Rudawy Janowickie Mountains
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Karpniki Palace

There’s a village stretching along the foot of the Sokole hills which dates back to the 13th century. A neo-Gothic palace located in the lower part of the village is also often referred to as the castle.
Traditional accounts link either Duke Bolesław IV the Curly or Henry I the Bearded to the castle’s construction around the mid 12th century.

A settlement by the name of Bolzenhauser was said to have been established at the food of Krzyżna Mountain, and in 1351 its name was replaced by Fischback. In 1372 Agnes, a Jawor princess, handed her property over in perpetuity to the knight Clericus von Boltz (Bolcze), who most probably erected the nearby Bolczów castle. However, other sources give the castle as having been built in 1163-1201 by Duke Bolesław I the Tall to defend the homesteads and mines in the neighbourhood. Bolcze was owner of the nearby village of Mniszków and the mines.

The next owner was Hans von Schildau. In 1389 two thirds of the village belonged to Konrad von Predel. Documents list the next owner of Karpniki as the Nebelschutz family, which sold the village in 1389 to Titz Schindz. In 1426 or 1427 the old castle was destroyed by the Hussites, and in 1438 Cunz von Predel sold the castle together with its grange. The next owner is referred to as Cunz Bieler von Reichenbach from Dzierżoniowo. The property was bought in 1476 by Hans I Schoff, who was probably responsible for converting Karpniki palace. It comprised a courtyard measuring approximately 28 m x 23 m, on opposite sides of which were two buildings: a single-storey farm and a two-storey residence.
Karpniki remained in the hands of the Schaffgotsch family for many years to follow, up until Count Adam sold it in 1550 to Friederich von Canitz und Talowitz. Baron von Canitz, who was the village’s owner until 1648, began the building’s total conversion into Renaissance style in 1584. Following a fire in 1593 the castle was built up on a quadrilateral plan, the resultant form then being much as it remains to this day. During conversion at the turn of the 17th century new wings were erected, the tower was renewed, the moat was surrounded by walls and the interior was modernised. The main residential section was built in 1602.
Work was completed in 1603, seen in the date carved into one of the surviving portals.
More building work was carried out on the palace in 1609, when the tower was heightened and topped with a curved cupola.
The castle frequently changed hands throughout the years of its use. During the Thirty Years’ War Christoph Friedrich von Canitz und Talowitz died there. He had previously bequeathed the entire property to his wife, Lucrettia, who in 1648 sold it to her nephew Reimanr Friedrich von Winterfeld. His widow passed the property on to Elizabeth Christiane, daughter of Baroness Schonaich Carolath Beuthen, and after her death her step-sister, Anna Elizabeth, received Karpniki.
In 1679 she sold the Karpniki property to Baltazar Leopold von Hayn. Phillip Antoni, also from this family, handed the castle’s administration over to the Krzeszów monastery to pay off his debts, and later – in 1725 – gave it up to Franz Wilhelm von Schaffgotsch. In the mid 18th century the owner ordered the building’s conversion into baroque style. Following Franz’s death in the year 1774, the estate become the property of the state treasury, and three years later Krzeszów’s Cistercian monastery. However, in 1784 the palace was repurchased by Count Friedrich Wilhelm von Reden auf Hameln und Bennigsen, who three years later sold it to the Prussian minister for Silesian affairs, who was then Karl Georg Heinrich, Count von Hoym. In 1789 the village’s new owner was Kaspar Konrad, Baron von Zedlitz, who acquired it for the sum of 90,000 thalers; the tower acquired its baroque copula in the same year. Duke Wilhelm von Hohenzollern, brother of the King Frederick William III of Prussia, bought the castle from his uncle in 1822, and established a residence here for himself and his wife Marianna.

The new owners expanded the park in English romanticism style, erecting buildings in it such as Marianna’s cottage (1825), built on the fragments of a brick furnace, Wilhelm’s cottage (1832), a monument to Marianna’s brother, a Swiss house at the foot of the Sokoliki rocks, and in 1832 an iron cross – known as Marianna’s cross – was installed on the summit.
Yet another conversion began in 1844, into neo-Gothic style; work was completed in 1846, also the year in which Princess Marianna died.
During these years the Karpniki palace was frequently visited by Emperor Wilhelm, especially in his younger years. The Russian Tsar, Mikołaj, also visited on several occasions. Following the death of Duke Wilhelm of Prussia, the palace and its estates entered the possession of his daughter Princess Elizabeth, wife of Prince Charles of Hesse; she left Karpniki to her three sons. The grandson of the oldest of them, Duke Ernst Ludwig, bought the remaining portions of the property from his uncles and became owner of the entire estate. The castle remained in the hands of the Hesse-Darmstadt Dukes until 1945.
The Karpniki palace was used as a museum repository, created by Gunther Grundmann (regional conservator of Lower Silesia), and housed collections looted from countries occupied by Hitler. The last owner of Karpniki, Prince Louis of Hesse and by Rhein, also brought his collection of works of art here from Darmstadt.
In 1945, when the Soviet Army entered the region, many residents were evacuated. Among them were Gunther Grundmann, who took the collections from the Karpniki palace with him.
The palace was plundered by army troops after the war, and a People’s Higher School of Learning functioned there until around 1950. The building stood empty for some years, and only in 1956 was a centre for disabled children organised here.
Neglected for many years after the war, the building was renovated in 1962. In 1973 the palace was in such a terrible state that its residents had to abandon it. The city of Jelenia Góra then sold the palace to the company Polam of Łomnica, a producer of industrial porcelain. Renovation work commenced in 1978, but was interrupted in 1981, and the building was handed over to the Mysłakowice parish due to a shortage of funds. Unprotected, the palace dilapidated further. In 1989 it was bought by the company BIK. In 1993 thieves broke off the renaissance portal on the gate, getting it ready to remove; fortunately the damage was noticed in time, the portal was put back together in the cellars, and following restoration work was returned to its rightful place. Another company acquired the palace in 1995.
Currently the building is privately owned.

