Chojnik Castle remains stand on top of the Chojnik hill within the Karkonosze National Park, overlooking the Jelenia Góra valley. It dates back to the times of the Silesian Piasts and for most of its time was in the possession of the Schaffgotsch noble family. Today the semi-ruined stronghold is a major tourist attraction and houses a hotel and a restaurant.
The castle of Chojnik was originally erected by the order of Duke Bolko I the Strict in 1292 at the site of a former hunting lodge built by his father Boles³aw II the Bald. The fortress was meant to protect the borders of Bolko's Duchy of Jawor against the menacing Wenceslaus II of Bohemia. Bolko's grandson Bolko II the Small, the last independent Piast duke, had the castle reconstructed starting from 1355.
After Bolko II had died without issue in 1368, his widow Agnes von Habsburg sold the castle to one of the courtiers, the knight Gotsche Schoff. Gotsche II Schoff modernized and expanded the castle in 1393. In the same year he donated the Gothic chapel, which was completed in 1403. The chapel devoted to Saint Catherine and Saint George featured artful paintings preserved until World War II. The castle survived the next centuries without damages. It withstood the attacks by the Hussites in 1426 and by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, who after his campaign of 1469 destroyed many Silesian castles. In 1529 Ulrich I von Schaffgotsch expanded the building with two forecourts, depots and a pillory, and at the end of the 16th century Renaissance modifications were carried out.
During the Thirty Years' War Hans Ulrich von Schaffgotsch, Lord of Kynast - though a Protestant - after the 1620 Battle of White Mountain supported Emperor Ferdinand II and served as a general in the Imperial army under Albrecht von Wallenstein. After Wallenstein's persecution and assassination in 1634 Schaffgotsch as his liegeman was arrested, accused of high treason and executed one year later. Ferdinand II seized his property and had Kynast castle occupied by his troops, who resisted the attacks of the Swedish forces. Ferdinand III added new bastions to the castle in 1648 and finally restituted it to Christoph Leopold von Schaffgotsch, Hans Ulrich's son, in 1650. Still during the latter's lifetime, in 1675, the castle that has never been conquered burnt down completely after being struck by lightning and was not reconstructed.
The comital family relocated down into the valley to the old palace of Warmbrunn and the destroyed castle became a tourist attraction already in the early 18th century. It was visited by the Prussian royal family and poets like Heinrich von Kleist and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe as well as Theodor Körner, who immortalized the ruin in one of his poems and made it famous all over Germany. 1822 the Schaffgotschs added a tavern and harbourage to the castle and three years later rebuilt the tower. In the 1920s the old legends were resuscitated by Waldemar Müller-Erhardt, and in the next years these folk plays were performed there.
The ruins remained in the property of the Schaffgotsch dynasty until in 1945 the family was expelled. In 1964 the Polish state restored the ruins and rebuilt the mountain hut.
The ruins of Chojnik are tied to the myth of Kunegunda, a castle lord's daughter desired by many knights. As she had no intention to enter into marriage she promised to espouse the bold man who would complete a circuit along the castle's walls on a horseback, knowing that on the steep slopes horse and rider must fall into the chasm. Many tried and perished until a proud nobleman came along, who appealed to Kunegunda's eyes. Though she declared to abandon the precondition and to marry him right away, the knight insisted to take the risk and he succeeded. Instead of accepting her proposal he scolded her for her cruelty and departed. Kunegunda however, deeply humiliated, lunged into the abyss herself.References:
Czocha Castle is located on the Lake Leśnia, what is now the Polish part of Upper Lusatia. Czocha castle was built on gneiss rock, and its oldest part is the keep, to which housing structures were later added.
Czocha Castle began as a stronghold, on the Czech-Lusatian border. Its construction was ordered by Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, in the middle of the 13th century (1241–1247). In 1253 castle was handed over to Konrad von Wallhausen, Bishop of Meissen. In 1319 the complex became part of the dukedom of Henry I of Jawor, and after his death, it was taken over by another Silesian prince, Bolko II the Small, and his wife Agnieszka. Origin of the stone castle dates back to 1329.
In the mid-14th century, Czocha Castle was annexed by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Then, between 1389 and 1453, it belonged to the noble families of von Dohn and von Kluks. Reinforced, the complex was besieged by the Hussites in the early 15th century, who captured it in 1427, and remained in the castle for unknown time (see Hussite Wars). In 1453, the castle was purchased by the family of von Nostitz, who owned it for 250 years, making several changes through remodelling projects in 1525 and 1611. Czocha's walls were strengthened and reinforced, which thwarted a Swedish siege of the complex during the Thirty Years War. In 1703, the castle was purchased by Jan Hartwig von Uechtritz, influential courtier of Augustus II the Strong. On August 17, 1793, the whole complex burned in a fire.
In 1909, Czocha was bought by a cigar manufacturer from Dresden, Ernst Gutschow, who ordered major remodelling, carried out by Berlin architect Bodo Ebhardt, based on a 1703 painting of the castle. Gutschow, who was close to the Russian Imperial Court and hosted several White emigres in Czocha, lived in the castle until March 1945. Upon leaving, he packed up the most valuable possessions and moved them out.
After World War II, the castle was ransacked several times, both by soldiers of the Red Army, and Polish thieves, who came to the so-called Recovered Territories from central and eastern part of the country. Pieces of furniture and other goods were stolen, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the castle was home to refugees from Greece. In 1952, Czocha was taken over by the Polish Army. Used as a military vacation resort, it was erased from official maps. The castle has been open to the public since September 1996 as a hotel and conference centre. The complex was featured in several movies and television series. Recently, the castle has been used as the setting of the College of Wizardry, a live action role-playing game (LARP) that takes place in their own universe and can be compared to Harry Potter.