If you’re looking for a worthwhile outing from Gliwice, this jaw-dropping palace complex is only 25km away with a car journey time of merely 20 minutes thanks to its accessibility off the A4 highway. The village of Pławniowice dates back to 1317, but there’s little to suggest it was more than a scenic woodland next to a large lake before 1737 when it was bought by Franz Wolfgang von Stechow who built a residence there. In 1789 it passed through marriage to the Ballestrems, who built the magnificent palace that stands today between 1882-1885. Designed by Constantine Heidenreich of Kopice, the palace is a three-wing construction in the style of Dutch neo-mannerism (got an architectural reference book handy?), characterised by the contrast in colour and texture between the red brick walls and ornamental stone edging. The roofs are adorned with numerous turrets, towers, dormers and needles, and the entire site is surrounded by a carefully planned landscape park alongside a picturesque canal. In a word, dreamy. The palace remained the Ballestrem family seat until 1945 when it was abandoned due to the approach of the Red Army who dutifully destroyed the interiors and furniture. After the war it was put at the disposal of ecclesiastical authorities and the frequent changing of its use and occupants lead to its hastened deterioration. Since 1993 it has undergone steady renovation and today stands as one of the most outstandingly beautiful examples of residential architecture in Poland.
Tours of the interior are given on Sundays and Thursdays in Polish but if you call ahead they can arrange German as well; however the palace chapel, surrounding park and grounds are open year round and are a wonderful place to relax, as evidenced by the fact that Pławniowice is popularly used as a place of retreat. Accommodation (45 beds) and conference facilities are also available.