The castle was built at the end of the 14th century by the Wyszota z Kórnika, the brother of the bishop of Poznań, Mikołaj, who perhaps also participated in the financing of the construction. Probably involvement of Wyszota in the internal struggles of the Wielkopolska families Grzymalits and Nałęczs affected the decision to build a defensive, brick seat. The castle was erected in the Kórnik settlement, which was situated at the intersection of an important route from Poznań to Wrocław and a less important route leading to Kostrzyn.
The first reconstruction is known from the act written in 1426 between Mikołaj of Górka, the chancellor of the Poznań chapter, and the carpenter Mikołaj from Poznań. The utilitarian area of the castle and its defensive features were then expanded. Another expansion is connected with the years 1555-1574 and the voivode of Poznań, Stanisław Górka. The castle then became a renaissance defensive residence. After the death of Stanisław Górka in 1592, the castle was owned by Czarnkowski, and in 1610 it was sold by Andrzej Czarnkowski to Zygmunt Grudziński. From 1676, the castle was owned by the Działyński family. In the second half of the 18th century, Teofila Potulicka from Działyński family rebuilt the castle into a French-style palace. The final change in the appearance of the object was made in the nineteenth century by Tytus Działyński in the style of English neo-gothic.
The medieval castle was built of bricks on a stone foundation, on a mound protruding from a small island on the lake. The waters of the lake provided protection from the west, while from the south there was a boggy and rough area. The remaining sides were protected by an irrigated moat. The castle had the form of an irregular quadrangle (in particular, the south curtain of the wall was curved) with a cylindrical main tower with a diameter of 8 meters in the north-east corner. It controlled the entrance gate to the courtyard and, at the same time, the road from Poznań to Wrocław passing through Kórnik. Leading from the north, the entrance was reinforced with a gatehouse with dimensions of 6.5×8.5 meters, protruding from the perimeter of the walls. The residential building was a house with a length of 10 and a width of 9 meters, perhaps two or three-storey. Probably like other buildings of this type in the Middle Ages, it did not have internal divisions into smaller rooms. It was probably located in the eastern part of the courtyard, as the western one was wetter (located closer to the lake) and used only during the development in the fifteenth century. Its warming could have been provided by a tiled stove, as tile fragments with a tracery ornament and a fish bladder motif were found. They are dated to the second half of the fifteenth century.
After the rebuilding from the first half of the 15th century, two half-timbered houses were built (on a stone foundation), three-story, with dimensions of 5.5 x 11 meters, which formed the shape of the letter L. Inside, the individual storeys separated wooden, flat ceilings. Near the houses, two projections in the forms of semi-cylindrical towers were created (the diameter of one of them was 3 meters). All these new constructions were covered with shingle roofs, and the western buildings according to the contract were to receive a kind of decorative crenellation. A wooden attic was also added to one of the pre-existing buildings, perhaps the main brick dwelling house. The new storey was to be intended for a grain warehouse. Master Nicholas also received orders for some works in the upper parts of the gatehouse, but their goal is not entirely clear. It is known, however, that a new drawbridge and portcullis were made at that time.
Numerous reconstructions completely obliterated the original appearance of the castle, which medieval walls are hidden in an early modern block. The castle now houses a museum with many unique exhibits: furniture, paintings by Polish and European masters, sculptures, numismatics, Polish and eastern military, as well as porcelain and silver art craft. The castle is also the seat of the Biblioteka Kórnicka PAN, one of the largest libraries in Poland. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday: 10.00-17.00, and out of season 10.00-16.00.
Karłowska-Kamzowa A., Zamek kórnicki w średniowieczu, Wrocław 1968.
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, L.Kajzer, S.Kołodziejski, J.Salm, Warszawa 2003.