The Warsaw Voice » Regional Voice » Monthly - March 31, 2011
Mazovia Region
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A Palace Inspired by Love
Starawieś, a village around 9 kilometers northwest of Węgrów, is located in the Liw district on a wide stretch of the Liwiec River. The site used to lie on a trade route that led from Łuków via Węgrów to Gdańsk on the Baltic coast.

Starawieś used to be known under different names in the past and was referred to as Jakimowicze in 1473 and Krasny Dwór in the 18th century. Its past owners included the Radziwiłł, Krasiński, Ossoliński and Jezierski families. In 1840, Russian Duke Sergei Golitsyn received the village as part of the dowry of his wife, Maria Jezierska. In 1879, the village returned to the Krasiński family.

Historical records from the early 17th century mention an impressive, three-story palace with a clock tower surrounded by a moat in Starawieś. Duke Golitsyn ordered the Baroque residence to be remodeled. The project, carried out by an architect whose name remains unknown, gave the palace the appearance of an Elizabethan castle, which was a popular trend during the Romanticism period. The reasons behind the redevelopment were romantic as well, as according to memoirists of the day, the duke was deeply in love with his beautiful wife.

The interiors of the palace were refurbished in 1859-1863 using designs by well-known architect Bolesław Podczaszyński. The décor of the lobby and stately rooms on the second floor was inspired by English art and is considered one of the best examples of Neo-Gothic architecture in Poland. The top cartouche bears the coat of arms of the Golitsyn dukes and the coat of arms of the Jezierski family. Below are the coats of arms of the Bieliński and Sapieha families. The coats of arms of the Krasiński and Gawroński families were placed at the base in 1879 to commemorate Kazimierz Krasiński and his wife Józefa, née Gawrońska.

The 30-hectare English park surrounding the palace was established in the years when the palace was being remodeled and refurbished. The park, which farther away transforms into a forest complex, preserves some traces of the original design of a scenic park with an irregular system of alleys, rows of trees, canals with romantic footbridges, glades and old trees. The park also has two large ponds, one with an island in the middle. The park and the palace are property of the Polish central bank, and is used as a training center. As a result, both the palace and the park are closed to the public. Other sites of tourist interest in Starawieś include a Neo-Gothic parish church designed by Bolesław Podczaszyński, the church was built in 1866-1871. On the main altar, visitors can see a 18th-century painting depicting St. Michael the Archangel and modeled on a painting by Guido Reni. The picture is most likely the work of painter Szymon Czechowicz.