entry gate and preceded by a long approach avenue.
 
The entrance gate is built into the wall, which is faced in stone. Sculptures of lions, holding shields bearing coats of arms, stand at the sides of the gate.
Architecture
The building has three storeys and a five-bay front façade. The tower in the middle of the palace is four-sided and features round corner turrets; it also has numerous add-ons. The western elevation is a two-storey three-bay avant-corps, with a two-sided protruding central bay topped with a cupola. This triangular bay faces the entry gate, and its third storey is in the form of a tempietto and constitutes a certain kind of continuation of the tower dominating over the building.
The palace is irregular in plan, its external walls forming a trapezoid. The first floor, on the side facing the river, features a large viewing terrace, while there is a smaller terrace to the south situated above a single-storey extension. On its eastern side the palace has a two-storey avant-corps housing the main staircase as well as service stairs.
The architecture is similar to forms characteristic of the French Renaissance, enriched with Netherlandic ornamentation. Facing of the elevation in red brick, highlighting of the building’s corners in white, as well as the detail hammered into the sandstone or formed in the plaster is typical of the French Renaissance. The detail is in the form of northern, Netherlandic Renaissance – less popular than the Italian or French which dominated in the 19th century. The palace has numerous turrets, bay windows and gables.
Worthy of attention inside is the large hall, its ceiling supported by a monolithic column, and the staircase. Both the hall and staircase still boast murals resembling the decoration that used to be inspired by Karl Botticher’s popular publication.
The rooms on the first floor, in the south-eastern wing, feature stone barrel vaulting characteristic of 16th-century buildings. In June 1999 one could see fragments of old polychromes, probably from the 17th century with their distinctive ornamental lines, in the barrel-vaulted hall. There are also probably polychrome traces beneath the layers of plaster.


The cellars beneath the north and east sections of the palace, which were probably entirely walled up in the 19th century, have survived in good condition. There could also well be cellars as yet undiscovered beneath the southern section. The entrance hall boasts a four-span vault supported on a column and pillars, plus terracotta tiles with interesting ornamentation. The staircases still contain their stairs.
The nearby church is believed by some to have been the palace church. Two towers – that of the palace and church – dominate the landscape. This has ideological sense, expressing two governing powers over this land, and their collaboration in secular and church power. There are a number of 16th and 17th-century gravestones next to and inside the church which commemorate the palace’s former owners.
The palace complex also includes a two-storey building initially used for agricultural purposes.
Literature:
1. Kapałczyński W., Napierała P. „Zamki, pałace i dwory Kotliny Jeleniogórskiej”. Fundacja Doliny Pałaców i Ogrodów Kotliny Jeleniogórskiej. Wrocław 2005.
2. "Słownik geografii turystycznej Sudetów. Rudawy Janowickie.". Red. M. Staffa. Wyd. I-BIS. Wrocław 1998
3. Smoliński M. "Pałac w Bobrowie". http://www.dziedzictwo.pl
 

Translation Jonathan Weber