The castle called than Fürstenstein (Fürstenberg) was built in the years 1288-1291 with the foundation of the prince of Świdnica-Jawor Bolko I, who moved to the new fortress its seat from Lwówek, although it is not entirely clear whether the oldest preserved records do not refer to the nearby Stary Książ castle. The oldest known document directly related to the Książ Castle comes from 1337, and refer to the pastures that were located versus castrum Fürstenberg. In 1355, the castle was mentioned in information about the subordination of castles located in the vicinity of today’s Wałbrzych by the prince Bolko II. Castle was than captured and Kekelon of Chirnen detained, a knight who in the light of earlier documents appeared as one of the most prominent figures in the principality. The background of this rebellion of knights and the motives of the prince’s action are not entirely clear. After Bolko II regained the castle, a new princely burgrave was established – Bernard von Zedlitz. After the death of princess Agnes in 1392 and the expiration of this line of Silesian Piasts, Książ along with the rest of the principality went under the rule of the Bohemian monarch, Wenceslas IV. In 1410, the administrator Johann von Chotienitz bought the castle from royal hands.
During the Hussite Wars, subsequent owners were engaged in robbery, attacking nearby villages, towns and trade routes. In 1463 the castle was taken by the Czech king George from Podiebrad and he placed new supervisors in it. However, after some time, they also began to commit robbery, which led to another punitive expedition in 1482, of this time Hungarian and Wrocław forces, under the leadership of George von Stein. The new starost George von Stein has made a significant expansion of the castle, including the southern wing, called “Maciej’s Wing”.
In 1509, the building was leased to the Hoberg family (Hochbergs). In 1603 or 1605, the Hochbergs received a castle and property belonging to it as hereditary property of the family. During the Thirty Years War Książ was partially destroyed and plundered. Damaged fortifications were rebuilt in 1648 for garden terraces and a north-west wing was also added. The next reconstruction in the Baroque style was commissioned in the years 1705-1732 by Konrad Ernst Maksymilian von Hochberg. In the years 1909-1923, prince Jan Henryk Hochberg, prince von Pless, made another reconstruction, adding a new south-west wing with two corner towers. The last of the Hochberg family in the castle was Maria Teresa Oliwia Hochberg von Pless, forced in 1940 to leave Książ. Military institutions were set up in the castle, and under it, Nazi prisoners were forced to dig a network of tunnels. After the war, the Polish authorities started to renovate the devastated monument.
The castle was built on a rocky promontory, with three sides ended with steep slopes falling from the south, west and partially north towards the Pełcznica river valley. In its south-eastern part there was an upper ward, erected on an oval plan, to which the only convenient access road led from the north-eastern neck.
The main element of the castle was a four-sided tower, situated on the front of the upper ward, in its north-eastern corner. It was connected on two corners with the perimeter wall, which behind it separated a small, lenticular courtyard on the longer axis of the castle. The medieval phase of construction was also associated with the creation of buildings along the defensive circuit. Outside the south-eastern curtain, a three-story house was built on a bent rectangular plan. From the side of the slope, it was supported by three huge buttresses. It could have a representative function, although it is not known whether the net vault preserved in it is not the result of regothisation. At that time, a kitchen building with a characteristic bottle chimney could also exist, added to the south-west section of the perimeter wall.
The lower oval-shaped ward adjoined the upper ward from the north-east. There was a courtyard with an entrance gate, preceded by a ditch carved in the rock. Behind it lay the outer bailey with its own fortifications. It was surrounded by a wall topped with battlements and additionally reinforced with cylindrical towers, protruding in front of the face of the defensive perimeter.
In today’s Baroque – neorenaissance castle shape it is difficult to find its medieval, original appearance. The main tower is the best visible element from this period. Książ Castle together with interiors is open to visitors. The complex also has a gastronomic section and a hotel. The opening hours of the ticket offices can be checked on the official website of the castle here.
Boguszewicz A., Corona Silesiae. Zamki Piastów fürstenberskich na południowym pograniczu księstwa jaworskiego, świdnickiego i ziębickiego do połowy XIV wieku, Wrocław 2010.
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, red. L.Kajzer, Warszawa 2003.
Pilch J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Dolnego Śląska, Warszawa 2005.