The Puslowski Palace – a luxurious count’s castle in the Belarusian town of Kossovo
The Palace of the Puslovskys is an architectural monument of the 19th century, located in the town of Kosovo in Belarus (not to be confused with Kosovo in the Balkans).
Castle legend of the Belarusian land
In the Brest region of Belarus is a small town Kossovo, where Kossovo Castle – the palace of the famous Counts Puslovsky, which for its fantastic luxury contemporaries called “Knightly Dreams” – is located.
The foundation of the castle
In 1491 Lithuanian Duke Alexander Jagielonczyk donated to Marshal Jan Hreptowicz the lands that later became the town of Kossovo. In 1821 the estate changed hands and was bought by Voytsekh Puslovsky, a Belarusian magnate, who owned large estates.
Interesting! Count Pushlovsky was a patron of arts, a lover of antiquities, was famous for his erudition and his huge library. With his personal money he built and restored 60 churches and churches in the county.
Clever man, not afraid of novelty, Puslovsky founded a carpet factory in Kosovo, installed mills and used a steam engine, launched the first hydroelectric power plant.
The Puslovskys were proud of the fact that next door was the family estate of the Belarusian national hero Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a hero of the United States and Poland. Kosciuszko is a revolutionary who is revered by Americans: he participated in the struggle for the independence of their country. In 1857, Count Puslowski restored Kosciuszko’s manor house, which had long remained abandoned.
The construction of the palace fell on the time when the estate was inherited by Wojciech’s son, Vandalin Puslowski. In 1838 architect Frantisek Jaschold designed the palace of amazing beauty at the request of the new owner.
Interesting! The bricks for the construction were brought from abroad, and each brick was packed in a special paper box.
Architecture of the palace
The palace was built on an artificially created hill. The building, built in the neo-Gothic style, resembles a medieval knight’s castle, and is striking with the grandeur and power of the castle walls. The facade of the castle is 120 meters long and includes a two-storey central building and two two-storey side pavilions moved forward connected to the central building by galleries.
The facade of the palace is framed by 12 faceted towers with teeth – by analogy with the months of the year. The four highest – the central towers – symbolize the bread months of May, June, July and August.
Windows of the palace are sharply onion-shaped, decorated with decorative platbands. The building is decorated with buttresses (vertical construction, projecting part of the wall, reinforcing the main bearing wall), as well as pilasters, rosettes and arcade friezes.
Pilasters are flat rectangular projections on the wall. rosette in architecture – “rosette”: several petals of a flower or leaf, the same shape, emanating from the center. Arcade frieze: an arch decorated with a horizontal band in relief or painting.
Step pediments complete the fairy-tale look of the castle. A pediment is the upper part of the building’s front façade, bounded by two roof slopes and a cornice.
Stepped gables are arranged in the form of steps, which decrease in size closer to the upper part, completing the wall with small steps.
Inside the palace is extravagance and fantastic luxury. Under the roof of the castle there are 132 rooms, each with a unique look – from the color of the walls to the frescoes and fine stucco.
Numerous paintings, original tapestries of many colors, elegant furniture, built-in fireplaces, sculptures and flowers gave a unique look to the Puslowski residence.
The luxurious ballrooms varied in color:
- The White Room, finished in snow-white marble with tiles, hosted balls;
- In the Black Room, guests and hosts played cards;
- in the Pink Room, music was played;
- the library contained tens of thousands of books;
- in the Parade Hall, as in a fairy tale, under the glass floor among the green algae swam the goldfishes: there was a huge aquarium.
The palace was made comfortable for living: the air heating worked, the floors were heated by steam boilers, and the ventilation system was thought over. Along the perimeter of the palace there was a huge cellar with the engineering equipment and household premises.
The windows and corridors of the castle were placed so that 2,5 days a year, the sunlight filled one of the 132 rooms. Every day one of them was decorated and spent there as much time as possible. The daily festivities were called “Room Day”.
Interesting! In the palace met persons of high society, classical music sounded here, and literary celebrities and men of science visited.
The state room on the second floor was entered by a narrow staircase, specially made without a railing. In the wall on each side of the staircase were walled up voices – clay pots. A lady in a pompous dress, going up to the hall, lightly touched the wall with her pompous attire. The sound was transformed and amplified, and music was played to welcome the guest and notify the hosts of her arrival.
