The first confirmed reference of Grodziec comes from Pope Adrian IV's bull of April 23, 1155. In 1175, Prince Bolesław I the Tall drew up a privilege for Cistercians from Lubiąż at the castle. In the time of his heir, Henryk I the Bearded, the wooden terrestrial castle was replaced by the building of a brick one. The foundation of the castle church is attributed to Saint Hedwig. In the 14th and partially in the 15th centuries the castle was the property of the knightly family of Busewoy.
In the period of the Hussite Wars, the building was captured and plundered by a Hussite detachment. In 1470, the Prince of Legnica, Friedrich I repurchased it. Master bricklayers brought from Wrocławand Görlitz gave the establishment its present-day spatial structure.
After the Prince's death by the order of his son, Friedrich II, work on the castle continued. It then become one of the most beautiful Gothic-Renaissance residences in Silesia. The final work coincided with the wedding of the Prince to Princess Sophie von Hohenzollern. A grand feast was held in the castle and a great knightly tournament outside was arranged.
In the time of the Thirty Years' War, the castle was captured and burned by the forces of Prince Albrecht von Wallenstein. Because of the amount of damage due to the war, the fortress was left with some parts of the stronghold missing.
In the 17th and 18th centuries efforts were made to rebuild Grodziec, however they were not completed. The Swiss art dealer Martin Usteri acquired 32 glass panes in 1796, which were sold from his legacy in 1829, and thereafter installed in the Gröditzberg castle. From there, six of the former stained glass windows of the Augustinerkloster Zürich were bought by the Gottfried Keller Stiftung in 1894, exhibited in the cloister of the Fraumünster cathedral in Zürich, and then entrusted to the Swiss National Museum on deposit.
In the 19th century, when the owner of property became Prince of the Reich Johann Heinrich IV von Hochberg from Książ, more work of preservation and reconstruction was taken up. Reconstruction was stopped during the Napoleonic Wars, but in the mid-1830s the castle became an object of many tourist excursions. At this time, it developed the reputation of being one of the most attractive historical buildings in Europe.
Reconstruction was started again in the 20th century, when Dr. Baron Wilibald von Dirksen became the owner of the castle. He ordered an elaboration of the design to the most well-known and respected architect and conservator, Bodo Ebhardt, who also supervised the work. In 1908, Emperor Wilhelm II was a guest during the solemn reopening of the cassle after the completion of renovations. The castle was inherited by Dirksen's son, Herbert von Dirksen, who become a prominent German diplomat serving as the ambassador to the Soviet Union, Japan and Great Britain. In 1945, the castle, with some of its possessions, was burnt.
The castle was later transferred to Silesian Society of History and Antiquarianism Lovers for use as a museum, restaurant and a shelter-home.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).