The Panorama of the Battle of Racławice
The Panorama of the Battle of Racławice is among one of the very few places in the world where it is possible to admire a relic of 19th century popular culture. This huge canvas (15 × 114 m), owing to a unique combination of the painters’ technical skills (a special perspective) and purely technical means (lighting, artificial yet realistic surroundings, and the winding, deliberately darkened approach to the display) ‘transport’ the visitors into a different reality and time.
This monumental painting commemorating the historic battle of Racławice was meant to be the star attraction during the General National Exposition organized in the city of Lwów [now Lviv in Ukraine] in 1894. Jan Styka, who conceived the idea of the Panorama and was its co-creator, thought that the battle with its victorious outcome would provide the most meaningful tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Kościuszko Insurgence and pay respect to the heroes defending their country on the eve of the final partition treaty of Poland. He was absolutely correct in his convictions because from the very day of its opening on 5 June 1894, the Panorama became the must-see point on the tourist map of Lwów and, almost a hundred years later, of Wrocław.
Both the subject of the painting and its form created a stimulating attraction for the contemporary viewers. At the end of the 19th century panoramas were a highly popular form of entertainment, comparable to the 3D cinema of today. A very different perspective and the illusionary qualities of the picture made a strong impression and the audiences were willingly ‘swept away’ into a different world created by the artists, and almost became the participants in those events. All this, affects the views of modern observers differently, one who is accustomed with the sophisticated effects obtained with modern technologies, causing them to approach the great canvas and contemplate its appeal. While visiting the Wrocław rotunda housing, the first and only surviving Polish artefact of its kind, we can attempt to find our own answer to this question.
The Small Rotunda
The special purpose-built room showcases the presentation of the historical aspects of the Battle of Racławice. The entrance is located next to the viewing platform.
The multi-media presentations providing more detailed knowledge about the Panorama of the Battle of Racławice, the artists who created it, and its convoluted history.
The Main Hall
In the area of the Main Hall there are annexes located in the split-level bays in the south wall, which contain for example a three-dimensional map marking the military campaign of the Kościuszko Insurgency from Kraków through Racławice, Szczekociny, Połaniec, Warsaw to Maciejowice.