Bolesławiec – castle

History

   The first mention of the Bolesław the Pious castle in Bolesławiec comes from 1268. We do not know its appearance, it was probably a wooden object. The border location of Bolesławiec and the threat from Silesia under Czech influence, caused in the thirties of the fourteenth century that king Casimir the Great ordered the construction of a new, brick castle. It was created among the riverside wetlands in the place of the former castrum of Bolesław the Pious. At the end of the fourteenth century, together with other strongholds of the Wieluń region, it became the property of prince Władysław Opolczyk, but after the war with king Jagiełło in the years 1391 – 1401 it was captured by the Polish army and became the seat of the starosty. Still in connection with the conflict, maybe around 1390, modernization works were started on it, which led to the creation of new buildings and the main tower.
    From the fifteenth century under the management of tenutaries, until 1615, only minor construction works were undertaken at the castle, mainly repairs. Despite this, since the second half of the sixteenth century, the condition of buildings has steadily deteriorated. Only works from 1615 related to the activities of starost Jan Sasin Karaśnicki, and then renovations from 1615-1645 by Kacper Denhoff led to the transformation of the castle into a more comfortable, early modern residence. In 1704 the castle was blown up by the Swedish army and henceforth served as a free quarry for the surrounding population.

Architecture

    The castle was built on a natural, but artificially raised hill, located among meadows and wetlands near the banks of the Prosna River, which protected it from the west. It was built on high foundations of erratic stones, and the upper parts were built of bricks, combined with sand-lime mortar. Initially, it was a simple building consisting of perimeter walls of an oval-like shape (44 x 66 meters) with the northern part cut off. The wall was led by 23 short, straight sections, with a total length of about 170 meters. Its thickness reached 2.4 meters, and the height reached over 7 meters. At a level of about 5 meters above the foundation, there was a defenders wall-walk, secured by a battlement with merlons placed at intervals of 0.7-0.8 meters. The quadrilateral gatehouse was extended entirely in front the fortification ring in the southern part of the castle. It measured 6.5 x 7.5 meters and housed a 2.5 meter wide gate passage closed by a drawbridge over the ditch. The Inner buildings were originally a wooden structures in the western part of the inner courtyard.
   At the end of the fourteenth century, at the initiative of Władysław Opolczyk, castle was expanded by erecting an octagonal main tower and adding two buildings to the eastern part of the perimeter of the wall. The southern one had dimensions of 10.5 x 14 meters, was a single-space and one-storey building (but with basement) of the character of a princely hall. The second building measuring 6.6×21.6 meters was planned as residential, but was never completed, and was destroyed during the siege at the end of the fourteenth century. During this period, the perimeter walls and gatehouse were also raised, and a latrine was added between the newly erected buildings.
   The octagonal tower was over 22 meters high, 8 meters in diameter and 4.2 meters long side. It was located deep inside the courtyard, on the opposite side of the gate, as an additional protection and final defense point. It was built on a nearly 4-meter foundation of erratic stones combined with lime mortar, and in the ground part of bricks, of course also combined with mortar. The original, only entrance to it was at the height of the crown of the perimeter walls, at the level of the third floor. Inside the basement, a domed vault was used, while the upper floors were separated by wooden ceilings. Vertical communication was provided by a staircase in the wall thickness placed between the third and fourth floors, and between the lower ones timber stairs or ladders were used.
   Rebuilding of the castle from the 15th-16th centuries did not introduce any significant changes, only a two-story residential building known from records was created between Opolczyk’s houses, although it is possible that it was a converted building from the end of the 14th century. The neighboring timber kitchen and the wooden stable in the north-eastern part of the courtyard could also come be from that time.
   In the 15th century, a small outer bailey was also developed in the vicinity of the castle. It rose on a sandy foothill in the Prosna Valley south of the castle about 30 meters away. Its buildings were entirely timber. It was surrounded by a fence reinforced with wooden towers and a ditch, and a wooden bridge led to the castle by the river. There were six towers, the seventh appeared only at the end of the 16th century and was probably connected with the gate. They were small buildings, covered with shingles, roofed.

Current state

   The main element of the castle which has survived to the present day, almost entirely, is a large, octagonal tower – bergfried. Both in the ground floor and on the first floor, entrance openings have been preserved, although the lower one was pierced in early modern times. Fragments of perimeter walls are also visible. Entrance to the ruin is free.

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bibliography:
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, L.Kajzer, S.Kołodziejski, J.Salm, Warszawa 2003.
Pietrzak J., Zamki i dwory obronne w dobrach państwowych prowincji wielkopolskiej, Łódź 2003.
Poklewski-Koziełł T., Średniowieczne zamki między Prosną i Pilicą, Łódź 1992.