The Old Castle in Żywiec, made of stone and roughast, dates back to the
mid-14th century. On the north-eastern side it is adjoinet by
a quadrilateral tower topped with pseudo Gothic crenelles. But it is not
only the age of the castle that makes it deserve its place in the
world cultural heritage. It is also its most interesting history, closely
linked with the history of Europe. The founders of the castle are not not
known, and the first documented owners of the town and the castle were
the Komorowskis of the "Korczak" crest, who, through their foregin
contacts and travels, made the castle fit in with the European Renaissance
art trends. They initiated the transformation of the Gothic structure into
a Renaissance one and their work was the beautiful arcaded courtyard,
with we can still admire today in its original lay-out.
The interiors, once sumptuous, have not kept their original decorations,
and only a few of the second-floor chambers still display their
polichromies from the beginning of the 18th century and remains
of Renaissance paintings. The least Changed is the courtyard surrounded
on the four sides by three-storeyed arcaded galleries. The arcades have
columns of Tuscan order on the ground floor and Ionic ones on the first floor,
and 19th-century cast-iron posts on the second floor. The castle also boasts
several portals in various styles, from the Gothic to the Baroque; one
of them bears the date 1571 and a Latin inscription.
The New Castle is a classicistic palace built by the Habsburgs on the site of the Wielopolskis' former
outbuildings (of which one building has survived and houses TMZŻ today).
The palace was built in stages and the last to be constructed was the part with a bowling-alley on the
ground floor and a ballroom on the first floor; the latter, due to its acoustic quality, creates a splendid
interior for chamber music concerts. Among the designers of the palace were two famous architecs, M±czyński
The Żywiec Castle is surrounded by a historic 26-ha park, which dates from the 17th century. It was originally founded
in the Italian style and clearly composed of two parts: one with garden plots and the other with regulary planted
trees. In the second half of the 18th century a canal was built here, as well as a summer-house in a Chinese style
(with the crest of the Wielopolski family, "Starykoń", over the roof). In the first half of the 19th century the geometrical
lay-out of the park was changed into an English landscape design (which put the China House on an island).
The last changes came in the 1930s, designed by an Englishwoman Brenda Collins and Implemented by Kit Beckh (also coming from England).
The Cathedral of the Virgin Mary's Birth.
The church was built in the first half of the 15th century. In the years 1515-1542 it was largely extended due
to the raising of the walls and lengthening of the presbytery. At the end of the 16th century it was extended again
by the lengthening of the nave and the erection of a tower designed by Jan Ricci, an architect brought here
from Orawa. After a fire of 1711, which caused serious damages, the church was renovated in the Baroque style by the
Wielopolskis, the propietors of the Żywiec Region at the time.
The Church of the holy Cross.
It was erected at the end of the 14h century in the Gothic style.
In 1679 its old nave was replaced by a new, bigger one. In 1690
the presbytery was also extended by a round apse. In the 18th century
the church was rebuilt in the Baroque style, and in 1910 a tower was
As part of the earliest interior decoration many valuable examples
of Gothic art have been preserved, including Christ's Deposition, St. Ann
with Teo Others and Madonna on the Throne (or, with Wild Strawberries),
which (the latter) was only recently discovered under layers of other
paintings. These precious works can now all be seen in the Żywiec City