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 walls. In its south-east parts were located upper castle, erected on an oval plan. The main element was a four-sided tower. The development of buildings along the defensive perimeter with a lenticular courtyard on the longer axis of the castle is connected with the younger phase of the construction. Outside the south-eastern curtain, a three-story house was also than built on a plan of a bend rectangle. From the side of the slope he was supported by three powerful buttresses. It could had a representative functions, although it is not known if the net vault preserved in it, is not a result of a regothization. At that time, there was also a kitchen building with a characteristic bottle chimney, added to the southwestern section of the perimeter wall.
The outer bailey with an oval outline was adjoined to the upper castle from the south. From the south-east there was a courtyard with an entrance gate, preceded by a moat carved into the rock. Behind it lay the lower castle with its own fortifications. It was surrounded by a wall topped with battlements and additionally reinforced with cylindrical towers, protruding from 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.
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Leksykon zamków w Polsce, red. L.Kajzer, Warszawa 2003.
Pilch J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Dolnego Śląska, Warszawa 2005.