Gorzanów Castle

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Grafenort Castle
Zamek Gorzanów.jpg
Grafenort Castle
as seen in 2012
Location Gorzanów, Poland
Coordinates 50°21′3.33″N 16°37′59.65″E / 50.3509250°N 16.6332361°E / 50.3509250; 16.6332361Coordinates: 50°21′3.33″N 16°37′59.65″E / 50.3509250°N 16.6332361°E / 50.3509250; 16.6332361
Area Kłodzko LandLower Silesia
Built 1573
Demolished Second World War and Post-war period (serious damage, including partial but not total demolition of parts of palace complex)
  • 1653–1657
  • 1737
Architectural style(s) High Renaissance
Governing body Privately owned
Gorzanów Castle is located in Poland
Gorzanów Castle
Location of Grafenort Castle in Poland
Current state of the Castle's brewery (2012)

Grafenort Castle (Ger., Schloß Grafenort (or Schloss Grafenort); Pol., Pałac Gorzanów[1]) is a (former) stately residence in the Kłodzko Land of the Lower Silesia. A sixteenth-century German foundation, it has been in the hands of the von Herberstein family of Grafs or Counts (the Grafen von Herberstein) since the second half of the seventeenth century until 1930 — hence its name, and one of the former names of the village in which it is situated.


The village of the Castle's location was called Arnoldsdorf between at least 1341 (the earliest extant record) and 1670.[2] For the next 275 years between 1670 and 1945 the village's name was Grafenort ("the Seat of the Counts", with reference to the von Herberstein family). In 1945, after the accession of Lower Silesia to Poland, the locality was renamed Gorzanów by the Polish authorities.

The Castle, situated at an elevation of c.329 m (1,080 ft) above sea level and comprising over 100 interior chambers within its structure, is surrounded by 6.6 hectares (16.3 acres) of parkland (palace gardens) that once were one its greatest glories (see historical lithographs below), the views extending from some vantage points being described as having a mesmeric effect on the viewer.[3]

The Castle has historical associations with Cardinal Ernst Adalbert von Harrach (1598–1667), the bishop of Trent, who in his Italian diaries for 1663–1664 refers to Grafenort alternately as Arnsdorff, Arnßdorff, or Arnßdorf,[4] and the composer Ignaz Reimann (1820–1885; buried at the nearby Krosnowice).[5] The poet and actor Karl von Holtei (1798–1880) who began his career as an actor at Grafenort Castle mentions it repeatedly in his pleasantly amusing, light-hearted biography, Vierzig Jahre ("Forty Years").[6] He says he spent thirty years of his life in the Castle; on a return visit he muses about the rooms

in which I dwelt, made love, watched people die, cohabited with the survivors, poetized, quarrelled with the Count, written plays, learned roles, managed the theatre, made plans for the future, and God knows what else?[7]

The foreword in his 1840 play Shakspear in der Heimath is dated July 1839 at "Schloß Grafenort".[8] In another of his works Holtei speaks of Schloß Grafenort as the ancient edifice that is the oasis of hospitality whose "brightly coloured gabled halls look up towards the Silesian Schneeberg" (the mountain is about 22 km away).[9] His 333-page edition of twelve letters written "from and to Grafenort" between July 1839 and May 1840 (Briefe aus und nach Grafenort, published in 1841) are a treasure trove of information on the Castle.[10]

The Polish scholar Filip Sulimierski (1843–1885), editor of the monumental Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego (1881), describes the property as "the beautiful castle of the Herberstein counts" in which theatrical performances were given three times a week for eight months of the year (see Bibliography). Apart from pieces of mainstream dramatic literature, the Castle's theatre staged ("with great pomp", according to contemporary accounts) a special genre of "Jesuit dramas" under the patronage of the Grafen von Herberstein.[11]

A large number of photographs of the Castle's exterior and interior, and its outlying structures, including details of the Castle's unique architectural features (such as its sgraffiti-clad windows), are published in Richard Konwiarz's book Alt-Schlesien (1913).[12] The book speaks of the Castle's front staircase leading to the garden as the historically significant architectural element, and the gardens themselves with their intricate layout as ranking on the same level of importance.[13] A photograph of the theatre's interior, including the stage and the seating area, was published in the monthly periodical Schlesische Monatshefte: Blätter für Kultur und Schrifttum der Heimat of March 1933.[14]

The numerous pictorial representations of Grafenort Palace include works of Friedrich Bernhard Werner (1690–1776) and Josef Schall (1785–1867).[15]

Nazi period[edit]

From 1930 the palace complex was the property of the town of Habelschwerdt (renamed Bystrzyca Kłodzka after 1945), and as public property it lent itself easily to Nazi use. During the Second World War, while the region of Lower Silesia was German territory, Grafenort Castle was the site of the notorious Grafenort concentration camp, a place of oppression of Jewish women deported here from Poland, a war crime under the Geneva Convention.

Post-war period[edit]

In 1945 the region of Lower Silesia became part of Poland. The years that followed marked the period of continuing degradation of Grafenort Castle began already during the Nazi rule. Polish press reports and notices in tourist guidebooks spoke of a shocking state of disrepair of a property that was considered unfit to be visited by sightseers, its decline from lack of maintenance hastened by depredations of masonry robbers and other types of active vandalism.[16] Anything that could be carried was stolen.[17]

After 57 years of neglect and such continuous pillage and plunder as the property was subjected to since the beginning of the Second World War, the ownership of the Castle was acquired in 1996 by an Austrian national who — despite promises of restoration of the Castle to its former glory — did nothing during the ensuing 14 years to rehabilitate the property or even just to stem the ongoing decay.[17] In this way the period of decline was extended from 57 years to 71 years. Then, in October 2010, the Castle was purchased by yet another investor, said to belong to old Polish nobility, a development which again raised the hopes of the local population (including the mayor of the neighbouring Bystrzyca Kłodzka, the administrative seat of the gmina) that the Castle might be rescued from irreversible collapse.[17] Instead of fulfilment of these hopes, however, there are signs of plans to turn the property into a commercial enterprise servicing the hospitality industry as a wedding hall.[17][18] The latest reports (including those of the conservation group Zabytki Śląska) suggest the continuing neglect of the property while the new owner searches for a "business partner".[19][20][21] Grafenort Castle is included in the 2009 book Silesia: The Land of Dying Country Houses published by the conservation group SAVE Europe's Heritage in London (see Bibliography).


