Chrzelice – castle

History

   The castle in Chrzelice was probably built in the first half of the fourteenth century, when the cylindrical main tower was built on the initiative of the Opole princes. In the second half of that century a brick defensive circuit with an entrance gate and a three-storey residential building were erected. The first mention of the castle in Chrzelice appeared in 1380, on the occasion of the transaction between Henry of Niemodlin and Peter Heidenreich. For the second time the castle was recorded in a document from 1383 containing the division of the Opole principality between prince Władysław of Opole and his nephews.
   In 1388 the castle became the property of Władysław of Opole and during the Hussite invasions in the years 1428-1434 it was damaged. In 1437, Prince Bolko V took over half of the castle and all the property under his control. Chrzelice had to be a significant stronghold then, as it was the place where the dispute between Bishop Konrad IV the Elder and Prince Bolko V was settled in 1443. After his death, it became the property of the brother of the Czech king, George of Podebrady.
   At the end of the fifteenth century, the castle became the seat of knights-robbers, which led to an armed expedition of the Opole Piasts and the capture of Chrzelice, which then belonged to them until 1532. During the fighting, the round castle tower was seriously damaged, which was then renovated maintaining only half of its height. During the renovation, a new octagonal tower was erected in the northwest corner of the walls.
   After the death of the last Piast of Opole, John the Good, in 1532 the castle came into the possession of Silesian knightly families. In 1557, together with the property, it passed as a pledge to Wacław Posadowski, while in 1578 Jerzy Prószkowski, the owner of nearby Prószków, took the lease of Chrzelice. Probably around 1580, he carried out a Renaissance reconstruction of his new seat, erecting a small building, probably of a residential function, in the southeast corner of the courtyard and performing sgraffito wall decoration. In the second half of the 17th century, the castle was thoroughly rebuilt into a baroque palace, as a result of which it lost completely medieval character. After the Second World War, until the 1960s, the building was used and inhabited. Unfortunately, due to deteriorating condition, it was abandoned shortly afterwards, and due to many years of neglect and lack of a host fell into ruin.

Architecture

   The castle was erected on an artificial island, in the middle of the pond located on the road connecting Biała and Prudnik with Opole. In the second half of the fourteenth century, it consisted of a four-sided outline of brick walls in the form of an irregular trapezoid. The dominant and oldest element of the castle was a cylindrical tower, erected in the first half of the fourteenth century in the northwest corner. It was built on a circular plan with a diameter of over 9 meters. Its circular interior, probably dungeon cell, was about 3 meters wide. Perimeter walls, reaching about more than three meters in thickness, were made in a fairly regular gothic, two-colored bond, with stronger burnt bricks. Walls were reinforced with buttresses from the outside along the entire perimeter. The top of the curtains was shaped as a battlement with rectangular gaps, behind which a wall-walk was placed. In the south-eastern curtain there was a gate to which probably led a wooden bridge connecting the south-eastern promontory of the island with the mainland.
   There were two short, irregular, four-sided houses in the courtyard. The larger and older one fit into the southern corner, the smaller one from the second half of the 16th century stood in the eastern corner. The southern building was built in the second half of the fourteenth century on a diamond plan in a two-track layout, in such a way that the two internal walls were connected by toothing with fragments of two curtains of the defensive walls. At the basement level, it housed two rooms in the southern part and a passage located along the northern wall. The basement interiors were covered with barrel vaults with slightly pointed arches, based on foundation offsets. The layout of the rooms on the ground floor was similar to the basement. The entrance was in the north-east corner and led to the vestibule, one track wide, from which were the entrances to two rooms: the shorter east one and west one occupying the entire length of the building. At least one window was placed in its northern wall. The chambers on the ground floor and on the first floor had wooden ceilings and were plastered with thin white lime. The walls of the top floor were probably built in half-timbered construction. Vertical communication was probably provided by wooden stairs adjacent to the eastern wall of the building, while the basements were accessible directly from the courtyard. The building was covered by two parallel gable roofs with ridges built on the east-west axis, equipped with high triangular gables visible from the courtyard. Probably at the height of the upper floor, the building was connected to the main tower with a wooden bridge, which was destroyed in the event of an emergency.
   Probably in the second half of the 15th century or at the beginning of the 16th century, probably after the destruction or collapse of the cylindrical main tower, another tower was added in the north-west corner of the perimeter. Its brick core was built on a polygonal plan, using a buttress strengthening the corner of the defensive wall. The entrance was probably placed from the level of the curtain wall-walk and connected to the defensive floor with stairs in the thickness of the wall. Staircase lighting was provided by narrow slit windows visible from the north. The highest defensive storey was probably a hoarding, which was covered with a hip roof.

Current state

   The medieval, brick castle of the Opole princes is now embedded in the form of a later, baroque palace complex. It survived the period of World War II, however, as a result of the lack of renovations, it gradually turned into a ruin, without ceilings, roofs and partly walls.

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bibliography:
Legendziewicz A., Od średniowiecznej warowni do barokowej rezydencji – historia powstania i przekształceń zamku w Chrzelicach [w:] Opolski Informator Konserwatorski, Opole 2013.

Leksykon zamków w Polsce, red. L.Kajzer, Warszawa 2003.