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Castle in Chęciny

In the city
Contact ul. Małogoska 7
26-060 Chęciny

tel.: 41 308 00 48
e-mail: biuro@zamek.checiny.pl

Description

The Royal Castle in Chęciny was erected on the ridge of a rocky hill (367 m above sea level), at the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

The first mention of it dates back to 1306, in the document of Władysław the Łokietek confirming the castle, together with 11 villages, the Krakow bishop - Jan Muskacie (with whom the Prince temporarily settled for purely political reasons) is the castle of the prince (castrum nostrum ducale). However, the fact that Łokietek issued privileges in Chęciny in 1308 testifies to the fact that the stronghold was back in his hands back then. Presumably, the chęciny castle was at that time the center of princely administration, in the later decades of the fourteenth century it became the seat of the county poviat.

The stronghold was an object of high rank, a center of political life, where in 1310, 1318 and 1331 congresses of magnates and knights were called. Fearing the Teutonic Knights, Archbishop Janisław deposited here in 1318 a treasury of the Archdiocese of Gniezno. In the chapel built by Łokietek a crown treasury was temporarily stored.

The fortress was one of the concentration places of Polish troops going to war with the Teutonic Knights. Władysław Łokietek, setting off in 1331 for the battle of Płowce, convened on June 14 in Chęciny, the highest dignitaries and state officials for the first "congress of Polish lands" (this event is considered the beginning of future parliaments). In the mid-fourteenth century, the castle was extended by Casimir the Great, he was considered one of the most powerful Polish strongholds (never gained strength in times of its magnificence).

The fortress also served as a prison from the end of the 14th century. He spent here, among others 10 years Andrzej Garbaty (the oldest of the Olgierdowicz family) - a half-brother, also a fierce enemy of Władysław Jagiełło and Hińcz of Rogów, who "thrown deep into the dirty tower in Chęciny almost gave up the ghost from the stench in prison", wrote Jan Długosz in his " chronicles. " After winning the battle of Grunwald, in 1410, more important Teutonic prisoners were kept at the castle, and Michał Küchmeister (later Grand Master of the Teutonic Order in the years 1414-1422) was also imprisoned in the battle of Koronowo.

The castle's crew of 150 people during the war blocked the enemy's movements on the roads running through Chęciny, and during the time of peace kept them in order and ensured the safety of the travelers.

The castle was also the residence of royal families, queens and widows; Adelajda - the second wife of Casimir the Great and the sister of that king - Elżbieta, who ruled on behalf of his son, Ludwik Węgierski, stayed here. She lived here, with her huge treasury, Queen Bona. When she left Chęciny, her property was carried on 24 carts, drawn by 140 horses.

During the plague raging in 1425, Jagiełło's son Władysław found shelter in the walls of Chęciny. The lustration report from 1569 mentions the need to repair the castle and the related difficulties resulting from the lack of water. He also mentions the ongoing work on forging a well (its traces are now visible in the courtyard of the lower castle).

A significant date, demonstrating the slow decline of the importance of the stronghold, is the year 1588. At that time, the parliament authorized the transfer of the books of the commune of Chęciński from the castle to the church in Chęciny. During Zebrzydowski's year in 1607, the castle was conquered by rebellious troops, buildings were set on fire, the armory was removed, and fortifications were destroyed.

In 1610, the starost of Chęciny and the sword-bearer of the Crown - Stanisław Branicki, renovated the castle, partially expanding it. In 1657, in the era of the Swedish "deluge", the Rakowicz estate was destroyed by the Chęciny stronghold. It has been rebuilt once again. However, in 1707, the Swedish army burned the castle again, which then ceased to be an old-fashioned residence. Works set on the castle walls for the last time shot on July 11, 1787, cheering in honor of the king Stanisław August Poniatowski returning from Krakow to Warsaw (passing through Chęciny).

After the Third Partition of Poland, the castle began to fall into disrepair, then it was deserted even by a residential building housing a town office. The castle walls suffered greatly as a result of the activity of the local population, which obtained material for building material and from artillery fire during World War I.

The first conservation works of the castle ruins were carried out already in the 1880s - not without reason Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz called them "the greatest Polish antiquity monument". In 1947, the Voivodship Inspector of Monuments entered the system into the register of monuments and classified it to the first, the highest group in the country. As a result of further work carried out in 1948-1949, the castle towers were renovated. The works securing the building as a "permanent ruin" are being carried out all the time.

The castle is divided into two parts: the older one (upper one), stretching between two round towers and the younger one (lower one), with an ogival wicket and four-sided tower, which was added in the fifteenth century. The entrance to the castle led from the eastern side through the drawbridge and the gate protruded in front of the tower, secured with an iron lattice (so-called harrow), lowered for the night.

The gate adjoined the tower, which raised the defense of this point. On the other hand, the gate tower is adjoined by a vaulted room, in which, according to tradition, the castle chapel (where the crown treasury was kept) was located. At the north wall there are ruins of a residential building with preserved window openings and vaulted cellars. The second of the round towers served as the last point of resistance in the event of a siege (thick walls and food supplies allowed us to wait for relief).

The lower castle served economic functions. In the middle of its courtyard is a well hole, carved in the rock to a depth of 100 m. Probably through her and an underground corridor leading to the church in Chęciny, communication was maintained during the siege - this was reflected in the legend that the castle had a connection to the church in Karczówka.

According to other legends, in the underground dungeons there are still treasures left in a hurry by Queen Bona, and also in the evening the knight of the black horse appears in the evening. An interesting fact is that in the 60s of the twentieth century, a movie was filmed in the scenery of the castle. "Pan Wołodyjowski", directed by Jerzy Hoffman.

The spirit of Queen Bona

Currently, the castle in Chęciny is one of the most visited monuments of this type in Poland. Powerful towers dominate the area and are already visible from the route running to Krakow. To this day, full circumferences of the outer defensive walls, two towers, a tower and foundations of residential buildings have been preserved. In the eastern tower there is a lookout point, from where in nice weather you can see the tops of the Tatra Mountains.

Every year, the castle organizes "NIGHT ON THE CASTLE" - a cyclical event taking place in the summer season in the evening, surrounded by the walls of the historic stronghold. The event is a unique proposition of visiting the facility at night and learning about the historical knowledge of the ruins in an original way. The event is accompanied by Fire theater, knights' battle shows and ancient dances as well as tournaments and games.

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Location

Chęciny, Świętokrzyskie
, 26-060 Chęciny
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