Architecture of Karpniki palace
Today’s renaissance palace in Karpniki comes from the 1st half of the 15th century. The conversion was carried out while it was in the hands of Caspar Schoff, around 1520. Analysis of the styling of the walls and surviving iconography reveals that the building of the time comprised two wings, an internal walled courtyard with a corner tower and a semicircular tower housing the staircase. Construction was completed in 1603, as informed by an inscription on the renaissance sandstone portal built into the building’s rear facade. This portal was once the main entrance. In the mid 18th century Friedrich von Schaffgotsch commissioned the building’s baroque conversion. Information regarding the rebuilding of the castle tower comes from 1797. The palace’s next conversion was carried out in the first half of the 19th century by Duke Wilhelm, who made Karpniki the summer residence for himself and his wife, Princess Marianna.
The conversion plans were probably drawn up in 1831, and connected to Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s business travels that spring in the Giant Mountains. Iconographic materials and the latest research shows that this conversion took place after the year 1838, and Duke Wilhelm, also known to be an accomplished draughtsman, was indirectly involved in the design work. The works were probably managed in person Friedrich August Stuler, one of Schinkel’s students. The involvement of Hamann and Julius Schultz from Wrocław, mentioned in a document dated 1833, also cannot be ruled out. Building work was completed in 1846, at the moment of Princess Marianna’s death. The palace then gained its neo-Gothic architectural style and Romantic, defensive character.
The building comprises three storeys, and is quadrilateral in plan with an internal courtyard. Its southern elevation features a pentagonal bay window with a doubled three-panel window and crowned with crenelation above the neo-Gothic lancet arch entrance. Of the mediaeval building, i.e. from the last quarter of the 15th century, only the cylindrical tower and irregular entrance with internal lancet arch portals have survived. Intact remains of the Renaissance decoration include fragments of the richly-carved portals, the portal with the inscription sign on the rear elevation, the ground-floor fenestration framework, a few profiled door frames, stuccowork at the entrance chamber, the ground-floor ceilings and parts of the wall polychromes recently revealed. Fragments of the 19th-century décor have survived in a few rooms. A neo-Gothic cupboard, wainscoting, parquetry and two marble fireplaces can still be seen in the library. And the chapel contains two surviving Biedermeier couches and wainscoting in the bay window.
It was initially Hans Carl Walter, the Bukowiec gardener, who set about creating the grounds’ greenery, and under the direction of Countess von Reden and Princess Marianna he transformed the layout at Karpniki into a landscape park. Oak and poplar avenues were gradually set out in charming scenery resulting in Karpniki and Bukowiec being beautifully connected. Recently researchers of the Jelenia Góra region rejected the possibility of the famous gardener J. P. Lenné being involved in the park’s creation. The plans for the buildings in the garden can most probably be attributed to K.F. Schinkel. Karpniki features garden buildings characteristic of this architect, in other words artificial ruins, viewing towers, horizontal terraces, tea rooms, Swiss-style forest lodges and Gothic monuments.
A broad linden avenue led up to the palace, and next to it was a neo-classicistic marble bench, probably designed by Schinkel. Two pedestals were positioned at the bench’s ends, and on them were the busts of Duke Wilhelm and Princess Marianna, while round medallions portraying Dukes Waldemar and Adalbert were to be found on the *** chimney-corners *** . A pedestal for duke Leopold von Hessen-Homburg, brother of duchess Marianna, was erected in the spruce grove. The sculpture, placed in a neo-Gothic aedicula, was of noble form and subtle Gothic detail, thus resembling the drawings of Schinkel.
Sadly many of the park’s features were destroyed or removed after World War 2, including the late-Romanesque portal originating from Rhineland.
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. "Dolina Zamków i Ogrodów. Kotlina Jeleniogórska - wspólne dziedzictwo". Red. O. Czerner, A. Herzig. Muzeum Okręgowe w Jeleniej Górze. Berlin i Jelenia Góra 2003
4. Portal Wiedzy

Translation Jonathan Weber