WWII palace built as summer residence for Nazi monster to be transformed into luxury 5-star hotel
A WWII castle that was gifted to Holocaust monster Heinrich Himmler as an SS sanatorium has been turned into a luxury 5-star hotel.
Known at the time as Schloss Wartenberg, it was constructed as a summer residence for senior SS officer Otto von Wachter, the governor of the Kraków District in Hans Frank's General Government.
However, the grandiose project was later reimagined as a convalescence home for SS soldiers when Wachter was shunted to Galicia as Hitler's "best man on the spot".
Perched high on hills above the Vistula, Przegorzały is an idyllic location banking the Vistula about 5 km from the Kraków’s market square.
It was there that the pre-war Wawel Castle heritage protection chief Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz designed and built a unique villa for himself.
During the German occupation, Szyszko-Bohusz's residence, which he called Odyniec, was taken over by Otto von Wächter, an Austrian Nazi who served as the governor of the Kraków district for the first two years of the occupation.
It was he who put into effect Szyszko-Bohusz’s pre-war plan to extend the property with a three-story neo-Gothic-style castle extension.
According to the architect, the decision to seize his home may have been a conflict with Wächter's wife, who had demanded that Szyszko-Bohusz go with her to Warsaw to hunt down art for her to steal.
The professor refused, which led to his arrest by the Gestapo in December 1939 and a series of harassments, including the loss of the property.
Wächter brought in two architects from Austria to work on the design: Richard Pfob and Hans Petermair, but Szyszko-Bohusz was eventually included in the work.
Styled on Rhineland castles of the Romantic period, the design for the building was created in 1941, and work began the following year.
However, Otto von Wächter was soon relocated to Lwów, and the already advanced construction stood empty for a long time.
Next to the castle, several other structures were designed and built which still exist today, including a guardhouse at the entrance gate and a garage and guardhouse building.
On 9 November 1943, during Heinrich Himmler's visit to Krakow, Hans Frank gifted him the castle as a sanatorium for SS men. Just one year and two months after it opened, Kraków was occupied by the Russians.
After the end of the war, the complex housed a hospital, and in 1948 the complex of buildings was taken over by the state.
In 1952, it was handed over to the Forest Research Institute. Then, since the early 1970s, the building has been occupied by the Jagiellonian University's Institute of European Studies.
After 1989, the Bohusz family tried to get the villa back, but to no avail.
Since the 1980s, the castle has housed the U Ziyada restaurant, which features a large terrace offering stunning views of the Vistula river,
In early summer this year, another chapter in the building’s history will be added in the form of the 37-room, 5-star spa Hotel U Ziyada.