Castles and fortifications in Poland

Niedzica Castle

Niedzica Castle, also known as Dunajec Castle, was erected between the years 1320 and 1326 by Kokos of Brezovica on the site of an ancient stronghold surrounded by earthen walls in the Pieniny mountains. The Niedzica Castle stands at an altitude of 566 m, on a hill 300 m upstream from the Dunajec River mouth. The outline of Niedzica Castle can best be viewed from the ruins of Czorsztyn Castle on the other side of the lake ...
Founded: 1320-1326 | Location: Niedzica, Poland

Pieskowa Skala Castle

Pieskowa Skała castle, built by King Casimir III the Great, is one of the best-known examples of a defensive Polish Renaissance architecture. It was erected in the first half of the 14th century as part of the chain of fortified castles called Orle Gniazda (Eagles Nests). The castle was renovated and donated in 1377 by king Louis I of Hungary to Piotr Szafraniec of Łuczyce, according to a more modern interpreta ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Sułoszowa, Poland

Niepolomice Castle

The Niepolomice Royal Castle is a Gothic castle from the mid-14th century and rebuilt in the late Renaissance style. The Niepolomice Castle was built by order of King Casimir III the Great on the slope of the Vistula valley, to serve as a retreat during the hunting expeditions to the nearby Niepolomice Forest. The castle consisted of three towers, buildings in the southern and eastern wing, and curtain walls around the c ...
Founded: c. 1350 | Location: Niepolomice, Poland

Kwidzyn Castle

Kwidzyn contains the partially ruined 14th century Brick Gothic Ordensburg castle of the Teutonic Order, namely the Bishops of Pomesania within the Order. Connected to the castle to the east is a large cathedral (built 1343-1384) containing the tombs of the bishops as well those of three Grand Masters of the Teutonic Knights. The former Prussian fortress in Kwidzyn, which was occupied by the Teutonic Knights in 1233, rec ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Kwidzyn, Poland

Wolf's Lair

Wolf"s Lair (Wolfsschanze) was Adolf Hitler"s first Eastern Front military headquarters in World War II. The complex, which would become one of several Führer Headquarters located in various parts of occupied Europe, was built for the start of Operation Barbarossa - the invasion of the Soviet Union - in 1941. It was constructed by Organisation Todt. The top secret, high security site was in the Masurian wo ...
Founded: 1941 | Location: Kętrzyn, Poland

Leczyca Castle

The Łęczyca Royal Castle was erected by Casimir III the Great as a fortification during 1357–1370. Immediately after its completion, the Castle became a residence of king, and then was the seat of the governor of Łęczyca. In 1406 it was burned by the Teutonic Knights and rebuilt in the following years to serve as a place of a conference in 1409, where decisions were taken in connection with the approaching war with ...
Founded: 1357-1370 | Location: Łęczyca, Poland

Bolków Castle

Bolków Castle is located in Bolków on the Castle Hill (Wzgórze Zamkowe), with a 396 metres, where the hillside is cut by the Nysa Szalona river, with a sharp precipice (with a sudden drop of 90 metres); the eastern side of the hill gradually lowers, taken up by the town. The castle is an upland stronghold, covering an area of 7600 m². First mentions of the castle come from 1277, from the time of the reign of Boles³a ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gmina Bolków, Poland

Baranów Sandomierski Castle

Baranów Sandomierski Castle is one of the most important Mannerist structures in the country. The castle is commonly known as the 'little Wawel'. Originally a residency of the Lubomirski family, it now serves as a historical museum, hotel and conference centre. The castle was built around the years 1591–1606 in the style of Poland"s Mannerism with richly decorated attics, side towers and arcade courtyar ...
Founded: 1591-1606 | Location: Baranów Sandomierski, Poland

Fort Legionow

Fort Legionow was built between 1852 and 1854 on the southern foreland of the Warsaw Citadel. Initially, the fort had the shape of a three-storey artillery turret, surrounded by a fortified ditch with three cofferdams and a gallery in the counterscarp. Its task was to guard the citadel from the side of the New Town and also to defend the seasonal bridge over the Vistula River. In the years between 1866 and 1874 the fort ...
Founded: 1852 | Location: Warsaw, Poland

Gniew Castle

The Order of Brothers of the German House Saint Mary In Jerusalem took possession on the land of Gniew in 1283. Based on the law of Che³mno in 1297 the city stood next to the Teutonic castle built to the pattern of convent castles. The monumental silhouette along with the church of St. Nicholas is still constitute the characteristic dominant of the southern panorama of Gniew. The Gniew Castle was the most powerful claim ...
Founded: 1290 | Location: Gniew, Poland

