Leśnica is now one of the Wroclaw districts, located by the Bystrzyca river approximately 15 km from the city centre. Earlier known as a settlement rather than a city (Lesnyc, Lesnicz, Lesna, Latin Lesnicia), it was established next to a prince’s town and often mentioned in the 13th century documents of the Silesian Piast dynasty. Until 1873 it was known as Lissa in Schlesien, then – Deutsch Lissa, and later, when it was incorporated in Wroclaw – as Breslau-Deutsch Lissa.
In 1289 Leśnica received the municipal rights (civitas Lesnicz) and became the managing centre for the important trade route from Wroclaw towards Środa Śląska and Legnica. The competition of a large city of Wroclaw did not have a positive influence of Leśnica’s development – in the 18th century documents it is mentioned only as a village.
Since the 14th century Leśnica has its coat of arms: it is a two-sided shield which has a half of the black Silesian eagle on a golden background on its left side and a bent right white-coated hand with a risen open palm on a red background on the right side.
HISTORICAL PALACE PARK
This park belongs to one of the most beautiful sights in the Wroclaw area, mostly because of its magnificent forest stand and impressive location by the Bystrzyca river – Lesnica tourist guide from the beginning of the 20th century, inviting people to walk in the park.
When walking in the park today, one may still notice its former glory. And its past is really illustrious.
While studying historical and iconographical publications (Grzegorz Grajewski’s archival query) and the artifacts discovered on the site, one can isolate at least five developmental periods of the park’s composition:
The garden foundation can be found in the north-eastern fertile terrace over the Bystrzyca river. The alleged quarter garden, vegetable garden or ornamental garden, that was usually situated outside the castle walls, could be seen from the windows in the residential wing of the castle.
THE LATE BAROQUE:
(LATE 18TH CENTURY)
Presented on the plan from 1795, on which the baroque residence is surrounded by a garden foundation featured as naturalistic, modelled on Chinese gardens. The composition, based on the exceptional qualities of the landscape as such, looks as follows: the wide moat on the east side, a pond with two islands shaped as water drops, double bridges, observation point on the hill on the south island, a promenade by the river with a round resting place under the huge tree with benches around. Further north, along the Bystrzyca river, the composition developed as a so-called “wild promenade”.
On the north side of the castle there was a large grange with farm houses and conservatory on the eastern border of the farm courtyard. On the east wall of the conservatory stood a quartered kitchen garden (“kuchen garten”) and a small orchard. Further north, beyond the bordering water channel, there lay the church grove (“der Kirchen Busch”) with drainage ditches and alleys leading in different directions, with a large meadow in the place of today’s park pond.
Near the kitchen garden one may see a circular garden separated from the grove, which use remains unknown. It was surrounded with a hedge with three tall trees bordering the entrance.
THE BEGINNING OF THE 19TH CENTURY:
A magnificent English garden, shaped as a zonal landscape park by a famous landscapist Joseph Peter Lenne – the author of numerous royal and gentry gardens in Prussia and Silesia (royal gardens in Potsdam, Mysłakowice, Kamieniec Ząbkowicki, Wojanów, Łomnica, Krasków and the Szczytnicki Park in Wrocław). The church grove was attached to the park’s composition. This way the park was shaped in the English style as a landscape park of a romantic character.
Around the palace, within the partially filled moats, in the direction of the pond, there lay a “pleasure ground” – very elegant, grassy, decorated with flowerpots and scattered groups of decorative bushes. The ground was attached to the proper landscape park.
The vast park spread along the banks of Bystrzyca, was characterized by an unimpeded arrangement of circumference roads, blight landscape meadows, sight alleys exposing the view of palace and its neighbourhood, garden buildings (bowers, belvederes, a gardener’s house, conservatory and palm house), developed water arrangements, ponds and channels. The forest stand was also quite impressive, composed in groups and flowerbeds, consisting of both Polish and imported species: oaks, ashes, hornbeams, maple-trees, plane-trees, tulip trees, Canadian hemlocks, white pines, black pines, and masses of blooming bushes of jasmine, may bushes, barberries, wild roses – all this forms an impressive landscape.
19TH / 20TH CENTURY
The park acquires its naturalistic arrangement; with lots of shady groves of ashes, hornbeams and white pines. Vast meadows were planted round with groups of expansive bushes (false spireas, snowberries, alpine currant) which destroyed the romantic concept, based on shadow-light contrast. The roads were straightened, the moat completely filled, the ponds reduced.
The historical concept and park’s composition gradually disappear. Most of the buildings devastated and destroyed. The more sensible species of trees and bushes die out.
Between 1995 and 2000, thanks to the Wrocław Municipal Office, the landscape arch. Halina Krajewska with the team (“Sztuka Ogrodów Ltd.”) prepared a complex project of rebuilding the park-palace area. The project was awarded in the prestigious Regional Architecture Review (Wrocław 2003), organized by the Union of Polish Architects. The plan is to restore the old splendor of the palace garden and the landscape park, by reconstructing the park’s composition as it was in its prosperity – according to the existing plan of J. P. Lenne from 1836.
A partial reconstruction of the castle rampart system has been planned, together with the exposition of archeological sites, mostly the second wall strip with bastions and two islands linked with arched bridges. The team plans to reconstruct the system of alleys and paths, exposure of the landscape meadows, its grass and particular trees and bushes. The park will be closed by the rebuilt wall on Marszowicka Street, and within its borders the garden buildings will stand (bowers, bridges, belvedere, stone and wooden benches, stairs), but the most important thing is to restore its unique flora: singletons, picturesque bushes and trees, English flowerbeds.
The plan has been partially completed, when it comes to the water system (an island on the pond), alleys and paths, playground, forest stand – new trees and bushes, and park’s undergrowth. What should yet be completed is a small musical theatre on the island on the pond, hedge theatre in the moat, exposing of the meadows and sight alleys, additional architectural details (walls with gates and gateways, bridges, bowers, belvedere), new arrangement of St. John’s Square (Plac Świętojański) with the St. Hedwig (Jadwiga) fountain. The renovation also comprises the surrounding houses on Średzka, Wolska and Dolnobrzeska streets – the house facades were painted in matching colours between 1999 and 2000.
The works that have been conducted in the area help to expose the beauty of this part of Wroclaw – one will make sure it’s worth visiting, when seeing the palace and park in that distant part of Wroclaw.
Halina Gołda Krajewska.