Blog Article / 11 March 2021
Most remarkable castles of Lower Silesia in South-west Poland
The Lower Silesia region has been developed for tourists since the 17th century when the first wooden mountain huts for travelers were built in the Sudetes mountains. From that moment on, Silesia has been considered a picturesque and touristically attractive area, drawing visitors from all over Europe. According to rough estimates, there are about 400 castles and palaces in Lower Silesia. Today, they serve as hotels, schools, care centers, and research facilities. The majority of these places are now open to visitors. They have become popular tourist attractions, where you can discover their fascinating history, enjoy mesmerizing views, and have a great time!
Palace in Kamieniec Zabkowicki
The palace, often called the Pearl of Lower Silesia architecture, belonged to Dutch princess Marianna Oranska. She was married to Albrecht Hohenzollern – a Prince of Prussia, whom she divorced while the palace was being built. The construction took over thirty years. As a result, the palace was built so hugely that, as some claim, the already divorced Marianna never met her ex-husband there even when they both visited the Kamieniec residence at the same time! The palace was complemented by an impressive park. For its time, it was a very modern facility with gas lighting and the largest fountains in the world. It was decorated with ponds, pergolas, terraces, and caves. After World War 2, the building fell into ruin and was decaying at an alarming rate after being devastated and set on fire by the Soviet troops in 1946. The communists used the marble floors from the palace to build the Congress Hall of the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw. The reconstruction of the building has been carried out in recent years by the local community with great momentum and enthusiasm. The palace has been reborn from the ashes and now resembles its former glory.
The castle was built on an extinct volcano rising almost 400 meters above sea level. It was a stronghold of the Bobrzanie Slavic tribe. The present spatial layout of the castle was built in 1470 thanks to the prince of Legnica Frederic I. The majesty of one of the most beautiful Gothic-Renaissance residences in Silesia became its curse. For centuries it attracted new invaders. Charged with the costs of their maintenance, the inhabitants of the surrounding villages decided to remove the troublesome castle from the face of the earth, proceeding to its demolition. Fortunately, this goal was only partially achieved. In 1800, after the fragments of the ruins were secured and the main part was rebuilt and retrofitted, Grodziec became the first place in Europe adjusted specifically for tourists. A hundred years later, thanks to a thorough reconstruction, it regained its former glory. The museum was opened by Emperor Wilhelm II himself. The castle has preserved its touristic character to this day, offering not only sightseeing but also accommodation and organization of events.
In the southern part of the Lower Silesia region, there are two important Prussian fortresses - in Klodzko and Srebrna Gora - which are part of the line of fortifications built in the 18th century in the region, which at that time was occupied by Frederick the Great.
Although the history of the Klodzko fortifications dates back to at least the 16th century, it was the reconstruction of the fortress carried out during the Prussian rule that gave it the shape we know today. The undergrounds available to tourists include both tunnels drilled under the fortress, as well as corridors under the Old Town of Kłodzko, once used by the townspeople for storage, commercial, and, if necessary, defense purposes. Today these corridors form an interesting Underground Tourist Route.
Srebrna Gora was one of the most modern fortresses in 18th-century Europe, built from scratch on the orders of the Prussian king. Today you can visit the fort's crown, viewpoints, and courtyard, including casemates located underground.
If Bolko I the Raw looked at Ksiaz Castle today, it would have been difficult for him to believe that this magnificent residence was his ducal stronghold at the end of the 13th century. The fact that it was once a medieval fortress seems to be remembered only by its defensive location – it is situated in the Pelcznica river bend and surrounded by a gorge with dense forest. At the beginning of the 17th century, the castle became the hereditary property of the Hochberg family, who expanded and renovated it in baroque style. Nowadays, tourists can visit the impressive castle and its undergrounds, as well as wonderful French gardens, stables, and palm house. Within the Ksiaż Landscape Park, you can go to the arboretum - the Sudety Dendrological Garden with remarkable examples of exotic trees and bushes, or to the Przelomy pod Ksiazem nature reserve with a wide variety of flora and fauna.
Moreover, a trip to the south along the Książ Gorge is a chance to find a second, slightly forgotten castle with an extremely interesting and romantic history. Stary Książ, as it is used to be said about this place, was built at the end of the 18th century on the ruins of the Piast castle. The Reich Count Hans Heinrich von Hochberg succumbed to romantic trends so much that next to the new gothic castle with a tournament square, he had fragments of artificial ruins created. The peak of the fame of this place was probably the knightly tournament of 1800, which was watched by the king of Prussia, Frederick William III. Unfortunately, although before World War 2, the castle was even featured on postcards, it was blown up in 1945. Artificial ruins turned into real ones, and the object permanently moved into the shadow of its more magnificent neighbor.
If you have a feeling of deja vu when you look at the photo of the Kliczkow Castle, it is justified. It is an impressive complex, referring in its form to famous French castles. Although the nearby river Kwisa is far from the Loire, the object itself has nothing to be ashamed of and could successfully compete with its prototypes. Initially, a border stronghold stood here, which, together with similar fortresses, was to protect the dukedoms of Swidnica and Jawor. However, soon, in the 14th century, the building changed its character to a farm. Successive governing families, including the particularly distinguished Rechenbergs, expanded the castle and adapted it to the changing times. At the end of the 19th century, the complex obtained its present shape. Surrounded by a huge, eighty-hectare English-style park, it was a trendy place which the elites of the German aristocracy flocked to. Nowadays, the castle itself has been transformed into Conference and Leisure Center. The most interesting part of the complex is, undoubtedly, a horse cemetery! Today, you can see only two surviving tombstones, but there used to be a dozen or so of them.
On the top of Choina Hill, as if guarding the border between the Owl and Walbrzyskie Mountains, the beautifully situated Grodno Castle rises. In its case, history is mixed with a legend so that it is often difficult to separate one from the other. Probably its first owner was Bolko I, although there is no certain evidence of this. The fact is that, like other nearby castles, it fell into the hands of the Czech Crown by the Piast dynasty. When it was taken over by knightly families, the gloomy fame of the robbers' castle grew around it for over a hundred years. The further history of Grodno was no less turbulent. The building was passed from hand to hand, expanded, destroyed, and burned down. Over time, it lost its strategic importance. In the end, it fell into decline so that the local peasants decided to buy it to obtain building material for sale after the demolition. Grodno Castle owes its rescue to Professor Jan Gustaw Büschnig from Wroclaw. After 1824, the building was protected against further destruction, and the next generations gave it a tourist character.
Author: Lower Silesian Tourist Organization
Posted on: 11th March 2021
Photos come from the collection of Lower Silesian Tourist Organization
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