Poznań – Royal Castle


   The ducal castle in Poznań was probably erected by prince and king Przemysł II around 1280, along with the city walls, although sometimes its beginnings in the form of wood and earth fortifications moved even to the reign of Przemysł I before 1250. In 1295 Przemysł II was crowned as king of Poland, unfortunately a year later he was murdered, and the extension of the castle unfinished. The interruption of construction in the first stage is witnessed by the change of the monk bond wall to flemish bond and different foundations. Works could be continued by the wielding Wielkopolska, Głogów-Żagań Piasts, and next, before 1337 king Casimir III the Great, who made at least 26 visits in Poznań. The castle residential building, originally probably timber, was added in the days of Casimir the Great or king Władysław Jagiełło.
Castle was the residence of successive kings: Wacław II, Władysław Łokietek and Casimir III the Great, who in 1341 took a wedding in Poznań with Hessian Adelaide. Two years later, in the castle was organized a wedding of the daughter of Casimir, Elisabeth with the Pomeranian prince Bogusław V. The military independence of the castle from the city was reflected in the events of 1383, during the internal war of the interregnum, when Grzymalit family, under the command of the general governor of Greater Poland, Domarat, defended in it, despite the fall of the city. After entering Poznań, the troops of Sędziwoj Świdwa, the castellan of Nakło, got through the window to the large wooden room under the castle, leaving an armed crew there. The defenders, however, were able to receive food through the gates leading into the field (“per portas castrenses”), so the fight after a 1.5 months long siege ended with the truce.
In the 15th century, the castle served as a royal residence during subsequent weddings, among others, Hedwigs, daughter of Kazimierz Jagiellończyk. This testifies to its residential and representative qualities. In 1493, King Jan Olbracht spent almost a year in Poznań, who accepted here the tribute of the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order Hans von Tieffen. In the periods when the monarchs were not in the city, the castle was the seat of the general starosts of Greater Poland, later the burgrave court and the municipal office. In the basement there was a prison for the low-born, and in the tower for the nobility (recorded in 1482). The starosts took care of the repairs of the castle. In 1434, Andrzej Ciołek from Żelechów undertook to repair the tower, and two years later king Władysław handed over the brickyard to the city, intended, inter alia, for the needs of the castle. In 1494, a part of the Greater Poland alcohol tax was allocated to its repairs. Despite this, in 1503 the nobility of Poznań complained about the poor condition of the castle and more renovations were needed, carried out in 1515 and 1533.
In 1536 the building burnt down, but almost immediately the staroste Andrzej Górka began renovation works, giving the castle a renaissance character. Renovation was continued by another starost Janusz Kościelecki before 1564, and finally it was completed before 1628. Again, it was seriously damaged in 1657 and in 1704 when it was occupied by the Swedes, it defended the access of the Muscovites and Saxons. The destruction caused him to lose his meaning. In 1783, Kazimierz Raczyński transformed the castle into a court building containing an appellate court and then an archive. After the destructions of World War II, the building of Raczyński was rebuilt.


   The castle was erected in the line of Poznań’s city walls in its western part. It took a hill called today Przemysł Hill, located on the edge of the terrace of the Warta valley, towering over 15 meters above the level of the market and even more above the valley Bogdanka located north and south of it. The castle was closed with a perimeter wall on all sides, also from the city side. From the west and north, it was closed by straight lines that were bend at right angles, and from the side of the city it constituted a curvilinear contour adapted to the form of the hill. Its height in the 16th century was 6-7 meters, maybe originally it was slightly higher.
From the south, a great tower was situated, appearing in front of the castle wall in such a way that the city wall coming out of its corner was diagonally positioned to its sides. It was built from brick, bound in the monk bond, on a plan similar to a square measuring 11 x 11.5 meters and a wall thickness of 3 – 3.5 meters. In the lowest level, it had a chamber with an area of just over 29 m². The tower probably served as a bergfried (final defense tower, not intended for permanent residence) and flanked the castle gate leading to a semicircular courtyard, although, taking into account its large dimensions, initially, before erecting additional residential buildings, it may have served residential purposes.
The only entrance to the castle led from the south of the city, defended by the tower.
It was the only possible place, because the hill was protected from all other sides by a strong decline. Directly next to it was a four-sided flanking tower with dimensions (along with the thickness of the perimeter wall) 4.6 x 4.9 meters, with an internal chamber measuring 1.3 x 1.95 meters, perhaps supported by two perpendicular buttresses from the south. At the beginning of the 14th century, the Poznań castle resembled the premises of the Czech Přemyslids (Krupka, Týřov, Zvíkov), on which it could have been modeled, with the main tower included in the perimeter of the defensive walls in close proximity to the gate.
   At the turn of the fourteenth and fifteenth century, the northern curtain was extended of a length of just over 9 meters, which gave it a total of about 60 meters in length. In times of Kazimierz the Great or what is more likely Władysław Jagiełło, the main castle house was built, with the longest straight section of the walls. Its dimensions were probably slightly smaller than the building that stood here after the rebuilding from the sixteenth century (about 17.5 x 63 meters), was covered with one longitudinal gable roof and perhaps had a projection advenced towards the courtyard. The interior probably had a one-aisle system. Since the sixteenth century, it was divided into seven rooms arranged in a row, of which three extreme from the north were without a basement, and the third from the south was exceptionally divided into two chambers. During the reconstruction after the fire from 1536, the roof shape was also changed, the building was covered with a set of four roofs set transversely to the longitudinal axis.
   In the light of recent researches, however, the presence of a four-sided keep from the 13th century in the northern part of the castle, placed in the outer corner between the city and castle walls, is questioned. This building, measuring 12.7 x 14.6 meters, was probably built at the beginning of the 16th century and housed a well with a diameter of 1.8 meters in diameter in a small annex. It probably had economic functions, it is known that in the second half of the 16th century a new kitchen was located in it. There were certainly other wooden and half-timbered economic buildings at the castle, including an older kitchen attached to the east wall from the courtyard side.
Between the castle and the town, remained a free square, which facilitated the defense of the object in all directions. Leaving the free space next to the castle was additionally justified by the sloping terrain that hindered development. This outer bailey was separated from the castle by a not very wide ditch, over which a wooden bridge was placed. In the 16th century it was about 30 meters long.

Current state

   From the former castle remaines, the foundations from the 13th and 14th centuries, about 2 meters thick, the partition walls of the lowest storey, the western wall to about 10 meters high from the same period, and the eastern wall dating from the 14th century, 7 to 8 meters high, incorporated into the Raczyński building. These elements, from 2016 are covered with a new, ugly object, whose appearance does not have much in common with the historical castle, and in addition is made of contemporary and poor quality elements. What is worse, the preserved historical elements, namely the ground floor and the basement, are closed to tourists. There is an observation point on the new tower at the moment.

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Leksykon zamków w Polsce, red. L.Kajzer, Warszawa 2003.
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Olszacki T., Różański A., Badania terenowe zamków z obszaru Wielkopolski i Polski Centralnej w XXI wieku [w:] Gemma Gemmarum, red. Różański A., Poznań 2017.
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