Dunajec river castles

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

Nowy Sacz Castle

The Nowy Sącz Royal Castle is partially restored ruins of the castle. The edifice was built by king Casimir the Great in 1350-1360 on a slope within the fortifications of Nowy Sącz, at the confluence of two rivers Dunajec and Kamienica. Initially the castle had two corner towers, a keep and a residential building. The structure was separated from the city by a moat and a wall. Among the notable inhabitants were king Lo ...
Founded: 1350 | Location: Nowy Sącz, Poland

Czorsztyn Castle Ruins

The ruins of Czorsztyn Castle stands at the top of the hill nearby Dunajec. According to Jan Długosz, in 1246 the owner of the castle was Piotr Wydżga. However that theory was never after confirmed by other historians, so the beginnings of castle functioning are dated on 14th century. Large development of the castle took place during the reign of Casimir III the Great. In years 1629–1643, when Jan Baranowski was a sta ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Czorsztyn, Poland

Pieniny Castle Ruins

The ancient Pieniny castle was built on northern slope of a steep hill. The complex was small, due to lack of space, but placed in a spot which provided natural defence. The length of the defensive walls was 88 meters, and the walls were 1 meter thick, made from the local limestone rock. The gate was located in western part of the castle, below which cellars were built. According to Jan Długosz, during the disastrous ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Krościenko nad Dunajcem, Poland

Tropsztyn Castle

The Tropsztyn Castle was probably built in the early 13th century by the Ośmioróg family. It was first mentioned in 1231, and remained in the hands of the family for 300 years. In 1535, following a royal order, Tropsztyn was handed to the castellan of Sandomierz, Piotr Kmita. Some time in the second half of the 16th century, it probably became the seat of highwaymen, as it was partially destroyed in 1574 by th ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Wytrzyszczka, Poland

Melsztyn Castle Ruins

Construction of the Melsztyn Castle was initiated in 1340, by the castellan of Kraków, Spicymir. In 1362, Bishop Bodzanta blessed the Holy Spirit chapel at the castle. The complex for 200 years remained in the hands of the powerful noble family of Leliwita Melsztyński, which in the late 14th century built a Gothic keep, located in the western wing of the castle. In the 15th century, Melsztyn was one of centers ...
Founded: 1340 | Location: Melsztyn, Poland

Czchów Castle Ruins

The history of the Czchów Castle dates back to the 13th century, when a Romanesque watchtower was built here. In the 14th century, a defensive castle was added to the tower. It became the residence of the Czchów starostas, and was destroyed in the Swedish wars of the mid-17th century. Finally, the castle lost its military importance, and was turned into a prison, which was closed in 1772, after the first par ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Czchów, Poland

Roznów Castle Ruins

The Rożnów Castle is a complex of defensive objects, consisting of a medieval “upper castle” and Renaissance fortifications (“lower castle”). Its history dates back to the 13th century, when the Gryfita family built here a watchtower. The castle itself was probably built in 1350–1370 by Piotr Rozen. It is in the shape of a rectangle, 44 meters by 20 meters. In 1426, the castle was ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Rożnów, Poland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).