The castle in Będzin is mentioned for the first time in messages written in 1301 and 1349, when it is mentioned the burgrave of Będzin, Wiernko. In the light of archaeological research, it is known that it was built on relics of an early medieval hillfort. The chroniclers Jan Długosz and Janko from Czarnków attribute the foundation of the castle to the king Casimir the Great, which thanks to its construction, secured the Polish-Czech border and the capital of Poland – Kraków. From the fourteenth century, burgraves and starosts were responsible for the castle, among others they were: Nicholas Siestrzeniec Kornicz and Szafraniec, Jaroccy, Myszkowscy and Zborowscy families. In 1588, the famous prisoner of the Będzin castle was the Roman Emperor and German king, Maksymilian Habsburg, who was imprisoned by the hetman Jan Zamoyski after the battle of Byczyna.
The fall and devastation of the castle took place in the seventeenth century, due to the fire, and then the occupation of the Swedish army. In the next century, castle was an uninhabited ruin. The present appearance was restored by reconstructions: the first in nineteenth century, neo-gothic and romantic designed by F.Lanczi and the last from the 1950s, that gave the castle its original, gothic appearance.
The oldest part of the castle is a free-standing, cylindrical tower with a diameter of 10,7 meters, dating back to the second half of the 13th century. The next stage was the erection of a four-sided, five-story building, and establishing two circuits of defensive walls. The upper castle was adjoined from the east by an outer bailey, surrounded by an additional wall with a four-sided tower and a gate tower with a foregate from the north side. The second gatehouse probably connected the outer bailey with the city from the south. The whole was combined with the city walls.
The entrance to the upper castle was via a three-storey gate tower. After entering it, you turned left and walked through the entire zwinger, until the gate tower was reached again and after the right turn you entered the courtyard (now the so-called inn is rising here).
There were two entrances to the main house. The first one was placed at the height of a few meters and was probably led to it by a ladder (it is today’s entrance to the museum, but originally the ground level was 2 meters lower). After climbing, one entered the room from which there were three exits: in the ceiling up, in the floor down and one in the side. The second entrance from the courtyard led from the ground level to a single room. At the level of the fourth storey there were two exits to the outside: the sidewalk of the inner defensive walls and further to the cylindrical tower and the guard’s porch (only two beams and a fragment of the wall remain after it). The residential building was originally of the same height, without the tower’s eastern part, as today.
The cylindrical tower was originally a bit higher and had four floors with an ogival, gothic entry opening at the height of the third floor. It was possible to get to it by a ladder or a sidewalk running along the wall and then a wooden bridge. The communication inside the tower was also carried out on ladders.
The inner defensive wall of the upper castle was much higher than the outer one. It is possible that the outer one was equipped with hoarding, the inner one certainly had a battlement.
Today, the renovated and partially rebuilt castle is one of the most impressive medieval objects in southern Poland. The main differences in relation to the original appearance are the reduced height of the cylindrical tower, originally higher than the quadrilateral building, and the separation of the now visible, square tower. The part occupying the square tower and the building were originally the same height and were covered with one roof, which can be seen in the veduta of Mathias Gerung of 1536. (discovered in Germany in 1991). Currently, the castle houses the Museum of Zagłębie Dąbrowskie with an interesting exhibition of militaria. Hours and opening times are available on the official website of the castle here.
Krajniewski J, Będzin, początki miasta, Będzin 2008.
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, L.Kajzer, S.Kołodziejski, J.Salm, Warszawa 2003.