I know this one is long, but bear with me – I get a whole day done and I promise, not even pictures of dinner – you’ll see why at the end.
So last night’s dinner and the concert the night before were not the end of the generosity and friendship shown to us by Janusz and Hanna Malinowski. When we mentioned we planned to rent a car to drive to some sites 30-60 minutes away the next day, they offered to go with us and drive! Turned out to be fun for them too because Hanna had never seen these places and Janusz had last seen the castle 40 years ago when it was not much more than a ruin.
The first stop was a former large farm and manor home that now is used for seminars and training and raising horses. It had formerly belonged to James Helmuth Von Moltke
The estate is now used to hold conferences and it seemed to further the ideas of solidarity begun in the 1980’s.
We walked through some of the rooms of the big house that are set up as a kind of museum of the history of Wroclaw and resistance.
Some parts from the exhibition in the house. The first one shows the movement of people that took place at Russia’s command. Poles who were in Eastern Poland (which Russia wanted) and those who had been deported to Siberia previously were brought to the formerly German lands around Breslau, now Wroclaw. In addition, all the Germans and, in fact, everything German including many graves were removed from the area. The people were put on trains until there was no room, then they were forced to walk to Dresden in the winter – many died along the way and many died in Dresden during the Fire Bombing. This would have included some not so distant relatives of mine also.
Next stop was the Peace Church in Swidnica. This Lutheran Church is the largest wooden church in Europe, at least. It is a Lutheran Evangelical Church built with permission from the Emperor given in 1652. It was the third of three that could be built with the restriction that they be built all of wood and be finished within a year of beginning. It almost was not finished until Hans Heinrich of Ksiaz (visiting that castle next) donated 2000 trees from his forest. It was completed in 1657. It can accommodate 7500 people! Of course parts were done later – the altar was in 1750’s and renovation has been done over the years.
The organ was completed in 1666 and is still working. It’s absolutely beautiful.
Last but not least, Ksiac Castle. Standing dramatically on a steep rocky hill, encircled by a gorge, Ksiaz Castle towers majestically over the area. After visiting some of its grand chambers, it is worthwhile to take a stroll down the excellent castle terraces and landscaped gardens where you can admire a magnificent views of the surrounding area. There was also a grim episode in the history of the castle. During the World War II it was intended to be transformed into one of Hitler’s headquarters. Some mysterious underground halls and corridors were built here as it became part of the Project Riese – the biggest mining enterprise of Nazi Germany which led to construction of a complex of tunnels inside the Owl Mountains.
There were a few rooms decorated to look as they might have before the war. Janusz told us that he was last here 40 years ago when it was still mostly rubble and he was amazed at the reconstruction that has been done. Besides the displays of art works, some beautifully decorated rooms, there was also an extensive photo collection of the family who lived there mostly taken by the head chef who was a photography lover. His granddaughter donated the negatives so large pictures could be printed. I didn’t really photograph most of them but here are a couple.
This is the stables that belonged to the castle. They are still used and horses are bred here.
Display of carriages
And a few of the many beautiful horses.
Indoor riding ring
Also the greenhouse/conservatory which was beautiful and where we learned that Janusz knew most of the plants – not only by one name, often by three names, Latin, Polish and English!
So end of the day and we drove back to their house to eat leftovers from the great dinner we had the night before! That’s why no picture needed this time.