Oporów – castle

History

   The first wooden mansion in Oporów was probably built in the middle of the 14th century. The brick castle was erected in the years 1434-1449 by the bishop of Kujawy, Władysław Oporowski, although it is possible that the first works were taken during the life of the voivode Mikołaj Oporowski in the beginning of the 15th century. The castle was the center of the vast estates of the Oporowski family of the Sulima coat of arms.
   Władysław Oporowski held high ranks, both church and secular. He received a thorough legal education studying at foreign universities, and after returning in 1420, he became a professor at the University of Kraków, which he became a rector after six years. He belonged to the most influential politicians at the court of Władysław Jagiełło and Kazimierz Jagiellończyk, whom he was a trusted advisor. In the years 1428-1434 he was the Vice-Chancellor of the Crown, then, thanks to royal support, he obtained the Włocławek bishopric, and in 1449 he was elected Archbishop of Gniezno and Primate of Poland. He was also considered to be an expert of the Teutonic Knights and a clever diplomat, which is why he was entrusted with conducting arrangements with the Order. The castle which he founded was a visible sign of his influence and wealth. After his death in Oporów in 1453, his estate and the castle fell to his brother, the voivode of Łęczyca, Piotr Oporowski. After the death of Piotr in 1467, his three sons took goods: Włocławek bishop Andrzej, voivode of Włocławek and Brześć Jan, and the castellan of Brześć, Mikołaj. This was the last generation of the family of great importance. In the sixteenth century, there were no outstanding persons, and the goods were fragmented among many heirs, which had only the good side, that the castle was not subject to any major early modern transformations.
  
At the beginning of the 17th century, the castle was taken over by the Tarnów family, coat of arms of Rola, then Sołłohub, Korzeniowscy, Pociejów, the Orsettis family and the Karscy family. Renovations made in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries caused only minor alterations. From around 1840, there is an annex in the courtyard, so-called “Kredens” and the neo-gothic portal of the entrance gate and terrace in front of the bridge. Thorough conservation works made in the years 1962-1965 removed some of the reconstruction from the 19th century, restoring the original silhouette of the roofs and the porch of the residential house. Portals, gothic windows and wooden, polychrome ceilings were unveiled from the plaster.

Architecture

   The castle is situated in the middle of a small mound surrounded by an irrigated moat, through which a wooden drawbridge was originally placed. It is a brick stronghold on the foundations of glacial erratic stones. In the first phase a four-sided, four-storey tower was built with two buttresses. In the second phase from the beginning of the 15th century it was included in the quadrilateral of the perimeter walls (1.7 meters thick), and to the south of it there was a gateway. At the same time, it was planned to build a residential house at the eastern wall, but this intention was never implemented. In the third phase, a southern house was erected, and a wooden house was erected next to it. At that time, a second, horseshoe tower was built on the eastern wall.
  
Thus, the castle was finally built on an irregular quadrilateral plan measuring 25×30 meters, consisting of buildings grouped around a small courtyard: a one-story southern home with dimensions of 8,5×23,5 meters, a four-sided western tower measuring 8,3×9,6 meters and a tower with a chapel located on the axis of the eastern curtain. The southern house was erected as a two storey building with a basement with three rooms in the ground floor, the middle of which served as the entrance hall. One of the side rooms (the so-called treasure) was covered with a rib vault, all the other ones (also on the first floor) were topped with flat, wooden ceilings. The first floor was representative and residential. A large hall was situated there, and a smaller chamber adjoined to it. The ground floor and cellars traditionally served the economic role, where pantries and warehouses were located.
   The western tower, apart from the obvious function of the gate defense, also served as a residential function. Connected with the porch in the crown of the defensive walls, it probably contained rooms for the castle guard. All its floors were covered with flat, beamed ceilings, and communication was provided by wooden stairs or ladders. Under the tower there were two storeys of deep, vaulted cellars.
   Horseshoe eastern tower with a diameter of 5.5 meters was occupied on the first floor, going into a hexagon, by a chapel with a cross-rib vault. Its lighting was provided by three narrow, ogival windows. Below, the tower had two defensive chambers. In each there were three slotted, rectangular arrowslits that allowed firing along the curtain and straight ahead. The entrance to the lower chamber was placed from the side of the courtyard, and to the upper one by stairs in the perimeter wall. From the side of the courtyard, on the floor the tower was open with an arcade in the light of which was placed a sandstone portal bearing the coat of arms of archbishop Władysław Oporowski from the late 40s of the 15th century.

Current state

   The castle is one of the few fully preserved medieval knightly residences in Poland. Currently, it houses a museum with an exhibition of court interiors. It is made up of works of art and handicraft products that present nobility culture. The collections contain works of art from various periods, from the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century. It is open every day from 10:00 to 16:00 and in spring and summer from 10:00 to 17:00.

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bibliography:
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, L.Kajzer, S.Kołodziejski, J.Salm, Warszawa 2003.
Majewska-Rau A., Zamek w Oporowie, Oporów 2014.