Abbot’s Palace

Oliwa, Poland | C.1577

Photo Credit: Marta Zdzieblo

Initially serving as the lavish residence to Cistercian Abbots, today the Abbot’s Palace is open for the public to explore. Located in Oliwa within the district of Gdansk, Poland, the Palace’s property also includes a charming 10 hectare park and Oliwa Cathedral.

Originally built in the 15th century, the Rococo style palace saw renovations in 1577 when the building was extended to its current size and utilized as the residence for the Cistercian Abbots. Final additions to the palace were made between 1754 and 1756, funded by Cistercian Abbot, Jacek Rybinski. After the partitions of Poland, the divided area became part of Prussia until 1831 when property of the Cistercians was secularized, and the palace became an asset of the House of Hohenzollern

The Bishops of Ermland (or Warmia), Karl and Joseph von Hohenzollern-Hechingen resided in the Palace from 1796 until 1836. It remained empty until 1869 when Maria Anna von Hohenzollern-Hechingen, niece of Joseph, moved into the palace. After her death in 1888 the ownership of the palace was taken over by the city of Oliwa, which used it for offices and apartments.

Throughout World War II the Palace was utilized as an army depot. Marking the end of the war in 1945, it was set on fire by German troops who sought to clear the terrain in a ploy to slow the advancing Red Army. The palace was rebuilt in 1965 through the efforts of the Pomeranian Museum in Gdansk. It initially served as the ethnographic department of the museum until 1972 when the Museum was elevated to a status of a National Museum.

Since 1989 the palace houses the Department of Modern Art of the Polish National Museum in Gdansk. In February 1990 a special gallery devoted to contemporary Polish art was established. Permanent exhibitions include works by Polish artists from 19th and 20th century. It also houses the “Promotional Gallery” which exhibits works by young up and coming artists.

The Abbot Palace is a landmark of the region not just for its beauty, but also for its historical significance. A day at the Palace relishing in the collection of modern art, a quaint lunch at the resident restaurant and a charming walk through the surrounding park is bound to impress visitors.

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