See also[edit]


  1. ^ There is no customary, official, or consistent Polish name: one encounters such designations as Pałac Gorzanów (used by the current owner, hence highlighted here), zamek w Gorzanowie, pałac w Gorzanowie, etc.
  2. ^ Helmut Sieber, Burgen und Schlösser in Schlesien: Nach alten Stichen (vol. 2 of Schlösser und Herrensitze in Schlesien), Frankfurt a.M., Weidlich, 1962, p. 40.
  3. ^ Richard Konwiarz, comp. & ed., Alt-Schlesien: Architektur, Raumkunst, Kunstgewerbe, Stuttgart, Verlag von Julius Hoffmann, 1913, p. xxii.
  4. ^ Ernst Adalbert von Harrach, Die Diarien und Tagzettel des Kardinals Ernst Adalbert von Harrach (1598–1667), ed. K. Keller & A. Catalano, Vienna, Böhlau, 2010, passim. ISBN 9783205784616.
  5. ^ Siegmund Pchalek, Ignaz Reimann (1820–1885): Leben und Werk, Sankt Augustin, J. Butz Musikverlag, 2008, pp. 21, 42. ISBN 9783928412070, ISBN 3928412078.
  6. ^ Cf. Karl von Holtei, Eine Biographie, Prague, Expedition des Albums, 1856, pp. 16, 27, 44, 48, 63, 76.
  7. ^ Karl von Holtei, Vierzig Jahre, vol. 8, Berlin, W. Adolf & Comp., 1850, p. 78.
  8. ^ Karl von Holtei, Shakspear in der Heimath, oder: Die Freunde, Schleusingen, Verlag von Conrad Glaser, 1840, p. xiii.
  9. ^ Karl von Holtei, Der Obernigker Bote: Gesammelte Aufsätze und Erzählungen in drei Bänden, vol. 1, Breslau, Verlag von Trewendt & Granier, 1854, p. 2.
  10. ^ Karl von Holtei, Briefe aus und nach Grafenort, Altona, Verlag von J. F. Hammerich, 1841.
  11. ^ Hermann Franke, "Staatliches katholisches Gymnasium", Schlesische Monatshefte: Blätter für Kultur und Schrifttum der Heimat, vol. 10, No. 7, July 1933, p. 251.
  12. ^ Richard Konwiarz, comp. & ed., Alt-Schlesien: Architektur, Raumkunst, Kunstgewerbe, Stuttgart, Verlag von Julius Hoffmann, 1913, pp. 68, 78, 159, 181–184, 222.
  13. ^ Richard Konwiarz, comp. & ed., Alt-Schlesien: Architektur, Raumkunst, Kunstgewerbe, Stuttgart, Verlag von Julius Hoffmann, 1913, p. xx.
  14. ^ Schlesische Monatshefte: Blätter für Kultur und Schrifttum der Heimat, vol. 10, No. 3, March 1933, p. 76.
  15. ^ Catalogue of the exhibition "Schlesisches Biedermeier" held in Breslau in April–May 1930, Schlesische Monatshefte: Blätter für Kultur und Schrifttum der Heimat, vol. 7, No. 4, April 1930, p. 145.
  16. ^ Waldemar Brygier, Tomasz Dudziak, et al., Ziemia Kłodzka: przewodnik dla prawdziwego turysty, Piastów, Oficyna Wydawnicza Rewasz, 2010, p. 219. ISBN 9788389188953.
  17. ^ a b c d Natalia Wellmann, "Hrabia kupił i odnowi pałac w Gorzanowie" (Grafenort Castle Bought by a Count who Promises Restoration of the Property).". Gazeta Wrocławska (Wrocław, Poland). October 15, 2010. Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Advertisement for Grafenort Castle (sourced "by the owner") as a wedding hall for a party of 500 (with 50 hotel beds).". LokaleWeselne.com.pl (Grzegorz Wach White Step Marketing) of Wojkowice, Poland. Copyright date 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help) It is to be noted that, in the advertisement, the palace grounds are described as covering 4.4 hectares (10.8 acres) only.
  19. ^ "Gorzanów: Palace changes its owner. Grandiose proclamations of restoration of the property to life end in its being put up for sale once again. Deterioration continues." "Dolnośląskie zamki i pałace 2011" (Castles and Palaces of the Lower Silesia in 2011.". Zabytki Śląska (zabytkidolnegoslaska.com.pl). Copyright date 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  20. ^ "Rozpoczęła się agonia pałacu w Gorzanowie" (Grafenort Castle Enters Its Final Agony).". Zabytkislaska.esbo.pl. Published 2012. Retrieved October 11, 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  21. ^ "Oferty: Pałac Gorzanów, gmina Bystrzyca Kłodzka, woj. Dolnośląskie (Grafenort Castle For Sale).". Agencja Nieruchomości Historycznych Be Happy (Historic Properties Real-Estate Agency "Be Happy") of Katowice, Poland. Published 2012. Archived from the original on 2013-02-10. Retrieved October 11, 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

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