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Introducing Rogalin

The tiny village of Rogalin, 12km west of Kórnik, was the seat of yet another Polish aristocratic clan, the Raczyński family, who built a palace here in the closing decades of the 18th century, and lived in it until WWII. Plundered but not damaged during the war, the palace was taken over by the state. In 1991, Count Edward Raczyński, who had been Polish ambassador to Britain at the outbreak of WWII and a leading figure in the Polish government in exile, confirmed the use of the palace as a National Museum branch.

Less visited than Kórnik’s castle and much more Germanic in its appearance, the Rogalin palace consists of a massive, two-storey, Baroque central structure and two modest symmetrical wings linked to the main body by curving galleries, forming a giant horseshoe around a vast forecourt. Within the main house you can peruse an exhibition on the history of the palace and the Raczyński family, and see an exact replica of the London study of Count Raczyński. Entry to the main building involves a compulsory tour; English-language tour guides can be organised in advance for 85zł.

Just beyond the left wing is the Gallery of Painting (Galeria Obrazów), an adapted greenhouse displaying Polish and European canvases from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Polish collection includes some first-class work, with Jacek Malczewski best represented. The dominant work, though, is Jan Matejko’s Joan of Arc.

In the coach house, near the front courtyard, are a dozen old coaches, including Poznań’s last horse-drawn cab, and a restaurant.

Opposite the main house is a small French garden, which leads into the larger English landscaped park, originally laid out in primeval oak forest. Not much of the park’s design can be deciphered today, but the ancient oak trees are still here, some of them centuries old. The three most imposing specimens have been fenced off and baptised with the names Lech, Czech and Rus, after the legendary founders of the Polish, Czech and Russian nations.

One more place to see is the chapel, on the eastern outskirts of the village, built in the 1820s to serve as a mausoleum for the Raczyński family. It’s a replica of the Roman temple known as the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, southern France.