The castle in Kłodzko was built on the site of the early medieval hillfort named Kladsko from the tenth century, belonging to the Czech ruler Slavkov. It was of key importance in the region of the Kłodzko Valley, as it controlled the passage in the valley of the Nysa river, which ran a trade route leading from southern Europe to Pomerania. For this reason, this place has been repeatedly the subject of fights between Czech and Polish rulers.
Kłodzko was the seat from which the Kłodzko Land was managed since the eleventh century. In 1114, the claimant to the Czech throne, Soběslav, captured the stronghold and set fire to its wooden fortifications, but probably rebuilt it as the Czech ruler in 1129. Over time, at the foot of the hillfort, at the end of the 12th century, on the south and east sides formed two boroughs, the origin of the future town. At the junction of these settlements there was a marketplace. The location of the town connecting the two centers, took place in the first half of the 13th century, probably shortly before 1250.
Along with the castle, most probably at the end of the 13th century, brick fortifications of the town began to be built, replacing the former earth and wooden fortifications. The source mentions confirm their extension in the fifteenth century to the outer, second ring of walls. The great defensive values of the castle and the town was confirmed by the unsuccessful attempt of conquer by the Hussites in 1428 and the failed attack of the army of Matthias Corvinus in 1470.
In 1459, the Kłodzko land became an independent county and belonged to Podebrady family. A year later, George from Podebrady approved all the privileges of the town, thanks to which Kłodzko remained loyal to him during the wars with Catholics, even when in 1467 when the Pope put an anathema on town. Thanks to George‘s efforts, after the fire of 1469, the fortifications were renovated and modernized, during which among others gates received new gatehouses.
After prolonged fighting and riots from the second half of the 15th century, Kłodzko depopulated and became impoverished. It was also influenced by numerous epidemics (among others in 1430, 1472, 1493) and subsequent fires (in 1493) and floods of Nysa (in 1454 and 1475). Probably it was not without influence to the condition of the city’s fortifications and the castle. The improvement of the situation and entry into the period of prosperity occurred in the mid-sixteenth century. Thanks to that in the years 1557-1560, the Kłodzko castle was extended by enlarging the outer ward and giving the renaissance lookout to residential parts. In 1622, it was destroyed by the imperial army during the Thirty Years’ War, and at the end of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the medieval castle was completely rebuilt into an early modern bastion stronghold. In the 19th century, the demolition of the town walls was also begun.
Town fortifications were erected on an irregular plan similar to a half of a moon. It were reinforced with half towers on a rectangular and semi-circle plan, and joined by a gate with the Saint John Bridge, led over the Młynówka River. They were also connected with the fortifications of the castle. In the second half of the fifteenth century, the towers and gates were crowned with pyramidal helmets. Apart from the Upper Bridge Gate and the Lower Gate on the Sand Island, there were three other ones: Czech from the west, Green (Zarzecka) from the south – west and Ząbkowicka (Hospital) Gate from north – east, and wickets: Water and Bath.
There is no data to reproduce original appearance of the castle. According to the Czech chronicler Cosmas of Prague at the turn of the 11th and 12th century, there was a stone palas on the castle hill. The remaining buildings and fortifications were probably wooden and earth. Later in the Middle Ages, the castle was an irregular defensive complex, closely connected to the town’s fortifications, with numerous secular and sacred buildings, courtyards and accompanying buildings. It is known that it consisted of an upper and a lower part (an outer bailey), separated by a wall and a moat. The entrance to the castle was placed in the massive four-sided gate tower visible in the drawing of M.Merian. The upper part reportedly had three courtyards. In the last quarter of the fifteenth century, on one of them a two-aisle Green Hall was erected, decorated with paintings with floral motifs, used on the occasion of important audiences and ceremonies. In the upper castle there was also a chapel, probably under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and at least two quadrilateral towers, depicted on a 16th century veduta.
Most of the town walls of Kłodzko were demolished in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Currently, only a few fragments are at the end of Traugutt street, along Nad Kanałem street and below Łukasińskiego street. There are no traces left of the medieval Kłodzko Castle, it has been completely transformed into an early modern fortress.
Broniewski T., Kłodzko, Warszawa 1970.
Frydrych B., Oniszczuk-Awiżeń K., Kłodzko w średniowieczu, Kłodzko 2009.
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, red. L.Kajzer, Warszawa 2003.
Przyłęcki M., Mury obronne miast Dolnego Śląska, Wrocław 1970.