A popular legend says that from the Palace of Puslovskie to the residence of the omnipotent minister Leo Sapieha in Ruzhany, there was a carriage with horses through the underground passage length of 25 km. In the palace the Puslovskys kept a tame lion. In the daytime he was sleeping in a cage, and at night he walked around the castle. He caused a terror on thieves and crafty servants of the palace masters.
The palace park
The grounds around the castle were landscaped by Italian Vladislav Marconi. One hundred and fifty species of exotic plants and trees have been planted here. For the finicky plants and bushes arranged greenhouses.
Fountains and marvelous cascades alternated in the park with beds of exotic plants. The hand-crafted beauty flowed seamlessly into the wild English park.
Three artificial ponds decorated the untouched area with conifers, the entrance and exit gates and the family chapel.
The attraction of the castle ensemble is the Love Island, which is a small bridge across the circular lake. Those who have come here for the first time make a wish, and no matter how unfulfilled it may seem, it is sure to come true.
Trees on the island grow in pairs, on them a lot of locks – symbols of eternal love and fidelity. And the keys from them – naturally, at the bottom of the lake. Around – the rural landscape: wells, benches, a wooden fence around the house and a stork in the nest.
The fate of the castle-palace
The flourishing castle was inherited by Vandalin’s son, Leonid Puslovsky, who lived abroad and visited the ancestral home for fun. He gave his father’s and grandfather’s palace away for next to nothing, having lost it in cards.
The new owner was the merchant Aleksandrov from St. Petersburg, who sold the palace to Princess Anna Trubetskoy. Later the castle was bought by Emperor Nicholas II for the needs of officials. During World War I the castle was looted. In 1921 the lands, on which the palace had been built, became part of Poland, and a beekeeping school and a district administration office were organized there.
During World War II the Germans set up a headquarters at Kosciuszko Manor. In 1944 partisans set fire to the manor and the castle: a 10-day fire left the palace walls bare. For a long time nobody was interested in the ruins of the castle.
In 2008 the restoration of the castle was started and it is expected to be completed in 2023-2025.
Kossov Castle will become a modern hotel and tourist complex.
Kossovský Chateau (Puslovský Palace in Kossovo)
The palace is still under reconstruction. Visiting: Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 – 18:00, daily in the summer. Tours are organized.
The Puslowski Palace, which many are used to call the Kossovsky Castle, is an architectural monument of the XIX century. It is located in the town called Kosovo, which is located in Belarus (not to be confused with Kosovo in the Balkans). The Puslovski Palace stands on a hill – from it you can admire breathtaking panoramas of the surroundings. The palace is currently under restoration.
UNESCO takes part in the restoration of its former appearance. The commission recognised the importance of the reconstruction. The organization has allocated 50 thousand dollars.
The restoration of Kossovsky Castle began in 2008. Since the fall of 2017, the castle began to receive visitors in several rooms. There is a small exhibit telling the history of Kossovsky Castle. The restoration of the facades and staircases is almost complete, the interior work is still in progress. In addition to the museum, a hotel, restaurant, conference room and even a registry office are already open in the Puslowski Palace of Belarus. The work inside the castle is still ongoing. We can see the active restoration process in the photo of Kossovsky Castle.
It is noteworthy that when you come here you can visit not only the castle itself – opposite the Puslowski Palace, on the lakeside there is a house-museum of famous Polish military and political leader Tadeusz Kosciuszko.
Opening Hours of Kossowski Castle
While the palace is under restoration, there is no clear opening hours. In the reviews, tourists write that if the palace is closed, you must go to the curator of the house-museum of Tadeusz Kosciuszko and ask to open Kossowski Castle. Naturally, this is only possible during the opening hours of the Kosciuszko estate. Now the days off are Monday and Tuesday, on the other days it is open from 10:00 to 18:00 (cashier to 17:45). From May to August the castle is open daily from 09:30 to 18:00.
For more information about the opening hours, please contact the administration of the Kosciuszko House Museum, or visit the official website of the Memorial Museum-Estate of T. Kosciuszko.
Ticket prices for the Puslowski House in Kosovo
The entrance ticket costs 10 Belarusian rubles. Preferential ticket (schoolchildren, students, pensioners) – 6 Belarusian rubles. Children under 7 years old are admitted free of charge. The visit is by yourself; guided tours to Kossovsky Castle are conducted only by appointment, but you should remember that the palace is under restoration and many rooms are closed to guests. Guide services for adult visitors will cost 20 Belarusian rubles, while for students and schoolchildren – 18 Belarusian rubles.
Keep in mind that you can only pay in cash, only Belarusian rubles. There are no terminals in the ticket offices yet.
