Niedzica – castle Dunajec


   The first mention of the castle Dunajec dates from 1325. Its owners were then the brothers Rykolf and Kokosz Berzevicz. They were grandsons of the Spiš komes, Rudiger of Tyrol, who in 1209 founded Niedzica, after receiving it from the king of Hungary, Andrew II. Initially, the castle was a Hungarian watchtower on the border with Poland. It was probably extended by another owner, palatine Wilhelm Drugeth. In 1425, the entire so-called Dunajec estate was in the hands of Peter Schwarz from Berzevicz, who was a thesaurarius of Sigismund of Luxembourg. In the 60s of the 15th century, castle passed into the possession of Zapolya family, then Łaski, and from 1589 it belonged to the Horwaths, who enlarged and modernized the building, giving it a similar appearance to the present one. Then the castle was leased to the Italian-Hungarian Giovanelli family. They were not interested in the stronghold, which began to fall into ruin. After the extinction of the Giovanelli family at the end of the 18th century, the castle passed into the hands of Andrzej Horvath. The new owner rebuilt the fortresses. In 1858 the castle was taken over by the Hungarian family of the Salamons, who remained its owners until 1945. After the end of the First World War, the castle was located on the territory of Poland.


   The first castle from the beginning of the 14th century consisted only of timber buildings and a water cistern carved in the rock. From the west it was ended by a natural earth rampart. A stone castle from around 1330 consisted of a perimeter wall and a residential house added from the inside to the western section of wall. The wall was about 4,5 meters high and was crowned with battlement. The three-storey residential house had three rooms on each of the two lower floors.

   Around 1347-1470 in the south-east parts was erected a two-storey residential range, ended with a chapel, covered with a rib vault. At the same time, the lower defensive circuit was created from the west, with a gatehouse tower replacing the former earth ramparts. In the years 1470-1487, today’s middle and lower castle were built. The defensive circuit was shifted westward and equipped from the south with a new gatehouse. In the lower castle stood a stone house and timber outbuildings. On the upper castle was built the three-story tower above the northern part.

Current state

   Today, the castle performs museum and hotel functions, being one of the greatest historical attractions in the southern part of Poland. Behind the entrance gate and the hall there is a courtyard of the lower castle. Within this part of the castle there are guest rooms. In the museum section, you can see the so-called Salamon Chambers, equipped with items from the 16th to the 19th century. A timber staircase leads to the observation deck. Through the next gate leads the entrance to the upper castle and to the castle dungeons, which served as cellars, as well as a prison. On the edge of the courtyard of the upper castle there is a well carved in solid limestone rock with a depth of over 60 meters. In the Lord’s Chambers in the upper castle can be seen: a hunting room, a salt room and a guard house. The prices and tour dates can be checked on the official website of the castle here.

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Leksykon zamków w Polsce, L.Kajzer, S.Kołodziejski, J.Salm, Warszawa 2003.
Moskal, K. Zamki w dziejach Polski i Słowacji, Nowy Sącz 2004.
Sypek A., Sypek.R., Zamki i obiekty warowne ziemi krakowskiej, Warszawa 2004.