Castles in Poland

Leading Editor:
Marek Wasilewski

Castles in Poland

Marek Wasilewski

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Section: Castles in Poland

Abstract:

The phenomenon of the construction of “new” castles, inspired by their medieval predecessors, is characteristic not only of Poland nor is it new. The first attempts at this kind of architecture were made in 18th-century England. In modern-day Poland, the point of renovating buildings that exist only as ruins is widely discussed. In Bolesław Szmygin’s opinion, the current interest of private investors in castles has two sources: firstly, the ruins are something like “open forms”, ready to be filled with any vision of a historic building. Secondly, the decision to rebuild such historically and socially relevant spaces, as most castles were, automatically puts the investor in the position of a modern Lord of the Castle. But in Alain de Botton’s opinion, the dark side of this kind of action may be the slow death of modernist architecture, which is being ignored in terms of its development potential.

Section: Castles in Poland

Abstract:

The author ponders the historical and cultural causes of the current Polish trend for restoring and building quasi-historical castles. Is it the result of an affection for medieval traditions or rather of a sense of danger arising from the challenges presented by the contemporary world? Should this trend be considered to have been inspired by religion, since it employs feudal symbolism, that of the knight and royalty, or is it merely a symptom of bad taste and aesthetic backwardness?

Section: Castles in Poland

Abstract:

An analysis of the space of the castle as exemplified in the novel. The Gothic novel genre, characterised by Bram Stokes’s Dracula, made the space of the castle fundamental to the atmosphere of terror, owing to its mysterious, labyrinthine topography. It was the Gothic novel that continued the legend of the castle space, once the domain of fairy-tales and fables. Franz Kafka allegorized the space of the castle. In his work, the castle is not only a setting, but above all a metaphor for existential solitude. Witold Gombrowicz, on the other hand, experimented with the Gothic novel, with the aim of doing justice to the unjustly marginalized art of Inferiority. With this intention, he wrote Possessed.

Section: Castles in Poland

Abstract:

Architecture always reflects the times, but through architecture a relation to heritage is also established. The building of castles has always been an example of a wider trend demonstrating itself in the return to historical forms of style and the employment of traditional materials and solutions. Along with technology and changes in war doctrine, the decline of the castle as a fortified feudal residence was inevitable. It was not until the mid-19th century that attempts were made to restore deserted castles. Modern architectural forms like the castle, but also the palace and court, conveniently allow one to manifest one’s attachment to tradition. In this paper, the contemporary phenomenon of architecture that refers to historic castle forms in both public buildings as well as private houses – so-called ‘gargamels’ – is analyzed.

Section: Castles in Poland

Abstract:

One might think that the 1953 Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, originally known as the Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science, and the 1910 Imperial Castle in Poznań have nothing in common. For citizens, these equally disliked buildings were symbols of foreign domination, and they therefore wanted them destroyed. Finally, both became the subject of urban legends and merged into the city landscape. Today we might see these two buildings as phantasmagoria erected with great effort.

Section: Castles in Poland

Abstract:

The difficult history of the architecture of Poznan’s castle finds no comprehension in the latest renovation project. The body responsible for choosing Witold Milewski’s project, The Royal Castle Reconstruction Committee, tried to defend its decision by pointing to broad social support for the investment and the need for a new big tourist attraction, which in their opinion, Poznan requires. Lack of public discussion about the form the building would take and the committee’s aversion to differing opinions have been widely commented on in the media. Two interesting modern projects stand in contrast to Milewski’s historic vision: Jaroslaw Kozakiewicz’s Punctum (2007) and Forum Wirtua (2009) by architecture student Maciej Armanowski. Sadly, it was already too late for them to lead to anything more than discussion among a small group of art historians and architecture lovers.