Kossovsky Palace of the Puslowskis after restoration: panoramic view
In 1821 Kazimir Puslowski acquired vast lands in Kossov. First he founded a carpet factory there, and then in 1830 he ordered the construction of a luxurious palace. After Casimir’s death, the castle passed into the ownership of his son, Vandalin. At different times the Puslovskys’ guests included writer Vatslav Lastovsky, painter Napoleon Orda, writer Eliza Ozheshko and other famous personalities. Kazimir Puslovsky’s grandson, Leonard, sold the mansion for gambling debts. The palace was bought for 700 thousand rubles by the merchant Alexander and soon he resold it to the princess Trubetskoy. After her the Palace of the Puslovskys was owned by Princess Abomalek and Prince Oldenburgsky.
During the First World War the palace was looted – all the valuable objects of art disappeared: paintings, a collection of statues. The garden and greenhouses were destroyed. Until the XXI century only lilac and hawthorn bushes remained of the rich garden. Until 1939 the castle belonged to Poland. In September of that year, the Red Army occupied the castle. They stayed in the rooms of the palace until 1941.
There is a tragic history connected Kosovo with the period of World War II. Four ghettos were located on the grounds of the Puslowski Castle where the Jewish population of the town was gradually exterminated. The Nazis did not touch the palace itself, but in 1944 it suffered a major fire. It was organized by local partisans in order to drive away the Nazi army. The fire destroyed the rich furnishings of the castle and many of the rooms as a whole. Part of the walls collapsed, the palace was left without a roof.
After the war the lands of the Puslowski palace and Kossov were given to the forestry. Valuable orchard trees were cut down and the dilapidated castle was covered with planted pines.
At the time the palace was built, the most popular style was palace and park classicism. But the Puslowski Palace noticeably stood out for its Gothic antiquity. Such style is called “retrogothic”. In the first half of the 19th century, this style was considered a protest against the ideology of tsarist Russia.
The elevation, on which the palace stands, is artificially created. The total area of the palace and park ensemble is 40 ha. Observing symmetry, the palace itself, terraces, flowerbeds, walking alleys, lake with an island are placed on the territory.
The palace with faceted towers of different height sends guests back to the Middle Ages. Narrow loopholes, lancet arches, angular buttresses – all this reminds more of a defense structure than a country palace.
The castle was designed by the unknown architect Frantisek Jaszczold, while the more famous Marconi was directly involved in various construction works. The 12 towers were symbols of the months of the year, the palace itself and its grounds had over 130 rooms. The creation of the castle was not an easy process, the idea was that each room could bathe in the sun’s rays only 2-3 days, that was the idea of the chief architect.
Inside, all the passageways and windows were installed so as not to create obstacles to the rays of the sun, which illuminated the entire area of the building. If all legends are to be believed – when the so-called “day of this room” came – people rejoiced to see it illuminated by the sun and held entire celebrations on this occasion.
The palace halls were named after colors. The white hall was for pompous balls. The Black Hall was for games of chance. In the Pink Hall, music was listened to.
The park was designed according to Italian models of Renaissance gardens. In former times, more than 150 species of plants grew here. The rarest and most fanciful ones grew in a special greenhouse. Weeping willows grew along the banks of artificially created ponds. The territory of the palace was decorated with fountains, sculptures and pavilions.
One of the most popular legends tells about an unusual whim of the owners. Local residents told that at night the palace corridors were “patrolled” by a real lion.
Another legend about Kossovsky Castle says that from the palace there is a secret underground passage, leading to the residence of the Sapieha, which is located 20 km away. The secret passage is so wide that the castle owners used to ride through it in a horse-drawn carriage.
The most plausible legend (which is confirmed by some restorers), says that in the Parade Hall on the second floor there was a glass floor, like an aquarium. The space under the glass was filled with water, algae grew there and small fish swam.
There were also legends about the acoustics of the Puslowski Castle. It was said that if you clap your hands in the special hall on the second floor, you can hear a melodious echo.
How to get to Kossovsky Castle in Belarus
The Palace of the Puslovskys is located in Ivatsevichi district of Brest region of Belarus. The distance from Minsk is 220km. You need to take M1 highway to Kossovo. Then go past the village, following the signs turn right. Parking is free.
You can take intercity buses and local trains to Ivatsevichi. Then take a suburban bus to Kossovo.
You can call a cab from Ivatsevichi to Kossovo (distance about 20 km) through the local services, which are mostly IE. Phone numbers are easy to find on the Internet.