Rzeszow Castle: History and Contemporaneity – proposal for a new interior adaptation

Kamila Gołąbek, Marek Gosztyła, Agata Mikrut-Kusy

Cite this article
Gołąbek, K., Gosztyła, M., Mikrut-Kusy, A. (2023) ‘Rzeszow Castle: History and Contemporaneity – proposal for a new interior adaptation’, Architecture Papers of the Faculty of Architecture and Design STU, 28(2), pp. 3-9. https://www.doi.org/10.2478/alfa-2023-0007



This paper discusses the adaptation of Rzeszow Castle in Rzeszow, Poland (also called the Castle of the House of Lubomirski in Rzeszow), which is a key building on the Subcarpathia’s map of monuments. The paper outlines the history of the castle as one of the city’s most important monuments. The characteristics of the building are then presented, with focus on its architectural value, and the current state of preservation of the monument is described. The current functional programme regarding the castle is also mentioned, as the aim of the future modification of the monument is to completely change the purpose for which the building is used: from an administrative and office space to a cultural facility with complementary functions.

The history of the construction of the castle located to the south of Rzeszow’s main square dates back to the early 17th century and the times of Mikolaj Spytek Ligeza (the owner of Rzeszow, who lived sometime around 1562-1637). After his death, the ownership of the castle was passed to the Lubomirski family and the castle received further extensions and underwent another modernisation based on a design by Dutch architect Tylman of Gameren (late 17th century). In the 18th century, another project to modernise the building was developed and supervised by architect Karol Henryk Wiedemann. The castle enjoyed a period of splendour in the middle of the 18th century. Then, as a result of the partition of Poland by neighbouring countries, the castle was taken over by Austrian authorities. The residence was used for new purposes as a court and a prison.

The current shape of the castle is the result of a reconstruction at the turn of the 19th and 20th century, in accordance with the conservation trends popular at the time. The project was commissioned to conservationist and architect Zygmunt Hendel.

Until the early 1980s, there was a functional prison within the castle walls. Today, the castle houses the District Court and, as a result, access to the castle and its bastions is restricted. The castle is awaiting an adaptation that will give more members of the public the opportunity to use the monument. Based on extensive analyses, a contemporary vision of a plan of use for the castle has been created, one that casts a new light on the opportunities that the Rzeszów palace complex can offer. The concept includes a complete relocation of the District Court to a new building, followed by the adaptive modification of the castle to enable contemporary functions, specifically those associated with culture, art and the promotion of local heritage. Therefore, the objective of the paper also included the elaboration of a contemporary design based on the current conservation concepts. The design focused on presenting possibilities for the future development of the castle space as a historical building.

The priority was to identify the latest trends in conservation art, and, subsequently, to create a proposal for a contemporary interior arrangement for the castle and its site development. The aforementioned design work focused on creating new, innovative concepts for the revalorization of historical buildings, oriented towards development and modernity. The work presents bold, novel – and most importantly – workable solutions for a new functional programme for Rzeszow Castle. The proposals presented in the paper are aligned with new principles of cultural environment preservation, and primarily emphasize ideas that facilitate the development of culture and art, social engagement, and support new initiatives.

Therefore, this new functional programme complements cultural facilities and events offered by the city of Rzeszow – the capital of the Subcarpathia Voivodeship (one of Poland’s sixteen provinces). The presented concept aims not only to bring out the architectural qualities of the castle, but also to introduce new solutions in the form of light illumination and elements of the so-called small architecture (e.g. contemporary benches) in the remodelling of the courtyard and the castle surroundings. The article also mentions other, earlier ideas for the adaptation of the castle’s premises, which, so far, have not been transformed into an architectural concept.

Keywords: heritage conservation, revalorization, architecture, culture, castle