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:
Medvedgrad is a medieval fortified town located on the south slopes of Medvednica mountain, approximately halfway from the Croatian capital Zagreb to the mountain top Sljeme. For defensive purposes it was built on a hill, Mali Plazur, that is a spur of the main ridge of the mountain that overlooks the city. On a clear day the castle can be seen from far away, especially the high main tower. Below the main tower of the castle is Oltar Domovine (Altar of the homeland) which is dedicated to Croatian soldiers killed in the Croatian War of Independence.
In 1242, Mongols invaded Zagreb. The city was destroyed and burned to the ground. This prompted the building of Medvedgrad. Encouraged by Pope Innocent IV, Philip Türje, bishop of Zagreb, built the fortress between 1249 and 1254. It was later owned by bans of Slavonia. Notable Croatian and Hungarian poet and ban of Slavonia Janus Pannonius (Ivan Česmički) died in the Medvedgrad castle on March 27, 1472.
The last Medvedgrad owners and inhabitants was the Gregorijanec family, who gained possession of Medvedgrad in 1562. In 1574, the walls of Medvedgrad were reinforced, but after the 1590 Neulengbach earthquake, the fortress was heavily damaged and ultimately abandoned. It remained in ruins until the late 20th century, when it was partly restored and now offers a panoramic view of the city from an altitude of over 500 meters.