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.References:
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.