Zbaszyn Castle Ruins

Zbąszyń, Poland

Zbąszyń castellan stronghold was first mentioned in 1231. In 1242, Duke Przemysł I founded a customs chamber there to facilitate trading operations between Poland and Teutonic Order lands. The castle-town was captured and plundered by marauders ravaging the borderland area.

According to Edward Raczyński, the first owner of Zbąszyń was Piotr Szwenc; he was sentenced to death in 1307 for betrayal of the country. Then, the estate came down to the Zbąski family who, probably in 14th century, erected there a fortified edifice, referred to in 1456 as a fortalitium. The castle was redeveloped, or possibly replaced by a new one, between 1560 and 1577 by Abraham Zbąski, the then estate proprietor. What has remained of it is a quadrilateral gate tower of a gothic wall thread, incorporated in that novel fortified-structure setup, heavily redeveloped at a later date. The project was continued by Abraham’s grandson Abraham Ciświcki, Castellan of Bydgoszcz and Śrem, owner of the Zbąszyń property since 1613. It was on his initiative that a palazzo-in-fortezza-type residence was erected there in the 1620s, featuring rampart fortifications, modelled after old-Dutch fortifications – it only had earth bastions and fortification curtains.

The fortress, founded upon a rectangular (250 m x 350 m) base, is surrounded and reinforced by earth-banks with four sharp-tipped bastions at the angles. The entry led through the gate tower, with a ravelin heaped-up in front of it, connected with the gate through a drawbridge set above a moat fed with the Oder river waters. Due to the warfare taking place at the time, it is not certain if the works actually got completed at that point.

The layout’s central part featured a residential building, not surviving to date. The stronghold was destroyed several times: in the early 17th century, during the Swedish invasion of 1655–1660 and the Great Northern War in 1706, which turned its fortified as well as residential elements, and even the chapel, into ruins.

The gate tower, rebuilt in 19th century, has survived till this day, as has a part of the earth-water fortifications with visible outlines of embankments and bastions at the north, north-west and north-east alike. A branch of the Regional Museum is housed at the site today.

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Founded: 1231
Category: Miscellaneous historic sites in Poland

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