Lancut Castle is one of the most magnificent aristocratic castles in Poland. In the interwar period, it hosted the likes of Ferdinand I, King of Romania, Prince George, Duke of Kent, as well as Mary Pickford, an American silent film star.
You'll get felt slippers to move around the palace chambers. The inlaid floors, made by carpenters from Kolbuszowa, are almost 200 years old and the residential interiors are one of the most beautiful in Poland. An early Baroque palazzo, serving both residential and defensive purposes, was built in the first half of the 17th century by Stanisław Lubomirski, the Krakow province, and district governor.
He hired, among others, Tylman van Gameren, a Dutch architect who designed many palaces, manor houses, and churches. Considered very modern then, the castle's fortification was one of the strongest links in the defense system of the Commonwealth.
The Lubomirski family lived in Lancut for around 200 years. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Potocki family took the castle over. Repeatedly rebuilt, the castle has retained different styles and original interiors. The Castle comprises over 200 rooms. Most of their designs date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. But the great vestibule, the room under the wooden ceiling, and the zodiac room go back to the 1740s.
Rooms with heating
The lady’s and man’s apartments, consisting of living rooms, bedrooms, dressing rooms, and bathrooms, served as a private area for the hosts, who lived a comfortable life. In winter they would sit at warm earthenware stoves. Since after the general renovation at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, they could would use bathtubs with running water.
Giant crystal chandeliers decorate the ceiling of the classical ballroom. It's the biggest and the most representative room in the castle. In the evening, light emitted by the chandeliers falls on a ceiling painted in clouds. It creates an illusion of sunlight. The room has great acoustics which is why it was in use for holding concerts and staging performances. These even included amateur opera pieces.
These traditions continue to this day by means of the Musical Festival in Lancut, held since 1961. Moreover, every year, in late June and early July, violinists from around the world visit Lancut, who come to master their skills by participating in special courses.
The ballroom is next to the only palace theater in Poland, where the première of Jan Potocki’s “Parades and Proverbs” was held. Potocki, the husband of Lancut heiress Julia Lubomirska, was an extraordinary figure. A writer, journalist, traveler, he was also a pioneer of historical and archaeological research in the Slavic language.
Today, he's remembered as the author of “The Manuscript Found in Saragossa”, a frame-tale novel consisting of philosophical and fictional stories told within other stories. Its 1964 film adaptation by Wojciech Has is one of Polish cinema’s greatest masterpieces. Martin Scorsese incorporated it into his original review of “Masterpieces of Polish Cinema”.
Most of the works of art, furniture, musical instruments, weapons, clocks, and silverware are still here today. The furniture is exquisite not only with regards to its appearance but also because of its practical nature. Examples include an 18th-century inlaid bureau containing lots of drawers which can all be locked using one key, a table for playing cards with retractable ashtrays as well as garden stools heated with charcoal.
In the corridors, there is an impressive collection of sculptures and paintings by both Polish and European artists. Looking at the portraits, one can see almost all generations of the Lubomirski and Potocki families. The nobleman with a bristling mustache, full beard, and a long lock of hair on the top of his shaved hair (a hairstyle resembling that of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, popular among Polish noblemen) is Stanisław Lubomirski, the founder of the Łańcut Castle.
The castle’s book collection, preserved almost in its entirety, consists of 22,000 volumes, including manuscripts, prints, periodicals, graphics, maps, and music materials. Treasures include the Basel edition of “Chronicles” by Marcin Kromer from 1555 and Dutch atlases from the 17th century.
Other places worth seeing include the stables and the carriage house which have a unique collection of more than 130 horse-driven vehicles and harnesses. The French firm Hermès made some of themfor the Potocki family. Also on offer are travel accessories and Jan Potocki’s hunting trophies.
To keep up with the European trend of growing orchids, the Potockis had a greenhouse erected in 1904, where they grew about 200 species of the plant.
Nowadays, visitors can admire around 900 species of them. Like many years ago, the most impressive orchids adorn the interiors of the castle and please the eyes of visitors. Flowers in the rooms changed at least twice a day so that they matched the tableware.
A dry moat surrounds the castle along which there is an alley lined with linden trees. Within the fortifications, there's a French garden with flowerbeds and fountains, behind which there is a 30-hectare landscape park.