Branicki Palace

Top choice historic building in Białystok

This grand former residence of Jan Klemens Branicki is surrounded by Park Pałacowy. Though he lost to his brother-in-law Stanisław August Poniatowski in the 1764 royal elections, he built a luxurious palace on a scale to rival the king's. Burned down in 1944 by the retreating Germans, the exterior was restored to its 18th-century form, although the interior was largely modernised. The palace now houses a medical university, but you can learn more at two museums.

The manicured gardens are getting more elegant each year courtesy of EU development funds. They are free to enjoy and give Bialystok a whiff of Versailles. New exhibits in the palace museum in the basement outline the tortured history of the complex. Nearby, the Museum of the History of Medicine & Pharmacy has medical oddities on display and has a couple of rooms meant to evoke the lost beauty of the old palace.