Opinogóra Castle 1828-1843. [Click on this image and those below for larger pictures.]

This spectacular neo-Gothic castle, which looks as if it was from a fairy tale, was erected in 1828-1843 for Zygmunt Krasiński (1812-1859), one of the three foremost Polish Romantic poets, by his father General Wincenty Krasiński, who wanted his son to return to Poland from political exile in Switzerland and get married. The General was commander of a regiment of light cavalry in Napoleon’s imperial guard that was famous for its daring charge at Samosierra in 1808 during the Spanish campaign, and after the formation of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw under French protection, the Opinogóra estate was granted to him by Napoleon in 1811 together with the title of Count as a reward for his fidelity. After the defeat of Napoleon, strangely enough, General Krasiński became a loyal subject of Tsar Alexander I, who acknowledged Krasiński’s title and the right to the estate.

Nothing is known for certain who designed the park and the Little Castle, which was used as a summer garden pavilion. It was most likely the poet’s mother, Princess Maria Urszula Krasińska née Radziwill, who first envisaged the idea of creating an English-style romantic park with a Gothic edifice. However, she died in 1822, six years before the works were begun. The young Zygmunt Krasiński spent a few summers in Opinogóra, watching the park and the walls of the Little Castle grow. In 1843, on the strong insistence of his father, he married Countess Eliza née Branicka, but the couple spent little time in Opinogóra; they mostly sojourned in Germany, France and Italy. In the late 1850s the estate was administered by Krasiński family. During World War I the Little Castle was destroyed. Plans to reconstruct the neo-Gothic castle and the landscape park in Opinogóra were made in the 1950s. Actual works began in 1958 and were completed three years later. Now the Little Castle and the newly reconstructed mansion are seat of the Museum of Romanticism, which has numerous period exhibits, including memorabilia of Krasiński family, Polish Romanticism, and the Napoleonic era.

The romantic English-style landscape park, which surrounds the Little Castle, extends over three hills and a large lake. The park achieved its final form and appearance in 1895 by the noted Polish landscape architect Walerian Kronenberg (1859-1934). Opinogóra is situated 8 kilometres north of Ciechanów in Mazovian Voivodeship in north-central Poland.

Photographs 2011 by the author. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.

Bibliography

Taylor, Patrick. The Oxford Companion to the Garden. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Gardner, Monica Mary. The Anonymous Poet of Poland Zygmunt Krasinski. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1919.

Królik, Janusz. Opinogóra. Opinogóra: Muzeum Romantyzmu, 2004.


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Last modified 7 September 2011