Grodno Castle

Grodno Castle (formerly Kynsburg) is a castle located in the southern parts of the Wałbrzych Mountains, on the Choina Mountain (450 metres), standing to the left of the river Bystryca. The valley of this river, formerly known as the Silesian Valley, creates a natural boundary between the Owl Mountains and to the west of it the Wałbrzych Mountains. The castle is located in Zagórze Śląskie (11 km ...
Founded: 1193 | Location: Walbrzych, Poland

Brzeg Castle

Earliest records of the Brzeg castle"s existence describe a small fortress with a moat and fortified walls, built in 1235 during the reign of Henry I the Bearded. A square tower known as 'The Tower of Lions' was built adjoining the castle. The Piast family branch, which ruled over Duchy of Brzeg, lived in the castle between 1311 until 1675. In 1342, the castle was made the capital seat of the duchy aft ...
Founded: 1235 | Location: Brzeg, Poland

Olesnica Castle

Oleśnica Castle was erected in 1542-1561, replacing a Gothic fortress from the thirteenth century. It was the seat of the Dukes of Oleśnica until the nineteenth century. A fortified settlement was mentioned before the year 1238, and the first record of the castle dates from 1292. After World War II, the surviving buildings held Hungarian and Italian prisoners of war. Later, there was the Soviet branch office of the  ...
Founded: 1542-1561 | Location: Oleśnica, Poland

Slupsk Castle

The Pomeranian Dukes Castle in Słupsk was erected in 1507. At first it was a gothic building, much smaller than now. In the same year duke Bolesław X rebuilt it and enlarged in the Renaissance style. The castle complex consists of the castle itself, a small, half-timbered building housing the board of directors of the Museum of Central Pomerania, the Castle Mill, the Fishermen Gate (the remains of Słupsk fo ...
Founded: 1507 | Location: Słupsk, Poland

Bobolice Castle

The Bobolice Castle was built by King Casimir III the Great in the middle of the 14th century, probably in place of an earlier wooden structure. The castle was a part of the defence system of royal strongholds protecting the western border of Poland on the side of Silesia. In 1370, immediately after becoming King of Poland, Louis I the Great granted the castle to W³adys³aw Opolczyk, Duke of Opole, as a prize for his sup ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Bobolice, Poland

Chojnik Castle

Chojnik Castle remains stand on top of the Chojnik hill within the Karkonosze National Park, overlooking the Jelenia Góra valley. It dates back to the times of the Silesian Piasts and for most of its time was in the possession of the Schaffgotsch noble family. Today the semi-ruined stronghold is a major tourist attraction and houses a hotel and a restaurant. The castle of Chojnik was originally erected by the order of D ...
Founded: 1292 | Location: Jelenia Góra, Poland

Goluchów Castle

The history of the Gołuchów castle goes back to the Middle Ages and its first known owner was ¯egota of Gołuchów  (1263-1282). A defensive fort stood here in the first half of the 15th century, probably where the castle stands today. The terrain definitely provides for adequate defence. It overlooks the Trzemsza River from the west and is surrounded by a moat and a secure embankment. The Gołuchów estates became t ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Gołuchów, Poland

Kórnik Castle

Kórnik Castle is one of the most frequently visited historical buildings in Wielkopolska region. Two of Wielkopolska’s leading dynasties – the Górka family of the Łodzia coat of arms and the Działyński family of the Ogończyk coat of arms – are responsible for its existence and its splendour. The castle was first mentioned in 1426 in a contract between the owner, Miko ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Kórnik, Poland

Grodziec Castle

The first confirmed reference of Grodziec comes from Pope Adrian IV"s bull of April 23, 1155. In 1175, Prince Bolesław I the Tall drew up a privilege for Cistercians from Lubiąż at the castle. In the time of his heir, Henryk I the Bearded, the wooden terrestrial castle was replaced by the building of a brick one. The foundation of the castle church is attributed to Saint Hedwig. In the 14th and partially ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Grodziec, Poland

Glogowek Castle

The first castle in Głogówek was built by the Piasts from the Opole line probably in the 13th century. In the years 1532-1561, the Zeidlitz family took the castle over from the previous owners; in 1561 it was in possession of the Oppersdorffs. They decided to demolish the Gothic building and replace it with a Renaissance structure which has survived - only with minor transformations - to the present day. The first proj ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Głogówek, Poland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Derbent Fortress

Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.

Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.

A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.

The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.

The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.

In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.

In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.