According to the chronicler Jan Długosz, the stone castle was erected in the second half of the 14th century by the Cracow bishop Florian from Mokrsko. Perhaps sooner, just after the location of the town in 1355, the first timber buildings were erected by the bishop Bodzęta (Bodzanta), but it were removed during the construction of a stone castle, which became a defensive residence and administrative center of episcopal estates. The first reference to the castle appeared in 1408, when the starost of Bodzentyn was noted, and in 1410, when King Władysław Jagiełło was to be at the bishops’ court.
In the following centuries, on the initiative of the Kraków bishops (Zbigniew Oleśnicki around the mid-fifteenth century and Fryderyk Jagiellończyk at the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries), numerous late-medieval extensions and modernizations were carried out. Some of them could have forced a fire from 1413 that damaged the castle, especially its wooden elements. Their renovation was to be carried out in 1420 by a carpenter named Franek, known from documents. In 1572, Franciszek Krasiński began the renaissance rebuilding, which finished bishop Piotr Myszkowski at the end of the sixteenth century.
The importance of the castle began to decrease after 1642, from the moment of completion of the construction, at the behest of bishop Jakub Zadzik, the new palace of bishops in Kielce. Still, in the years 1657-1691 baroque transformations were made, as a result of which the castle gained the form of a comfortable palace residence, devoid of defensive features. The end of splendor brought 1797, when the castle was taken over by the Austrian authorities, which transformed it into a granary and a military hospital. From 1815 it fell into disrepair.
The castle was erected in the western part of the fortified town, on the steep and high bank of the Psarka River. In the highest point of the area, in the north-west corner, there were residential and representative buildings, and a little lower, on the southern side, there was an outer bailey. Both parts were connected with the town fortifications touching the north-east corner of the castle and the south-west corner of the outer bailey.
Probably the earliest element of the castle was a stone four-sided tower, with the top turning into a cylindrical part. In the first half of the 15th century, a two-story residential house with a basement was added to it from the east. It probably formed a small courtyard on the west side. In addition, the castle already then consisted of a perimeter wall connected with the town defensive walls, whereby the residential building was located on the shorter side at the northern curtain of the wall. The entrance to the castle courtyard was from the town side. Probably in the fifteenth century, the southern ward was fortified, surrounded by its own defensive wall with four or five small, rectangular towers. Two were located in the line of the west wall, two in the north-east and south-west corners, and another perhaps in the vicinity of the entrance gate. In the same phase of expansion, a new section of the wall was erected between the corner of the residential building and the northern part of the town walls, separating the area of the castle garden.
At the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, a new residential wing (the so-called great house) was erected, adjoining the older building on the south side and filling the eastern part of the courtyard in the north-west corner of the complex. It was a two-story building with a basement (three-story in total), 14×38 meters in size, equipped with two turrets in the corners on the west side, set at an angle of 45 °, originally containing stairs and latrines. The lowest storey had economic functions, the first floor was residential, and the highest had representative functions. The communication was provided by stairs in the lobby, and between the rooms a wooden porch from the east. The main entrance probably led from the courtyard, i.e. from the west. In the first years of the 16th century, a late-gothic eastern avant-corps with a bay window was added to the building, housing a castle chapel on the second floor. The foot of the bay window was covered with buttresses, plastered and painted with red paint.
Fragments of all three wings of the residential building have survived to this day, of which the southern wing is in the best condition. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find elements of the original medieval building among the late renaissance – baroque elements. The castle is open to visitors throughout the year.
Brykowska M., Zamek biskupów krakowskich w Bodzentynie. Przemiany zespołu i architektury w okresie XIV-XVIII wieku [w:] Siedziby biskupów krakowskich na terenie dawnego województwa sandomierskiego, red. L.Kajzer, Kielce 1997.
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, red. L.Kajzer, Warszawa 2003.
Wróblewski S., Zamki i dwory obronne województwa sandomierskiego w średniowieczu, Nowy Sącz 2006.