No kidding, American buffalo roam free in Poland, well almost.

American buffalo roam in southern Poland

Let;s start with this fact. Michał, the eldest son of Stanisław, of the eminent Polish Popiel family made the decision to move his family to Poland 9 years ago to attend to the inheritance, the palace in Kurozwęki, and help in the restoration of the neglected estate. A  relatively recent development was that the place had become known for American bison breeding.

Michał Popiel de Boisgelin, born in 1977, still speaks Polish with difficulty, it is easier for him to communicate in English with his brother, and French is the primary language at home.

– I didn’t learn Polish – he explains his problems with the language of his ancestors. – People spoke English at home: my father was born in Brussels, my mother is Norwegian. Nobody thought that we would ever come back to Poland, to Kurozwęki. 🐎

Uncle says: come back

He knew his ancestral home from the stories of his beloved grandmother Irena, but the topic of returning appeared for the first time when he was 12 years old.

– I remember when Uncle Marcin visited us. It was 1989. He told his parents that he had started the procedure of regaining the property, the family palace. He argued that his father should come back and take care of it.

Uncle Marcin Popiel, Stanisław’s brother, the prelate priest, was then the parish priest in Szewna near Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski. A man of great heart, extremely noble and respected. Sometimes he visited his home town of Kurozwęki and watched with pain as his estate deteriorated. It was he who, after the political changes that took place in Poland, applied for the return of what the communists had taken from the Popiel family.

The first was Paweł

Until 1944, the Popiels owned the estate in Kurozwęki. They hosted a palace and a huge estate dating back to the 14th century.

The palace was built by the Kurozwęcki family, then it became the property of the Lanckoroński and Sołtyk family. The Popiels came here in 1833, when Paweł Popiel married Emilia Sołtykówna – Michał Popiel de Boisgelin recalls the story. – It was him, and then his son, who expanded and modernized the headquarters, developed the farm.

The ancestral nest survived the turmoil of war, although Stanisław Popiel, the head of the family, who was a soldier, spent the war in captivity in a German interment camp . After the end of hostilities, he did not return to Poland as communism took hold and landowners were disowned of their property.

– Grandma Irena managed to reach her husband, they lived in Belgium. Until 1947, only aunt Jadwiga stayed in Kurozwęki, it was she who saved family mementos, paintings, silverware and porcelain. She placed them with friends and acquaintances all over Poland. Everyone undertook to keep them and return them if any Popiel asked for them. Her dad had a notebook written with names and addresses. Thanks to the help of these people, it was possible to save them and gather them again in Kurozwęki.

thanks to Uncle Marcin’s efforts, the family regained the palace. The only person who could undertake the task of restoring the devastated palace and property was Stanisław’s son, born in Brussels, Marcin. And his son, Michał, also  decided to move to Poland with his family in order to save the family estate. 🐎🍺

 

Today, Kurozwęki Palace is an interesting tourist destination. It offers accomodations in the palace itself (do note there is still some renovation going on), the bufallo herds that roam on a vast fenced off area, horseback riding, a restaurant, and a recently built micro brewery & saloon. The pizza at the Brewery has bufallo meat as one of the standard toppings.

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