The Czorsztyn castle was originally called Wronin, and its founder was a convent of Poor Clares from Stary Sącz, which at the end of the 13th century was the owner of the whole land of Sądecz. From 1348, the castle was already called Czorsztyn. At the time, it was a royal property, acting as a guard protecting the border and customs chamber on the trade route. It was also the administrative center of the starosty and one of the most important defenses of the country. From the fifteenth century, it remained in the hands of starosts and tenants, among others Pieniążek, Paniowski, and Dembiński families. The castle was besieged and destroyed several times. In 1651, it was briefly controlled by the leader of the peasants rebellion, Aleksander Kostka Napierski. After a two-day siege, he was defeated by the army of the Cracow’s bishop Piotr Gembicki, and the leaders of the uprising were captured and executed. The stronghold fell into ruin in the 18th century, first devastated by the Cossack army, and then burnt after a lightning strike.
The original building occupying the top of the hill was timber. Probably at the end of the 13th or at the beginning of the 14th century, a free-standing, cylindrical tower with a diameter of 10 meters was erected in the northern part of the castle. The stone wall was added to the tower with a thickness of 2,2 meters, running along the edges of the hill. This created an irregular complex, with the upper and the middle ward, separated by the wall. In the next phase, a residential building was erected along the western section of the upper castle walls, divided into three rooms. The entrance to the castle was located near the tower.
The next expansion dated to the 15th century, consisted in the elevation of an additional defensive line on the eastern side of the upper and middle ward. The wall, 1,1 meter thick, closed the entrance passage from the north and east, additionally reinforced by a gatehouse. The old entrance was also strengthened, putting a gate’s tower with a trapdoor in front of it. At the beginning of the 16th century, the lower ward was built from the north, surrounded by a stone wall supported by buttresses. The middle ward was modernized at that time. After the destruction of the cylindrical tower, the economic buildings and a two-arcaded, brick porch were erected in the courtyard. In front of the gate of the middle ward in the north-west corner, a small pentagonal tower was built.
The last major modernization was made by starost Jan Baranowski in the second quarter of the 17th century. He expanded the living quarters, widened the economic buildings and erected a quadrangular gate tower supported by two buttresses and adapted to use of firearms. It replaced the old gatehouse of the middle castle.
The castle has been preserved in the form of a ruin with the main element in the form of a seventeenth century, foursided tower. After carrying out conservation works in recent years, it is now open to visitors: from 01/05 to 30/9 from 9:00 to 18:00 and from 01/10 to 30/04 from 10:00 to 15:00. Unfortunately, some elements of the castle are covered with tin canopies, and the lower castle is fenced with a little aesthetic, makeshift, metal fence. Let’s hope that after the renovation works, also the lower castle will be exposed in a nicer way.
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