Bachelor Living, Donnersmarck Style

No, this is not going to be about how Poland is chock-full of beautiful women just waiting for foreign attention. If you’re into that kind of sleazy advertising, look elsewhere, because this will be about architecture.

There is a word in Polish that describes a small, bed-sitting room apartment kawalerka, literally “bachelor’s flat,” the idea being that bachelors need just a place to crash and – possibly – take a shower. This approach is not new, however, and some time ago it was executed with quite a bit of style, especially by the aristocracy.

Southern Poland, in Silesia, is a town called Świerklaniec

Out in the Southern Poland, in Silesia, is a town called Świerklaniec. Nowadays a normal Polish town, it used to be part of the lands owned by the von Donnersmarck family, and it was there that the 19th century German magnate Guido (actually Guido Georg Friedrich Erdmann Heinrich Adalbert Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck – isn’t that a cool name?) built a palace for his wife that was so elegant and opulent and costly (the palace, not the wife, although this description is quite appropriate for the wife, too) that it was called “The Little Versailles”. The palace itself has been destroyed in 1945 by the Red Army, but the park remains, and in the park, the so-called “Bachelor’s House” (Pałac Kawalera, or Kavaliershaus) – a splendid neo-baroque villa that was, essentially, the equivalent of a bed-sitting room for a young (male) magnate of the era. To fulfill that function, it was furnished with a fully operative central heating (this was in 1903, so wow), hardwood floors of polished oak and a lot of marble. Oh, and American bathtubs, for some reason. Shipping bathtubs in 1903 must have been fun.

Most inhabitants of Świerklaniec are still sad about the loss of the “Little Versailles” – which is said to have been truly wonderful – but they have the park and the Bachelor’s Villa to console them. If you ever want to feel like an aristocrat rich beyond imagination, a stroll through the Świerklaniec Park and lunch in the Bachelor’s Villa (now a small hotel and restaurant) is a good idea.

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