Ostrzeszów Castle Tower

Ostrzeszów, Poland

Ostrzeszów castle, situated at a short distance north-west of the town’s centre and probably originally separated from it by a moat, constituted an independent fortified establishment, although it was associated in the old times with the town’s fortification system. Built around mid-14th century, the endowment of King Casimir the Great, it was part of the ruler’s large-scale construction venture aimed at reinforcing the State’s borderline area.

Situated on a small, possibly artificially heaped-up hill, it once formed an installation embracing a rectangular area of ca. 27 m x 30 m, surrounded with tall brick walls, supported and reinforced on the angles with buttresses. In its south-eastern line – that is, on the town’s side – an enormous tower has been built, quadrilateral on its basement, turning into an octagon in its higher sections. By the tower, at its southern side, there was an entrance gate opening toward an extensive wall-surrounded courtyard. The courtyard’s inner developments were originally wooden and were replaced by brick structures around mid-15th century. A brick one-tract two- or three-storey building, rectangular in its projection, probably covered with a tall roof, was erected then along the yard’s north-western side, opposite the gate.

The castle developments so formed were meant to exercise a fortified/defensive function, in the first place, along with an administrative and residential function; they were the seat of consecutive castle-town starosts who represented the royal authority in the province. The castle was destroyed during the Swedish invasion, but was rebuilt afterwards in as early as 1661. Although it lost its defensive function, still being the seat of starost, it continued to be a centre of authority, also as home to magistrates’ and land courts.

Toward the end of 18th century, the castle’s walls and buildings were much neglected, and by mid-19th c., their condition threatened with construction disaster and the decision to have it demolished was made.

Relicts of perimetric walls and the tower (renovated and preserved in 1960) have survived till this day – the tower being made of bricks, founded on a square projection, on combined stone-brick foundations, turning into an octagon at a height of ca. 11 m above the area’s surface. Its brick elevations, with a gothic strand of the walls, have preserved remnants of former architectonic décor, in the form of a double ogival blind window in the upper section of the front wall.

Presently, the tower houses a display of torture appliances of yore, its top part offering a beautiful view of the town. For a tourist group, in order to use the tower, it is advised to contact the Regional Museum beforehand.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 14th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Poland

More Information

regionwielkopolska.pl

User Reviews

Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.