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Świdermajer Style

Traditional Wooden Architecture in Poland

Świdermajer Style is unique to the area of Otwock - a summer destination on the outskirts of Warsaw, Poland. The style is named after Świder - a picturesque river that flows through this region. Characteristic, light wooden constructions with rich ornamental detail fit perfectly into the landscape of forested banks and sandy beaches.

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The story of Świdermajer buildings starts with famous painter and illustrator Elwiro Michał Andriolli who in 1880 bought a 202 hectares of land on the banks of river Świder. He designed and built fourteen wooden houses - one for himself and the rest as a rental for summer visitors. The specific style of his buildings inspired others when building their summer villas and sanatoriums in the area that in a meantime became a popular summer destination. The first sanatoriums and guest houses were built here in 1890 by Józef Marian Geisler, and in 1895 by Józef Przygoda. The greatest example of the "świdermajer" architecture has been built between 1906 and 1921 - the health resort belonging to Abram Gurewicz. The unusual 7-wing building was fitted with sewage, running water, electric lighting and a telephone. It had a lounge, a reading room, playroom, dining room and a concert hall. For many years, the building was one of the largest wooden buildings in Europe.

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The place was favoured by notables from the arts and science community in Warsaw. Many artists, writers or doctors had their summer houses in the area. Also, leaders of different religions had their residences here. Otwock was especially popular among the Jewish population - before the 2nd World War, at least a few Hasidic leaders had lived here permanently.  In 1936, a part of the then most eminent yeshiva was moved from Warsaw to a wooden villa that still exists today.

 

The architecture of these wooden villas, called by locals Świdermajery, is one of a kind and by many historians and architects treated as a separate style. The truth is, it is a very skilful mixture of three different styles: a local Masovian style, the Swiss Alps chalets, as well as the cottages of Tsarist Russia. This surprising combination makes these buildings one of the most important elements of the region's heritage.

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This public task is co-financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland as part of  "Public Diplomacy 2020 - a new dimension" programme.

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