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Our history

Justus (Jost, Jodok) Ludvig Dietz came to Krakow in 1508. Soon, he became one of the most influential people in the city. Justus Ludovicus Decius, as this is how the Alsatian started to be called in Poland, was a protégé of his compatriot, Jan Jacob Boner, a royal banker, the founder and manager of the largest commercial empire in contemporary Europe, i.e. the Wieliczka and Bochnia salt mines. Through his positions as secretary, bookkeeper and trusted deputy, Decius quickly became a consummate diplomat, practised financier and a highly positioned royal dignitary. A secretary of King Sigismund I the Old since 1520, and soon his advisor and the principal of crown mints, due to many talents, literary and historical dissertations, many journeys and scientific predilections, he enjoyed the respect and friendship of the most outstanding European humanists. He knew Martin Luther and Erasmus of Rotterdam. He also maintained close contacts with the Habsburg court.

1528

Justus Ludovicus Decius the Older purchased parts of Przegorzały and Wola Chełmska villages near Kraków. The Villa construction commenced.

1535

The Villa construction completed (known later as the Villa Decius). Its design followed the example of fashionable estates near Florence and Rome, being places of meetings, rest and philosophical debates. Most probably, the Villa had an almost square plan and a three-axis interior layout, with a pass-through entryway in the central axis, used as a “grand hall.” There is no information on the original coping of this building.

1545

Following the death of Justus Decius, the estate was inherited by his son, Jost Ludovicus Decius the Younger. In this period the followers of religious innovation, the disciples of Luther and Calvin, found the atmosphere of tolerance and freedom at Villa Decius.

1590

Following a sudden and childless death of a brother and two daughters of Just Ludovicus Decius the Younger, the estate was purchased by Sebastian Lubomirski.

1635

Villa was rebuilt by Stanislaus, son of Sebastian Lubomirski. The Villa style followed a Mannerist and Early Baroque style, becoming one of the best Polish examples of architecture inspired by Sebastiano Serlio and Andreo Palladio. The 16th-century building core was used, with the second floor added and the villa enriched with a new facade solution, shaped as a three-floor, five-span arcade loggia, spanning between two corner extensions. The villa body was covered by a high pitched roof, and the turrets with onion-shaped roofs. Basically, the Villa has retained this shape until today. Surrounding the Villa with slightly decorative bastions was of high importance for the new impression made by it.

1720

The Villa was taken over by Sanguszko dukes (as a dowry of Marianna Lubomirska).

1722

The Villa renovation, combined with providing more Baroque interiors (e.g. the decorative painting with Rococo motifs in the former entryway on the first floor) and works related to changing the park composition to correspond to the Baroque fashion. Those were the last major works in the Villa in the 17th century.

mid-18th century

The Villa was purchased by Andrzej Morzkowski, a provincial royal official in Barcice and later it passed into the hands of the Wielowiejski Family.

1819

The Villa was taken over by Jan Ledóchowski, a Member of Parliament in the Kingdom of Poland (as a dowry of countess Joanna Ledóchowska nee Wielowiejska).

1836

The Villa was reconstructed by Joanna Ledóchowska nee Wielowiejska. It was deprived of its Mannerist and Baroque properties by removal of the onion-shaped roofs on the loggia turrets and replacing them by more “Italian” balustrade attics. The turret reconstruction was accompanied by moving a staircase from one of them to a new location in the building body, where it has been so far. An important novelty was the demolition of the Mannerist bastions and balustrades to change the composition of the Villa as a building engrossed in the park vegetation. From now on the vegetation was to face the front loggia directly. The palace park was transformed in line with the Romantic English establishment with an irregular plan of vegetation and paths.

1844

The Villa was taken over by Aleksander Kiełczewski who in 1844 sold it to Henrietta (Henryka) Ewa nee Ankwicz primo voto Sołtykowa, secundo voto Kuczkowska and her husband Kazimierz. Henrietta Kuczkowska nee Ankwicz arranged the Villa as a museum palace, with a collection of furniture and masterpieces of art, primarily tapestries. Walls were decorated with Classicist polychromies and the ceiling in the ground floor entryway with stuccoes. Interiors could be visited when the owners were absent.

1867

The Villa was purchased by Marcelina and Aleksander Czartoryski.

1880

The Villa redecoration by Marcelina Czartoryska turned it into a museum palace with historical fit-out again.

1882

Fire and reconstruction of the Villa. The building was enriched with a collection of oriental tiles and lapidarium collections, discovered partially during the reconstruction and displayed in loggias on the first and second floor. A Neo-Renaissance facade was inspired by the Italian mature Renaissance. The turrets at the front loggia lost their balustrade attics and were covered by low hipped roofs. Indoors, a new, important component became an impressive Neo-Baroque wooden stairway replacing the one built under countess Ledóchowska. The stairway exists today and the Villa architecture received the shape preserved until our times. The Czartoryskis furnished the Villa interior with stylish furniture, paintings and ancient monuments coming from archaeological excavations. In the times of Marcelina Czartoryska, the Villa became the leading salon in the city, the mainstay of patriotism and Polishness.

1918

The Villa was bought by a financial company called “Wola Justowska” which intended to open an elegant boarding house there. This project was not implemented throughout the Interwar Period.

1934

The Villa was entered in the Register of Monuments which served to confirm its status.

World War II

The Villa became headquarters of the German police. After the war, it housed a school for auditors of co-operatives, a dormitory and a tuberculosis ward of the Dr. Anka Hospital.

1970s

The building fell into complete ruin. The process of buying the Villa back for the Treasury and of systematic scientific studies started, being a stage preceding the conservation design development.

1990

Handing the Villa over to the Municipality of Krakow.

1991

During the symposium of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) devoted to the “European Heritage Protection), dr Karl Dedecius, in the name of the German representatives, requested creation of the centre of dialogue over the European Cultural Heritage based on the Decius palace in Wola Justowska in Krakow.

1993

Resolution of the City Council of Krakow awarding the cultural and scientific function to the Villa.

1996

Villa Decius Association started its activity in the palace.

1990-2000

The conservation repair of the Villa and the old outbuilding as well as erection of the new outbuilding, the so-called “Erasmus House”.

2019

Villa Decius Institute for Culture started its activity in the palace.
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