The Royal Palace
In 1750, the King of Prussia, the new ruler of Silesia, bought a baroque palace with an adjacent garden from the family of Baron Heinrich Gottfried Spätgen. The palace had been built in the Wiener style in 1717 on the current Kazimierza Wielkiego Street. In the years 1751-53, the royal architect, Johann Boumann Senior, had adapted the building to suit Frederick II the Great’s needs.
A two-storey wing, which has not been preserved, was added then to the existing building from the side of the garden. The wing contained rooms for the king: the music room, the bedroom, the chancellery, the library, the audience room, the marshal’s room and the dining room. The rococo interiors were already finished in 1752. In the years 1795-1796, Karl Gotthard Langhans rebuilt, at Frederick William II’s request, the oldest part of the baroque palace in the spirit of classicism. From the north side, the royal apartments were ornamented with wooden panelling, marble fireplaces, textile wallpapers of green and red, and overdoors (supraportes) with paintings on the subject of antiquity. In accordance with the architect’s design, the palace courtyard was enclosed by two one-storey guardhouses with the entrance gate in the middle. In 1809, the next king, Frederick William III, prepared for himself rooms on the upper floors of the south section of the oldest part of the palace. The rooms, according to the king’s wish, were to be modestly furnished with bourgeois furniture in the Empire style. The walls of the rooms had been covered over with colourful textiles from which the later names of the rooms – the Blue and the Yellow Room – were derived.
The next changes took place in the middle of 19th century, when an architect from Berlin, Friedrich August Stüler, designed a general extending of the royal residence. In the years 1843-46, the new south wing for Frederick William IV was built in the spirit of the Florentine Renaissance. A fragment of the wing has survived till now. In 1858, from the north side, three-storey east and west wings were built in place of the guardhouses. The wings were joined in 1867 by a decorative colonnade with entrance gates, closing the courtyard. The colonnade has been preserved to the present day.
In 1918, the palace was handed over to the Wrocław local government and prepared for exhibition purposes. On the 20th of September, 1926, the Palace Museum (Schlossmuseum) was opened in the former Royal Palace. An exhibition dedicated to the times of Frederick II the Great was organized on the right side of the south wing. Collections of Silesian glass and pottery as well as iron casts were also displayed. Interiors from the baroque, rococo and classicistic periods were reconstructed upstairs. Other rooms were filled with paintings and sculptures from the Albrecht Säbisch collection.
In 1938, the two side wings, occupied by military authorities up to that time, were also handed over for exhibition purposes. Historical exhibitions as well as exhibitions of Silesian craft and modern art were organized there. In the last month of the Second World War, the palace was damaged. The former Spätgen’s Palace with the north wings and a fragment of the south wing have been preserved to the present day. After the rebuilding, the Archaeological Museum was located there in the years 1963-1999, and the Ethnographic Museum till 2004. The complete refurbishment and modernization of the building for the Wrocław City Museum was finished in 2008. The middle and the east wing have been designated for the permanent exhibition “A Thousand Years of Wrocław”. The Gallery of Wrocław Art of the 19th and the 20th Centuries has been located in the west wing. The original baroque bourgeois interior, the so-called The Beyersdorfs’ Room, has also been opened to the public in its entirety for the first time.
The baroque garden in the French formal style has been restored to the south of the Palace
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