Another Polish Museum, decided to show its exhibitions to wider public on the internet. Lets take a look at the beauty of the Pszczyna castle, on the south of the Poland, just over a dozen kilometers from infamous Oświęcim and its Auschwitz camp.
Pszczyna – the name of the small city – must be a real nightmare to pronounce. To make it easier and to hear proper sound of the word, you can use ‘text to speech’ synthesizer, choosing Polish language here
Pszczyna changed its owner few times in the history. The todays castle used to be a gothic fortification, back in the middle ages, but was reconstructed into renaissance residence in the 16th century. This was just the first of the major changes. The biggest changes were made during the times of Dukes of Anhalt-Köthen-Pless in 18th and 19th centuries, who expanded the estate and founded park around it.
The present shape of the castle and its surrounding was executed by the successor of the Dukes, Prince Hans Heinrich XI, Duke of Hochberg. One must know the Silesia, land where Pszczyna lies, was under Prussian rule after the partition of Poland in 1795. Soon, this beautiful place became very popular as a hunting palace for German nobles, Dukes and even Emperors.
Between 1870 and 1876 the residence was rebuilt by the French architect Aleksander Hipolit Destailleur into the two-story palace-castle on a quadrangle plan in the style of 17th century French architecture.
As the official site of the Castle says:
Between 1914 and 1917 the Pszczyna castle played an important role housing an Emperor’s Headquarters and the General Stuff of the German Army. It was here, in Pszczyna, where the Emperor, the Chief of General Staff, Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, and the Chief of Eastern Staff, General Erich von Ludendorff, were making military decisions changing the history of Europe.
In 1922 Pszczyna was incorporated into the Polish state and remains within its borders until today. Thankfully it survived the II World War almost intact, even after the takeover by the Red Army, as a place for a military hospital. It was in such good shape it could be reopened as a museum in 1946. “The castle in Pszczyna is one of the very few museums of this type in this part of Europe with so many elements of preserved historical furnishings. In 1995 the museum was rewarded with an honourable diploma for the concept of interior renovation by organization Europa Nostra with its seat in Hague, the pan-European federation for cultural heritage: “For diligent reconstruction of the castle interiors with their furnishings based on thorough historical researches which brought back the splendour of the beginning of the twentieth century”.
The other part of the collection, which interested us most, is the armoury, mostly with objects gathered by the late owners of the castle. Armoury is placed in the basement of the castle in few rooms. It isn’t big collection, but seems to be interesting, covering European and Eastern arms from the 16th to 20th century. Most of them are firearms including famous “Tschinke” rifles from the 17th century, characteristic because of its thin stock and beautiful, encrusted in bone and mother of pearl decoration. One can find few examples of Persian and even Japanese arms!
Despite small collection Pszczyna is important place on the Polish map of antique arms. Curator of the castle, mr Jan Kruczek is one of the finest experts on arms, especially on firearms. His work on Tschinke rifles printed in 2001 is, and will be for many years the most significant work on the subject! He is also author of few minor catalogues:
From the technical point of view, castle’s virtual tour is far better then previously presented tour from the Warsaw Army Museum. The engine is much more predictable, you just hold your left-mouse-button to look around freely, and use a scroll or ctrl for zooming. Unfortunately the quality of the pictures leaves many room for improvements. They are probably reduced to increase the speed of the site. It makes all the details of the arms indistinct. Also one can find some troubles to see some of the glass-cases clearly if the camera operator could get closer, and pictured some of them from a far side.
To get directly to the armoury you need to use a map in the upper corner of the window. There you can switch between the floors and other parts of the exhibition and tour, which will not bother us at the moment.
The movement between the rooms is also possible thanks to the arrows.
In the rooms one cannot find too many information, which is not good, as one would like to get some more knowledge about gathered exhibits. There is only general information regarding visited room and only few objects you can click on, to see enlargement.
The menu is simple: hide icons, help, zoom in out and in, rotate, full screen.
The Tour is available HERE
For those with small bandwith or those who cannot see it due to compatibility of the browser, I made few screenshots from the site. Enjoy!