Surrounded on three sides by Lake Zurich, the castle is a view to behold. Built in the shape of a triangle, each corner is defended by a mighty tower. Perched on a high hill, it rises above the medieval Old Town – an ancient beacon on the lake. Over the centuries, the castle had many owners as the tides of history changed. It also had a stint as a military base and prison before falling into disrepair in the 1800s. And that is when the Polish connection happened.A prominent Polish émigré, Count Wladyslaw Broel-Plater, came to Switzerland some years after a failed Polish pro-independence uprising in 1830. In 1870, he leased the Rapperswil Castle – by then in serious need of repair – and restored it at his own expense. Thanks to generous donations from his compatriots, he was able to assemble a collection of art, books, and memorabilia that formed the Polish National Museum. As Broel-Plater put it, the Museum was to provide “a refuge for [Poland’s] historic memorabilia dishonored and plundered in the [occupied] homeland” – and so it did for decades to come. In 1927, nine years after Poland regained independence, the Museum’s collection was moved to Warsaw in accordance with the Count’s will. It took 14 railroad cars to transport 3,000 pieces of art, 2,000 memorabilia, 20,000 engravings, 9,000 coins and medals, and almost 120,000 books and manuscripts. Unfortunately, most of them were destroyed in WWII. Meanwhile, with brief hiatuses, the Museum continues to serve as a repository for Polish art and history – a little piece of Poland on the shores of Lake Zurich. The latest threat to its existence came in 2008 when some Rapperswil residents petitioned to evict the Museum from the castle, deeming it too expensive. The Museum has been conducting a petition campaign – so far successful – to keep the Museum in its home. But there is more to Rapperwsil than the Museum. First, there is this view from the top of the castle hill: Then there is the Capuchin Friary (Kapuzinerkloster), located just below the castle. The monastery dates back to 1606. Its stone walls offer a welcome respite in summer heat, and its beautiful rose gardens contribute to Rapperswil’s reputation as the “town of roses” (Rosenstadt), with 15,000 rose bushes of 600 different kinds. Inhale… The last Rapperswil ferry is about to depart – time to catch the westward “sunset cruise” back to Zurich! No worries if you missed it though, you can take a train =)
Beautiful photos! Oh, they really make me yearn for Europe.
Thank you so much!
I always liked hidden gems like that. This is the Europe that attracts real travellers 🙂 You must be very lucky to see this place.
I agree, hidden gem places are the best =)