Książ Castle, the third largest castle in Poland, is located on a majestic rock cliff by the side of the Pelcznica River. Beautifully surrounded by the forest within a 315500 actre nature reserve, at the height of 395m above sea level, castle is often called ‘the Pearl of Lower Silesia’. Such location corresponding to the size of the building is very rare in Europe.

Książ (in German Fürstenstein) was built in 1288-1292 under Bolko I the Strict (Duke of Świdnica and Jawor) after the original fortification was destroyed in the year 1263 by Ottokar II of Bohemia. Duke Bolko II of Świdnica died in 1368 without having children with his wife Agnes von Habsburg. After her death in the year 1392 King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia obtained the castle. In 1401 Janko from Chociemice obtained the castle.

The Bohemian Hussites occupied the castle between 1428-1429. In the year 1464 Birka from Nasiedla obtained the castle from the Bohemian crown. He sold it to Hans von Schellendorf. This second castle was destroyed in 1482 by Georg von Stein. In the year 1509 Konrad I von Hoberg obtained the castle hill. The Hochberg family owned the castle until the 1940s.

Jan Henryk XV carried the the biggest development in the Castle’s history. Between 1908 – 1923 north and west renaissance extensions were being developed. Castle’s tower has reached the height of 47m and was covered with the domed helmet and the lantern. Also the Castle’s gardens took its current shape.

The castle was seized by the Nazi government in 1944 because the Prince of Pless Hans Heinrich XVII had moved to England in 1932 and became a British citizen, also his brother Count Alexander of Hochberg who was a Polish citizen and the owner of Schloss Pleß (today Pszczyna Castle), had joined the Polish army. Fürstenstein castle was a part of the Project Riese (a construction project of Nazi Germany, consisting of seven underground structures located in the Owl Mountains) until 1945 when it was occupied by the Red army. All artifacts were stolen or destroyed.

Up to 1956 the castle was decaying the the restoration took place between 1956-1974.

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Founded: 1288-1292
Category: Castles and fortifications in Poland

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Raúl Montero Veiga (44 days ago)
Good place to see. The BEST the gardens and outside the Castle. Prepare your foots and take good shoes to walk a lot
Wadim “karmainside” Mieszajkin (4 months ago)
One of the most beautiful castles in Europe. It's in perfect condition, situated on the top of the mountain. There is a big park around the castle, some attractions inside and nearby, the restaurant, and the hotel. Multiple hiking trails around the castle. A must see place. Also, take a short walk to the view point nearby, view of the castle from a distance is breathtaking. There is a paid parking (15 PLN) in the castle, though space is very limited.
Michał Struzik (6 months ago)
Very nice and well preserved castle. A lot of green areas and beautiful Valley. During Covid you can't get inside but still worth it to travel and enjoy surrounding.
David van Oostende (9 months ago)
A beautiful and right of history kind of castle. There is also a beautiful garden and other things to visit! I also personally recommend to take the audio tour of the castle and tunnels, it's amazing!
Pablo Esc (9 months ago)
Not the first visit and most certainly not the last one, this place certainly does not disappoint. If possible try visiting midweek when it's much quieter than over the weekend
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Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

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Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only made from earth and wood, Pembroke Castle resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle was established at the heart of the Norman-controlled lands of southwest Wales.

When William Rufus died, Arnulf de Montgomery joined his elder brother, Robert of Bellême, in rebellion against Henry I, William's brother and successor as king; when the rebellion failed, he was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles. Henry appointed his castellan, but when the chosen ally turned out to be incompetent, the King reappointed Gerald in 1102. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman invasion of Ireland.

In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshal who received both the castle and the title, Earl of Pembroke. He had the castle rebuilt in stone and established the great keep at the same time. Marshal was succeeded in turn by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.

Later de Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern. Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.

Pembroke Castle then reverted to the crown. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was a place of peace until the outbreak of the English Civil War. Although most of South Wales sided with the King, Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven. Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew.

In 1648, at the beginning of the Second Civil War, Pembroke's commander Colonel John Poyer led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke on 24 May 1648 and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their purposes.

The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay. It remained in ruins until 1880, when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until 1928, when Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and began an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses, and towers. After his death, a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke town council.

Architecture

The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by the Milford Haven Waterway. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte-and-bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.

In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. He soon became Lord Marshal of England, and set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive Norman stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral staircase connected its four stories. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden fighting-platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.

The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of the wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward. The 13th century keep is 23 metres tall with walls up to 6 metres thick at its base.

In the late 13th century, additional buildings were added to the inner ward, including a new Great Hall. A 55-step spiral staircase was also created that led down to a large limestone cave, known as Wogan Cavern, beneath the castle. The cave, which was created by natural water erosion, was fortified with a wall, a barred gateway and arrowslits. It may have served as a boathouse or a sallyport to the river where cargo or people could have been transferred.

The outer ward was defended by a large twin-towered gatehouse, a barbican and several round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres thick in places and constructed from Siltstone ashlar.

Although Pembroke Castle is a Norman-style enclosure castle with great keep, it can be more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rocky promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault on a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, with Pembroke River providing a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.