Sobieski's Castle in Oława is a Renaissance-Baroque style castle located in the site of a former Gothic castle. The original castle had been built by Duke Ludwik I built in the second half of the fourteenth century. It was the third castle structure in Oława, the first being the seat of the castellans, located in the south-east of the town. It remained an integral part of the town's defenses until the wars with the Hussites.

The Renaissance castle was built by master Jakub of Milan, continued by his brother-in-law Bernard Niuron in 1588. After various reconstructions, this part of the castle now houses the local parish church's rectory of St. Apostle Peter and Paul. The reconstruction covered the whole of the Gothic castle, this included the now former west and northern wings of the castle-church. The castle-church's tower, the last fragment of the northern wing, collapsed in the later years of 1970s.

The current castle-church also has a two-level pavilion constructed in the early-Baroque architectural style, built onto the western side of the Renaissance castle. The pavilion was constructed by Italian masters during the reign of Christian, Duke of Brieg (1618–1672); the castle's building is called Christianbau. It was probably designed and built by Carlo Rossi, an Italian architect who spent most of his career in Russia and Poland. The site included a terraced garden which was incompatible with the Polish climate, causing in its rapid devastation.

The castle was part of the defenses used by the House of Piast to protect their lands from incursion by their various enemies; their royal rule in Poland ended in 1370, but the family continued to dominate the areas bordering on Bohemia and Moravia. In the 17th century, the last duke, Christian, left the castle to his widow, Louise of Anhalt-Dessau, as her dower house; she was also the regent for her son, Georg William until his death of smallpox in 1675; the boy was the last male Piast. She remained at the castle until her own death in 1680, after which the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I confiscated the Piast lands and castles.



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plac Zamkowy 17, Oława, Poland
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Founded: 1541
Category: Castles and fortifications in Poland

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The Château de Chaumont was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois. The purpose was to protect his lands from attacks from his feudal rivals, Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou. On his behalf the Norman Gelduin received it, improved it and held it as his own. His great-niece Denise de Fougère, having married Sulpice d'Amboise, passed the château into the Amboise family for five centuries.

Pierre d'Amboise unsuccessfully rebelled against King Louis XI and his property was confiscated, and the castle was dismantled on royal order in 1465. It was later rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise from 1465–1475 and then finished by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont from 1498–1510, with help from his uncle, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise; some Renaissance features were to be seen in buildings that retained their overall medieval appearance. The château was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550. There she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. When her husband, Henry II, died in 1559 she forced his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to exchange Château de Chaumont for Château de Chenonceau which Henry had given to de Poitiers. Diane de Poitiers only lived at Chaumont for a short while.

Later Chaumont has changed hands several times. Paul de Beauvilliers bought the château in 1699, modernized some of its interiors and decorated it with sufficient grandeur to house the duc d'Anjou on his way to become king of Spain in 1700. Monsieur Bertin demolished the north wing to open the house towards the river view in the modern fashion.

In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray purchased the castle as a country home where he established a glassmaking and pottery factory. He was considered the French "Father of the American Revolution" because he loved America. However, in 1789, the new French Revolutionary Government seized Le Ray's assets, including his beloved Château de Chaumont.

The castle has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. The Château de Chaumont is currently a museum and every year hosts a Garden Festival from April to October where contemporary garden designers display their work in an English-style garden.