"Versailles of Podlasie" - Branicki Palace in Białystok
Branicki Palace in Białystok is one of the most appealing historic buildings in Podlasie land and one of the best-preserved aristocratic residences from Saxon times in Poland. Palace complex in Białystok is also one of the most beautiful baroque mansions in East Europe. The design of the residence refers to Baroque palaces of French kings and led to naming the Bialystok palace the "Polish Versailles", or “Versailles of Podlasie”.
The palace was designed and built between 1743 and 1750 by Jan Zygmunt Deybel for Count Jan Klemens Branicki, Great Crown Hetman and patron of art and science, raised in the French milieu of the Polish aristocracy. Branicki was one of the wealthiest Polish magnates in the 17th century. It was an owner of 12 towns, 257 villages and 17 palaces (including the palace in Choroszcz, see: Palace in Choroszcz - summer residence of hetman Branicki). The form of the palace in Białystok reflects hetman’s royal ambitions. In 1763–1764 he ran in the election of the King of Poland but was beaten by his brother-in-law Stanisław Poniatowski.
The late Baroque style of the Branicki Palace is evident: two large wings are at right angles to the body of the main building and a large courtyard and portico columns adorn the palace from the side facing Podwale Street. The roofline is an Italianate balustrade that masks a low attic story, and the heroic sculptural group of Atlas crowning all. Visitors enter the palace complex through the entrance gate named “Griffin” (coming from Branicki coat of arms). Beautiful sculptures by Jan Chryzostom Redler were placed on the Podwale Street side in 1750.
Between 1771-1804 the palace was an important centre of the cultural life of Poland, thanks to receptions and events held by Princess Izabella Branicka. In September 1939, the building was burned by the German occupiers, and then completely destroyed. After the Word War II, it was reconstructed based on designs by Borys von Zinserling, and it then became a state building, housing different offices. The heritage of Jan Klemens Branicki is continued currently by the Medical University of Bialystok, which is the owner of the residence since 1950.
Branicki Palace is surrounded by the best-preserved Baroque park in Poland. French garden is made of labyrinths, fountains and boxwood hedges. Its main avenue leads through a bridge over the water container which used to be an element of the former castle bastion. In the neighbourhood of the French park, there is another one kept in the English style. Other outbuildings include the Arsenal (1755), Orangery and Italian and Tuscan Pavilions.
See other beautiful places in the Podlasie region:
- "Versailles of Podlasie" - Branicki Palace in Białystok
- Palace in Choroszcz- Summer residence of hetman Branicki
- Supraśl - the pearl of Podlasie region
- Supraśl Lavra - important site of Orthodox culture in Poland
- Kruszyniany - Tatar village where Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox live together
- Pentowo - European Stork Village
- "The Great Synagogue" in Tykocin, Poland