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Chęciny Castle

At the foot of a small town of Chęciny, it is difficult not to notice the majestic towers casting long shadows directly from the top of a rocky hill. This threesome of silent guards in the Świętokrzyskie region belongs to the former royal residence; only its picturesque ruins survived. The medieval stronghold in Chęciny, located on the road from Cracow to Warsaw, had an opportunity to play many roles in Poland’s history – as an inaccessible stronghold, a safe place for royal treasures or a prison for known prisoners. After several cruel wars of the 17th century, this semi-destroyed castle was abandoned for a long time; and it was not until the renovation in the last decades which gave Chęciny Castle an opportunity to regain its former fame.

History of Chęciny Castle

The end of the 13th century/the beginning of the 14th century is believed to be the most probable date of building this stronghold in the town of Chęciny, when Wenceslaus II of the Přemyslid dynasty, the son of a Czech king, was the king of Poland. A written note about the castle appeared in documents from 1306, when Władysław the Short returned from exile after the unexpected death of Wenceslaus II and took over Cracow, promising to the Chapter of Cracow to give back the Castrum (stronghold) of Chęciny with surrounding villages. However, as early as in the summer of 1307, suspecting Cracow's Bishop Jan Muskat of plotting, he took the stronghold and transformed it into an important political and military state centre.

In the first half of the 14th century knights from Lesser Poland and Greater Poland, dignitaries and officials arrived several times in Chęciny Castle at meetings which, according to some historians, became a model for developing later the Polish Sejm. In 1318, fearing the invasions of Teutonic knights, Archbishop Janisław sent treasures and sacred items from Gniezno Cathedral, which played a role of Poland's spiritual centre for many centuries, for safekeeping in the castle. Built in the times of Władysław the Short, also the castle chapel often gave shelter to the royal treasures. In 1331 an army gathered at the walls of Chęciny stronghold, which then set off for a bloody fight against the forces of Teutonic Order at Płowce. (more)

What can you see there?

In the spring of 2013 the reconstruction of Chęciny stronghold entered another phase. During the reconstruction archaeologists discovered foundations of a tower which was not known earlier and it is possible that this is the oldest existing element in the castle. During a trip across the castle, you can see with your own eyes how the individual castle parts built in different centuries differ in terms of colours and construction materials – the original walls of local grey limestone were then enlarged with light sandstone and red brick. The courtyard is surrounded with a nine-metre defensive wall with arrow slits for soldiers. You can see a gallery jutting out of a part of the wall where executions used to take place.

The castle premises are divided into two parts – the Upper Castle and the Lower Castle called the Barmkin. The Upper Castle is protected with two towers and two-metre-thick stone walls, while the Lower Castle, a spacious courtyard, is crowned with a quadrangular tower and a Gothic vaulted gate. In the middle of the castle courtyard you can see a deep opening carved in rock at the depth of a hundred metres. Historians believe that this well was once connected through an underground passage to St. Bartłomiej Church, which is located in front of the castle entry, near the Entry Gate.

You can admire the beauty of picturesque surroundings around the castle from the East Tower, where a view circus is located today: the old town of Chęciny, the forested mountainsides of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains and the distant peaks of Poland's Tatras. Costume parties dedicated to various historic events are often held behind the castle walls. The enthusiasts of colourful experiences will certainly enjoy a night walk across the castle shrouded in unique and mysterious colours.

Zamek Królewski Chęciny from on Vimeo.

You can visit Chęciny Castle:

January-February, November-December - from 09:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
March - from 09:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
April - from 09:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
May-June, September - from 09:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
July-August - from 09:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
October - from 09:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.