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Frontpage News 2009 15th century castle opened to the public


15th century castle opened to the public

Zywiec municipality in Poland has restored its 15th century old castle and the adjacent Habsburg Park in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute of Cultural Heritage Research, forming the basis for a new cultural tourism product and providing local residents with a new meeting place.

The last restoration of the castle was carried out in 1850, and the building has been deteriorating rapidly over the last decades with the walls close to collapsing. The infrastructure of the adjacent 26 ha Habsburg Park, an English-style landscape garden with a Chinese pavilion, was also in dire need of renovation.

Thanks to €2.3 million in support from the EEA Grants, the castle and the adjacent Habsburg Park have now been preserved for future generations. Several rooms in the castle's main building, as well as its eastern annexes, stables and cart house have been restored, thus opening the premises for the public and creating a new exhibition space for the Zywiec town museum. This new exhibition space will form the basis for a new cultural tourism product, "From Komorowski to Habsburg – Zywiec Culture and Tradition Vault", focusing on local history.

Zywiec is located in the Beskidy mountains region in Southern Poland, close to the Czech and Slovak borders. The region is a popular destination for cross-border tourism, and the municipality of Zywiec hopes the restored castle complex and Habsburg Park will help spur economic development of the area and attract domestic and foreign tourists.

Positive for tourism
At a conference marking the concluded renovations on 7 November, Norway’s Ambassador to Poland Enok Nygaard underlined the role protection of cultural heritage can play in spurring economic development: "It is my hope that the restored castle and park will attract an increasing number of tourists and that the experience for the tourists will be even better and more interesting than before", the Ambassador said.

Polish-Norwegian cooperation
The Norwegian Institute of Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) has been involved in developing the documentation of the building and the park and in working out guidelines for preservation and planning for future use. Leidulf Mydland, Head of NIKU’s Department of Buildings, praised the cooperation with Zywiec municipality as fruitful and interesting. "The dialogue has been very interesting and exciting, and we hope our contributions have not only helped preserve the old castle complex and the Habsburg Park, but also given a possibility to use this area in a new way," Mydland said.

The restoration of the old castle complex and the Habsburg Park in Zywiec has been featured in a separate broadcast on Program 3 of the Polish Radio. Listen to the broadcast (in Polish).