1. Krzyżtopór Palace, Ujazd
For ages now, no ball has been held here. Even though this ballroom solely exists in collective memory, it continues to stir the imagination of many. Krzyżtopór Palace is a humongous structure which was built by the Polish nobleman Krzysztof Ossoliński in the years 1620 - 1644. It was, supposedly, the biggest palace in Europe of its time. However, it did not enjoy its glory days for long –it was pillaged by the Swedes in 1657. By the mid-17th century, it was effectively a ruin. This notwithstanding, it continues to capture the imagination. Its exuberant interiors included a two-storey ballroom with an adjacent dining room. The latter, allegedly, had a huge fish tank for a ceiling, which meant that ornamental fish actually swam above the ball-goers heads!
2. Lubiąż Abbey
One wouldn’t commonly look for a lush ballroom in an abbey. The Prince’s Hall, however, was used as a venue for glamourous balls. It is one of Poland’s most precious Baroque landmarks. Built in the late 17th century, it is located in the northern part of the monastery complex; its interior decorating continued into the 18th century.
The abbey's enormous ballroom is lusciously decorated and includes sculptures and reliefs by Franz Joseph Mangoldt. His figures of an African and an Indian flank the entryways, while Atlas holds up the music balcony. There are also sculptures of three Habsburg emperors, allegories of cardinal virtues, as well as personifications of Europe, Asia, America and Africa. The ballroom's vault is decorated with a large format plafond (24x14 m), painted by Christian Bentum, depicting ‘the triumph of the Catholic faith over heresies and infidels'. The abundant iconography was designed by Konstanty Beyer and was meant to praise the Catholic faith and the Habsburg empire. Today, this magnificent ballroom is the venue for concerts, such as those during the international Wratislavia Cantans festival.
3. Malbork Castle
While gloomy Teutonic Knights may not have been keen on staging posh balls, they certainly had suitable venues for it. Suitable in size, architecture and décor. Take the Great Refectory, for instance, where the Knights hosted their guests. It was built in the 1330s, and its Gothic character has been preserved. It's the biggest hall in the Malbork castle (its dimensions are: 15x30x9m), which 14 large arched windows. Its raw décor is topped by a spectacular palm vaulting held up by three slender columns.
4. Książ Castle, Wałbrzych
The third largest castle in Poland. Its history stretches all the way back to the 13th century. It was at the behest of the Bolko I The Strict, Prince of Świdnica and Jawor, that the castle was erected. It was the Hochberg family, however, who gave the edifice its distinctively Baroque character at the beginning of the 18th century. It was then that an extension was added to the complex. It houses Maximilian’s hall, one of the best preserved Baroque banquet rooms in Silesia.
The marble fireplaces and crystal mirrors are not the only things that will take your breath away. The Greek mythology-inspired plafond was designed by Antoni Felix Scheffler, who was joined by a cohort of moulding, stone and marble experts to create it. Today, this huge two-storey ballroom is available for use for balls or weddings as Książ Castle is currently a hotel.
5. Royal Castle, Warsaw
The Great Assembly Room might look familiar to a Polish eye, as very often important state celebrations, concerts and conferences are held here. Just imagine you are back in the 18th century at a lavish ball held under a plafond designed by Marcell Baciarelli, grand candelabras and surrounded by gold stucco. It was in this 321-square-metre ballroom that Poland's King Stanisław August Poniatowski held numerous lavish parties. Designed in the late 17th century by Dominik Merlin and Johann Christian Kammsetzer, it was demolished during World War II and meticulously rebuilt after the war thanks to existing photographs of the castle.
6. Palace on the Isle, Warsaw
King Stanisław August Poniatowski is commonly remembered as an art lover, who organised countless parties to honour artists. Most of these events were organised in the king's park estate, Łazienki (Royal Baths Park). The royal architect Johann Christian Kammsetzer turned a park pavilion into a neoclassicist palace. In 1778, a ceremonial ballroom was created in the palace. While the Royal Castle’s ballroom is richly decorated, its counterpart in Łazienki Park has a subtler décor, dominated by lighter colours. It is additionally adorned with faux-ancient sculptures and frescos by Bogumił Plersch. The ballroom’s biggest asset is its large windows, opening the space onto the surrounding park.
7. Łańcut Castle
When initially built between 1629 and 1642 by Stanisław Lubomirski, the Łańcut Castle was a palazzo in fortezza type of residence. It was in the 18th century, that the owner of the town, Izabela née Czartoryska, decided to strip the building of its fortifications and bastions and surrounded it with a garden complex. The interior design changed dramatically as well. It was at that time that a ballroom was added.
Today, it is considered as one of the most breathtaking ballrooms in Poland. It was designed by Chrystian Piotr Aigner, a prominent classicist architect. Its elaborate mouldings were designed by Fryderyk Bauman. The elegant forms of the antique-inspired architecture are complemented by his subtle stucco decorations and grand crystal chandeliers.
8. Machine Hall at EC1, Łódź
Looking for something a bit more modern? Fancy a ball in a factory? The monumental Machine Hall is the place for you! It's part of the postindustrial cultural centre EC1 Łódź, which opened in a former CHP plant. The complex underwent a deep metamorphosis, turning from an old run down factory into a modern science centre (Centre for Science and Technology opened in January this year) and an important cultural spot (The National Centre for Film Culture and The Centre for Comic Books and Interactive Narrative are to be launched in the next few years).
There are also spaces in which one can organise a conference or a banquet. The biggest one, Machine Hall, boasts huge windows and staircases adorned with beautiful railings. And above all, it will charm you with its unique postindustrial atmosphere.
9. The International Conference Centre, Katowice
Gold-plated candelabras or crystal mirrors may not be everybody’s thing. Enthusiasts of more contemporary architecture should think of inviting their guests to a ball at The International Conference Centre in Katowice. Erected in 2015, this award-winning building, designed by JEMS Architekci, is a conference, congress and concert venue. Squeezed in next to the iconic Spodek, the modern complex houses various spaces, including a ballroom. It boasts a separate entrance, its own foyer and can fit approximately 1000 guests. Although its raw décor can’t compete with Baroque splendour, it will certainly appeal to modern architecture aficionados.
10. Wieliczka Salt Mine
We tend to hear the word ‘ballroom’ and instantly imagine posh balls in palaces or castles. Less obvious places, however, do have something to offer as well. Why not hold your grand ball underground?
The Wieliczka Salt Mine opened in the 13th century and, up until 2007, it was one of the world's oldest salt mines in operation. In the 19th century, the Warsaw Chamber was opened after 20 thousand tons of salt were excavated there. The chamber is located 125 metres under ground and is approximately 630 square metres large, with a ceiling that is 6,5 metres high – it can sit up to 700 guests.
A great venue for balls, weddings or banquets, it is available for rent for both companies and private parties. Bonus: although the chamber itself dates back to the 19th century, the Warsaw Chamber is equipped with cutting-edge technology.
Originally written in Polish, translated by MS, March 2018