Friday, May 16, 2008

Unexpected castle

Still writing on the recent visit to Poland. My brother's girlfriend drove us around her village and the neighboring towns, including the Radziwill Castle where Chopin played, but I have to say that the most surprising thing was in her town, Sosnie, about an hour away from Wroclaw. As she drove to the church, she started to tell me an incredible story about the abandoned castle near the church, which belonged to a couple of nobles. They built this beautiful castle/mansion/hunting lodge, whatever you want to call it, covered with cork bark imported from Africa. And there they lived happily until the husband got in a duel because of a dispute over cards, killed his opponent, and had to flee to Africa, where he spent the rest of his life. (Belle Epoque era.)

I listened to this story with growing amazement, and it wasn't that I didn't believe her, but it didn't sink in until we looked at their tombstones behind the church. Sure enough, his indicated that he died at Aswan, Egypt. I suppose his body was shipped home.

The castle is all boarded up and in disrepair. It was used for a while as part of a school for foresters, but now it's empty. But you can see how amazing it is; we peered through one window to see this fresco on a wall, and you can see the beautiful wooden ceiling above it. Even the porches have custom tiling; I was amazed that it hadn't been pried up and carried off by now. It's for sale very cheap, but I can't imagine how much it would cost to fix up. With the story behind it, it would be worth it!

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