Hotel President

Bielsko-Biala, Poland | C.1892

Photo Credit: Maciek Lulko

One of the most recognizable buildings in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, the Hotel President is a commanding, elegant structure located near the city’s center. Built in 1892, the Hotel was designed in the Neo-Renaissance style by one of the city’s most renowned architects, Karol Korn.

Korn worked mainly in Bielsko-Biala and is credited with developing the metropolitan look of the city. Commissioned by Henryk Hochstim, Korn designed the Hotel as a detached, four-story structure bearing a facade with mythological motifs and floral ornamentation. When the Hotel was initially built, it was named Kaiserhof, meaning “Imperial Court”, after the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, Franz Josef I.

At the time of the Hotel’s construction, Poland was partitioned among the Kingdom of Prussia, the Russian Empire, and Austria, but with the end of WWI the state reemerged as a sovereign country. In 1922, Gabriel Narutowicz, a Polish professor and politician, became the first President of Poland and the Hotel was renamed in his honor. However, Narutowicz would serve a very short term – he was assassinated only five days after his election.

Maciej Rataj would take over the office, yet Poland’s future as a sovereign state was ultimately short-lived. The Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 sparked the beginning of WW2, and the country soon found itself under German and Soviet rule. During the War, the President Hotel was transformed into the headquarters of the Bielsko Operational Group of the Kraków army.

After the War, the Hotel periodically housed a hospital and then offices for the city’s Municipal Cultural Center. In 1962, the Hotel officially reopened. Recently, the Hotel underwent a restoration to modernize the building while still preserving its 19th-century charm.

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