Besiekiery – castle

History

   The construction of the castle connects with the Brzeg stolnik Nicholas Sokołowski at the end of the 15th or the beginning of the 16th century. At the end of the sixteenth century, the building belonged to Andrzej Batory, and in the mid-seventeenth century, it was renovated and rebuilt by the voivode of Brzeg-Kujawy, Jan Szymon Szczawiński. Unfortunately, from the seventeenth to the eighteenth century, the inventories record a progressive fall of the castle, accelerated by a fire in 1731, and then dismantled the upper floor. Still in the 19th century, the thatched house served as an economic house.

Architecture

   The castle was located on the southern side of the swampy valley, on an island formed in the middle of an artificial lake. This island, which is a natural elevation, had a rectangular shape with rounded corners and dimensions of 60 x 55 meters. At the southern shore and in the central part it was 6 meters high above the water level, while its banks formed a clear slope rising 3.5 meters above the lake level, although originally the water level was higher. At the same time, the island was clearly below the hills surrounding the lake from the south and east.
   The castle was a late gothic object, consisting of defensive walls 2 meters thick, as well as a house and gate tower, built of bricks on a stone foundation. The whole square was 38×40 meters. Originally, its perimeter walls were right next to the water, which level only decreased after some time. It were crowned with a wall-walk for defenders, which was located at a height of about 3.9 meters. Its width was about 0.8 meters, while the total height of the defensive wall is estimated at about 6 meters. It is not certain how it was originally crowned, but the presence of the screen wall from the courtyard side suggests that the entire wall was covered with a roofed porch, which would be confirmed by finds of medieval tiles in its vicinity.
   The castle house had two or three residential levels, four rooms each. The western part probably had a basement. The outer walls of the building were 2 meters thick, the same as the perimeter walls of the castle, while the southern wall, which was the facade from the courtyard, was slightly thinner and 1.8 meters thick, roughly the same as partition walls. Inside, two central ground floor rooms received rib vaults, and the outer rooms had wooden ceilings, in the eastern room based on one large beam and a central pole. The western chamber was probably heated by a furnace located in the basement, as evidenced by the channels draining warm air placed in the walls. Similar channels were found in the north wall between both eastern rooms. Communication was provided by stairs in one of the central rooms and a passage on the second floor in the southeast corner leading to the wall-walk in the crown of the defensive wall.
   The gate tower was entirely extended in front of the perimeter of the walls. It had four floors: two lower ones on a square plan and two upper octagonal ones. The gate passage located in the ground floor, 3 meters wide, was barrel vaulted, as was the upper floor, while the upper two received wooden ceilings. A timber bridge hung quite high above the pond led to the gate tower.
   In the mid-seventeenth century, the walls were covered with plaster, some window openings were widened, in the southern part next to the gate tower two new, low-rise buildings (probably a stable and a coach house) were added, and arcades were created at the eastern and western curtain walls. These rebuildings blurred the late gothic severity of the castle.

Current state

   The castle is preserved in the form of a ruin surrounded by an irrigated moat. The full circumference of the walls and the ruin of the main castle house with marked internal divisions and a fragment of the gatehouse, which is about 18 meters high, are visible. After carrying out conservation activities, the castle is open to the public. Entrance is free.

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bibliography:
Guerquin B., Zamki w Polsce, Warszawa 1984.

Leksykon zamków w Polsce, L.Kajzer, S.Kołodziejski, J.Salm, Warszawa 2003.
Kajzer L. Zamki i dwory obronne w Polsce centralnej, Warszawa 2004.
Zamki środkowopolskie. Część I, Besiekiery, Lutomiersk, Dom Stary w Łęczycy, red. T.Poklewski [w:] Acta Archeologica Lodziensia, nr 26, Łódź 1977.