The name of Heinrich, count von Brühl has come up twice in my investigations into Warsaw history and buildings. Firstly in relation to his palace on Saski Square (Plac Piłsudskiego) and now as regards the country palace and land that neighbours our new home.
The palace at Saski square came up when I was investigating the historical architecture of that area. Coincidentally, I was there last weekend and took this shot of the construction site for the new Saski palace. Looks like they may be about to start building something?
The same site, but taken from a different angle (and higher) over two years ago. This archaeology business can really screw up your construction timetables!
The Bruhl palace closer to home we spotted first whilst out for a walk in our new neighbourhood. It has a small, by palace standards, entrance off ul. Muzealna which gives a view down a tree lined avenue to the palace beyond.
A friendly local explained that if we wanted it it was up for sale for 21 million PLN. As it happens, this information might have been somewhat out of date because according to this article the palace was purchased by a Warsaw lawyer back in June for 18 million (anticipated discount on asking price of 22.7 million). That’s around 1,400 PLN per square metre if you want to compare prices. The plot is 1.3 hectares – 13,000 sqm – 3.2 acres.
There have been previous transactions of this palace but they all floundered on the lack of permission to develop the site much beyond it’s historical use. Apparently this lawyer chap is just going to tidy the place up and use it as his own residence. Mind you, there’s an awful lot of tidying to be done! I don’t have any shots of the rear but it looks like a ruin compared to the pictures I have here. I must say though that, ignoring the price to purchase and cost to renovate, this will make a fantastic home. A country estate but 20 minutes from Warsaw centre. Who could ask for more?
Actually I just found this article which is talking about the Conservation Officer giving permission for some changes but I’ll need more time to establish exactly what – i.e. to translate the thing!
This suburban residence was built by Johan Friedrich Knoblauch and called “Wilanow of the North”. The palace was famous for outrageous parties and balls. In the second half of the 18th century Szymon Bogumił Zug rebuilt the palace in the style of a classic guildhall. Destroyed during the second world war it was rebuilt and housed the museum of Ethnography. Until the 90’s it remained the property of the National Academy of Science.
We’ve walked past it many times but not ventured over the fence. The other weekend, I went out for a walk alone into the wilder parts of the neighbouring land and after working my way around a small lake and then up a steep slope I found myself standing face to face with the palace without having to deliberately break any boundaries. I imagined the place would be deserted but I think there’s a caretaker living in the north wing because I saw a tricycle parked there (visible in the next picture) and curtains in the windows. There’s a weird looking guy, about 45 years old, rides around the neighbourhood on a tricycle made for a 6 year old. I thought he was just the local mutant but it seems he might be the palace caretaker.
There are strange parts of buildings spread over a wide area, many of them outside the land that comprises the current plot. I’ve heard stories of private zoos and there were no doubt a few follies scattered around just for good measure. I wonder what this one was?
As for the original occupier of the place, Mr Bruhl (with umlauts), I imagine him to have been one of those people who looks after his master (in his case Augustus II the Strong, twice king of Poland) but looked after himself almost as well. He ended up pretty much running Saxony and had a list of titles as long as both arms. This was very useful for accumulating wealth. His combined salaries were circa $1.4 million a year and when later investigated it was found that he had taken more than $100 million for his personal use. When he died he had around $30 million left which his family went on to enjoy.
Note: I’m using here a present day equivalent of $20 for every 18th century German Thaler. It was a very tough job to find any reference to the value of a Thaler in today’s money but I eventually found something and then fudged it from there. Any man who had 70,000 books, countless pictures, kept 12 tailors busy by wearing a new suit every day, had palaces in Dresden, Warsaw and Młociny….wasn’t short of a bob or two!
It appears though, that getting rich and enjoying himself were the only things that Mr. count von Bruhl was good at. Wikipedia has a very nice paragraph explaining how terrible he was at everything else:
Brühl must therefore be held wholly responsible for the ruinous policy which destroyed the position of Saxony in Germany between 1733 and 1763; for the mistaken ambition which led Frederick Augustus II to become a candidate for the throne of Poland; for the engagements into which he entered in order to secure the support of the Emperor Charles VI; for the shameless and ill-timed tergiversations [equivocations] of Saxony during the War of the Austrian Succession; for the intrigues which entangled the electorate in the alliance against Frederick the Great, which led to the Seven Years’ War; and for the waste and want of foresight which left the country utterly unprepared to resist the attack of the king of Prussia. He was not only without political or military capacity, but was so garrulous that he could not keep a secret. His indiscretion was repeatedly responsible for the king of Prussia’s discoveries of the plans laid against him. Nothing could shake the confidence of his master, which survived the ignominious flight into Bohemia, into which he was trapped by Brühl at the time of the Battle of Kesseldorf, and all the miseries of the Seven Years’ War. The favourite abused the confidence of his master shamelessly.
Not somebody you’d want on your team then. Makes you wonder how much better the new owner is likely to be! (Polish lawyer joke!)