The beginnings of the castle in Sucha are connected with the person of Gaspar Castiglione, a Cracovian goldsmith of Italian origin, who in 1554 bought Sucha from Stanisław Słupski, and then received the Polish nobility together with the surname “Suski”, adopted from the name of this locality. It was probably Gaspar Castiglione-Suski who erected the first brick, two-storey fortified manor house in Sucha.
One of its subsequent owners was Piotr Komorowski, who enlarged it considerably in the first half of the 17th century, transforming the manor into a magnificent late Renaissance residence, modelled on the seat of Polish kings in Cracow, thanks to which it is commonly called ‘Small Wawel’. The castle also became the administrative centre of the complex of nobleman’s estates located west of the Skawa River in the valley of the Stryszawka River and its tributaries, henceforth called the ‘Suski State’. The next extension of the castle was made at the beginning of the 18th century by Anna Konstancja Wielopolska, 2nd voto Małachowska. From this period come, among others, two castle towers: south-eastern and south-western.
After the Suski, Komorowski and Wielopolski families, the next owners of the castle were the Branicki family. In 1845 the suski estate was purchased by Aleksander Branicki, whose name is associated with the collection of an extremely valuable and rich library and museum in the castle chambers, which was systematically expanded until the outbreak of World War II, when the last private owner of the castle, Juliusz Tarnowski, left the occupied country. Unfortunately, during the turmoil of war a significant part of the collection was destroyed and the rest was dispersed to various archives and libraries in Poland.
During the communist period the castle performed various functions, among others, it was the seat of a school. In the 1970s and 1980s, renovation and conservation work was begun to prepare the building for the planned opening of a branch of the State Art Collections in Wawel. This work was halted, and the castle continued to deteriorate until 1996, when it was taken over by the local authorities of Sucha Beskidzka. Since then, the castle area has completely changed its face, and the large-scale renovation works, intensified especially after the municipality finally bought the building from the heirs of the pre-war owners in 2016, meant that both the residence itself and its surroundings have regained their former splendour. Today, the castle houses the Sucha Beskidzka City Museum and the Higher School of Tourism and Ecology, as well as a hotel and a stylish restaurant.
The castle was built of broken stone and brick. Its three wings surround a rectangular courtyard. The easternmost part of the building is the remains of Gaspar Suski’s manor house. The two-storey southern wing is enclosed from the park by towers added to the main body in 1708. The fourth tower in the complex, situated in the corner of the western wing, also two-storeyed, is a quadrilateral clock tower, to which the northern, one-storey wing is adjoined (the rooms located here had a utility character). Both two-storey wings open into the courtyard with a beautiful two-storey arcaded gallery, which remains a symbol of the suski’s ‘Little Wawel’.
In the clock tower, on the first floor, there is a chapel which Piotr Komorowski dedicated to his patron. Fragments of the original polychrome from the beginning of the 17th century have been preserved here, depicting, in rectangular frames, scenes from the mysteries of the Holy Mass according to the life of Lord Jesus. The most representative and splendid castle chamber, the so-called Knights’ Hall, is located on the first floor of the west wing. It is embellished with a magnificent late-Renaissance sandstone fireplace with cartouches of Piotr Komorowski’s and his wife’s coats of arms cartouches (Korczak and Nowina coats of arms). It is one of the most interesting creations of this type in Poland.
The first floor of the south wing of the castle houses the Sucha Beskidzka City Museum. Visitors can see, among other things, exhibitions devoted to the history of the town and the region, archaeological finds recovered during the construction of an artificial reservoir on the Skawa River – Lake Mucharskie, as well as the collections donated to the Sucha Museum by the ‘Czartak’ Foundation of the E. Zegadłowicz Museum in Gorzeń Górny, in particular a valuable gallery of paintings and prints by Polish artists from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The park neighbouring the castle from the south has preserved its shape, mostly unchanged, from the first half of the 19th century, when the older park was given a form of a romantic landscape park with an artificially created pond over which a stone arcade bridge crosses. Attention is drawn to the brick building of the orangery, erected in the 1860s in English Neo-Gothic style in the place of an older predecessor, as well as to the nearby ‘Gardener’s House’, once part of a whole complex of buildings forming the administrative back-up facilities of the castle. It presents an ethnographic exhibition, created and run for many years by the Society of Lovers of the Suski Region, and currently forming part of the Municipal Museum. It depicts everyday life, material and spiritual culture of the inhabitants of this land – the Babia Góra and Żywiec Highlanders – from one hundred and more years ago (including the interior of a typical house, reconstruction of a shepherd’s hut, household tools, etc.).
Muzeum Miejskie Suchej Beskidzkiej
ul. Zamkowa 1, 34-200 Sucha Beskidzka
tel. 33 874 26 05
The Municipal Museum of Sucha Beskidzka
1 Zamkowa Street, 34-200 Sucha Beskidzka
tel. 33 874 26 05