Tumsk Hill in Płock due to its defensive shape and convenient location at the intersection of trade routes, has been inhabited since the 10th century. In the times of Władysław Herman and Bolesław the Wrymouth, was surrounded by wooden – earthen ramparts and had a large outer bailey.
At the end of the 13th century, the castle of the Dukes of Mazovia began to be shaped. Probably around 1290 prince Bolesław II, after taking over the Płock land, built a defensive tower-donjon in the hillfort area. Fortifications had to be so strong that the Czech military expedition from 1299 did not capture the stronghold. The castle walls were bricked up either at the end of the 13th century or in the first half of the 14th century. Because of the death of another prince, Bolesław III in 1351, the duchy was divided. At that time, Płock passed on the basis of previous arrangements in the hands of the king of Poland, Casimir the Great. The ruler, appreciating the strategic location of the castle and the threat from Lithuania, financed in the second half of the fourteenth century the construction of urban defensive walls and the second ring of brick fortifications of the castle. After the death of Casimir the Great in 1370 and the end of the Piast dynasty, the Duchy of Płock returned to the dukes of Mazovia. They resided in the castle until 1495, when in the end Mazovia was incorporated into Poland.
In the sixteenth century, the castle was rebuilt and divided into a bishop’s and royal part. These works were caused, among others, by the collapse of a part of the castle due to the fall of the Vistula escarpment in 1532. At that time, the palatium building and the southern walls were destroyed. In 1538, the royal part passed into the hands of the Benedictines, who remained there until 1781. During the invasion of Sweden, the object deteriorated, and in the 17th-18th centuries a baroque abbey was built with the church on the site of the southern wing of the castle. After the partitions of Poland, part of the walls was demolished by the Prussians. Subsequent transformations took place at the beginning of the 20th century.
The appearance of the castle from the 14th-15th centuries is not entirely clear. It is known from documents that it consisted of two parts: the episcopal part called the castellum and the royal castrum, but their location is presented in various ways. It is certain that the entire hill was surrounded by a double ring of walls on the plan of an irregular semicircle, protected from the south-west by a high Vistula escarpment. The first of the circuits was erected by Bolesław II at the end of the thirteenth or early fourteenth century, and the second by king Casimir the Great in the second half of the fourteenth century, although there is no certainty which ring of fortifications attributed to the proper ruler (internal wall may belong to the foundation of Kazimierz or Bolesław, similarly the outer wall) .
Two gate towers (in the outer and inner circumference of the walls) facing the city, were located on the west side, probably the next one was on the north side. The gate in the western section was preceded by a bridge over the moat.
The main elements of the castle in the form of two towers and the building were located on the north-west side. The western Noble Tower, also called the Great Tower, was erected on the plan of a quadrilateral passing into the octagonal part. It was originally a gatehouse. Its ogival passage, 3.25 meters wide and 5 meters high, was framed with stones. It was walled in the first half of the fifteenth century (or at the beginning of the sixteenth century) and a new gatehouse was erected on the south side. The former passage, on the other hand, began to serve as a prison to which the convicts were let down from the upper opening. The Clock Tower was erected in the northern corner on the relics of the romanesque tower and for this reason its outer wall was on the line of the defensive wall, and the interior was drawn deep into the courtyard. When, at the end of the fifteenth century, the collapsing towers of the cathedral could not keep the bells, they were moved to the Clock Tower, which was raised by the additional storey. It was then crowned with round, corner towers.
The perimeter wall near the Noble and Clock Tower was 2.38 meters thick. It had a defensive porch covered with a breastwork and topped with a battlement of merlons 3.6 meters wide, set with intervals of 80 cm.
A gothic residential house adjoined the bend section of the wall between the two towers. It was two-storey and covered with a mono-pitched roof. Yet before the end of the fifteenth century, it was expanded. The remaining houses stood along the eastern and southern curtains. The princely palas was located in the area of the southern zwinger, between the wall of Bolesław II and the wall of Casimir the Great. It was mentioned in 1437, but most probably it was made much earlier. In the 15th centuries in the castle area there was also a cathedral and a church of St. Adalbert (between the Noblemen’s Tower and the entrance to the cathedral).
Currently, after a thorough rebuilding and reconstruction during which older relics were being shown, the castle is one of the most important tourist attractions of Mazovia. From the old medieval castle remained the Clock Tower, a former tower elevated and rebuilt around 1492 to the cathedral belfry, and the Noble Tower, which was reduced to the middle in the 18th century. A fragment of the wall to which the wing of the Benedictine monastery adjoined, is also preserved. It is Museum of Masovia located in it.
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, L.Kajzer, S.Kołodziejski, J.Salm, Warszawa 2003.
Płock wczesnośredniowieczny, red. A. Gołembnik, Warszawa 2011.
Żabicki J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Mazowsza i Podlasia, Warszawa 2010.