The first castle in Pińczów was erected at the end of the 13th or the beginning of the 14th century, and it was mentioned in a document from 1400. Between 1424 and 1428, Pińczów (Piandziczów) and the castle were bought by the Bishop of Kraków, Zbigniew Oleśnicki, for his brother Jan Głowacz, as reported by the chronicler Jan Długosz, to raise the importance and honor of the family. The Oleśnicki family, on the site of an old building from the end of the 13th century, erected a new castle, the construction of which took 30 years and cost a considerable sum of 20,000 fines. Probably, the intensification of work came after 1443, when Jan Głowacz still resided and kept his property in the castle in Iłża, leased from the Kraków chapter, and before 1450, when the bishop, already as a cardinal, began to visit Pińczów more often.
The cardinal’s investments in Pińczów were personally supervised by the chronicler Jan Długosz, who was also the executor of his will. In 1450, he notified Oleśnicki that he would not allow the workers working on the still unfinished castle to be dispersed, and then recommended the master builder, Marcin Proszka, known for numerous late Gothic investments in Kraków. Master Mikołaj Czipser, the builder of the vaults in St. Mary’s Church in Kraków, who also worked with his father at the Corpus Christi church, was also at play. However, Długosz advised the cardinal against this builder because of his instability.
After the death of Mikołaj Oleśnicki, in 1586 the castle and the town were purchased by the bishop of Kraków, Piotr Myszkowski, who restored it and thoroughly rebuilt it. In 1727, the castle passed into the hands of the Wielopolski family. At that time, the once magnificent residence fell into decline, and in 1799, on the order of Franciszek Wielopolski, the demolition of the castle walls began, which was started very willingly and was carried out very meticulously, due to the excellent quality of the building materials used to erect the castle.
The first castle from the end of the 13th century was built on a hill on the left (northern) bank of the Nida River, on the site of an even older, early medieval stronghold. It received an irregular shape in its plan, because the course of its walls was adapted to the form of the hill on which it was situated. Its main element was a massive cylindrical tower on the eastern side, put in the perimeter of the defensive walls. It probably secured the nearby entrance gate, but it is not known whether it had residential functions or it was a bergfried. The headland of the hill in front of the defensive wall was cut off by a transverse ditch.
The medieval castle of bishop Oleśnicki was built after the older stronghold was demolished. It was erected from large, carefully worked blocks, and partly of bricks in the upper parts. Most of the walls were framed through a square plinth, growing out of it through a steep sloping edge.
The castle was built on a square plan, slightly narrowing to the south-west. The main building was a massive, three-storey keep on a rectangular plan with dimensions of 13×23 meters. It occupied the south-west end of the hill headland. The building was enriched by two corner projections – turrets and a larger bay window located on the axis of the facade, the base of which was reinforced with four buttresses. The upper storey of the building was surrounded by a wooden porch, possibly a hoarding. On the opposite side of the courtyard, two four-sided towers were erected in the corners, both protruding in front of the defensive perimeter.
In the vicinity of the larger, north-eastern tower, there was an entrance gate with a chapel on the first floor. This gatehouse was placed evenly in the line of the wall, protruding more or less with half of its mass towards the slopes of the hill, and therefore had to be reinforced with two corner buttresses. The road to the castle hill led from the north, but did not reach directly to its fortifications, as in the old castle, but passed them from the east on a wooden bridge supported on a large, four-sided stone pillar. Its characteristic feature was the creation of an access road bending at right angle, with the north-east tower towering over the entire access to the castle.
The castle does not exist. Only small relics of masonry and foundation parts are visible. Admission to the castle hill is free.
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, red. L.Kajzer, Warszawa 2003.
Miłobędzki A., Zamek Oleśnickich w Pińczowie [w:] Siedziby biskupów krakowskich na terenie dawnego województwa sandomierskiego, red. L.Kajzer, Kielce 1997.
Wróblewski S., Zamki i dwory obronne województwa sandomierskiego w średniowieczu, Nowy Sącz 2006.