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

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.