Jawor – castle


   The castle in Jawor was a castellan center and one of the main residences of the Świdnica-Jawor Piast dynasty. It also served as the watchtower of a nearby ferry on Nysa Szalona. The oldest castle consisting of a residential defense tower surrounded by wooden and earth fortifications was created in the twenties of the 13th century. Around the middle of the 13th century, probably on the initiative of prince Bolko I the Strict, the construction of a stone castle began.
   In the absence of the princes, the castle starost was in charge and the castellan, since the fourteenth century, the burgrave or his deputy ruled the castle. In 1278, Henry was the head of the castle in Jawor. In the years 1304-1309, the office of staroste was held by Hannemann, in the years 1347-1377 the function of Jawor burgrave, managing the castle’s fiefdom, was played by Peczolde von Betschow, and in the years 1377-1396 by Gunther Ronow. During the reigns of Henry I of Jawor, Bolko II and duchess Agnes, the representatives of the Zedlitz family, who came to Silesia at the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, were the most often found in prince’s offices. After the death of princess Agnes in 1392 and the expiration of the Świdnica-Jawor line, Jawor was taken over by the starosts of the Czech kings.
The castle was rebuilt and destroyed many times, among others due to a fire in 1552, after 1568 and after the destruction of the Thirty Years’ War. The reconstruction unified the building’s and completely obliterated the original style features and defensive elements. In 1746, by the will of the king of Prussia, a facility for the mentally ill was established in the castle, and then a prison that functioned until 1956.


   The south-western area of the old town in Jawor, which was occupied by the castle, was in the early Middle Ages a peninsula, surrounded by the waters of Nysa Szalona. An additional natural advantage of this place was the several-meter slope of the northern bank of the backwaters.
   The 13th-century castle was a vast complex on the plan of an irregular triangle surrounded entirely by defensive walls. The oldest element was a stone, rectangular tower with dimensions of 6.3 x 7.6 meters, placed in the middle of a yard with a diameter of about 30 meters. Later it was replaced by another bigger one. The entrance to the castle was from the north-west. The main residental house, measuring 10 × 25 meters, stood on the western side and at the same time it was a curtain of the defensive wall. That is why its west elevation had thick walls up to 2.5 meters and an arrowslits. The building had a basement and two rooms on each floor, vaulted in the ground floor. The second house was located from the south and was divided into six narrow rooms with separate entrances from the side of the courtyard. It probably performed economic functions. The other buildings were timber.
The whole castle, situated on the peninsula, was cut off from the rest of the area by an earth ramparts and a moat.
   Expansion from the fourteenth to the fifteenth centuries consisted on the enlargement of residential buildings, among others, by adding another storey to the south wing. In its eastern part there was a castle chapel. Around 1510 in the south-west corner the artillery bastion stood. The works from around 1568 transformed the gothic castle into a renaissance residence. In its southwestern corner of the courtyard, a new tower stood then.

Current state

   In the castle, once an important stronghold of Silesia, it is hard to see its medieval beginnings today. Completely rebuilt, it lost its gothic and even renaissance character. What is worse, it is neglected and not renovated. In recent years, only the tower was repaired in which the viewpoint of the city has been arranged.

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Leksykon zamków w Polsce, red. L.Kajzer, Warszawa 2003.
Rybotycki J., Jawor, pradzieje i średniowiecze, Wrocław 2015.
Rybotycki J., Zamek piastowski w Jaworze, Jawor 1988.