Sochaczew – Ducal Castle


   In the 12th-13th century, a settlement functioned on the site of a later castle. In the thirteenth century, the Mazovian princes built here a wooden and earth hillfort, which was the seat of the Sochaczew castellan mentioned in 1221. The original wooden castle was in 1355 handed over by king Casimir the Great to Siemowit III the Older. It is to this ruler of Masovia that the construction of a brick castle in the second half of the fifteenth century is credited. During the reign of the dukes of Mazovia, the castle was of considerable importance, both military and political, as evidenced by Siemowit III’s congress of noblemen and princes in 1377 and the passing of the Sochaczew Statutes, the first written set of laws for the whole of Mazovia.
In 1467, Sochaczew together with the whole of Mazovia was incorporated into the Crown of Poland, and the castle became the seat of the starosty. Therefore, at the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth, it expanded. Around 1630, due to the collapse of the escarpment, the starost Stanisław Radziejowski rebuilt the castle, this time for an early baroque residence. It was destroyed during the Swedish invasion, but partly rebuilt, survived until 1790, when it was demolished by starost Kazimierz Walicki, to build a new seat in the same place. The object was destroyed in 1794, during the Kościuszko Insurrection. In the nineteenth century, it was subject to demolition.


   The castle was erected on a hill located in close proximity to the eastern bank of the Bzura River. The late medieval castle was regular, on a trapezoidal plan with perimeter walls, a gate tower from the north and a wooden house near the western curtain. The gate and walls were made of brick, the remaining buildings were wooden. The form and plan of the northern tower are unknown, initially it probably did not extend above the crown of the defensive wall. Its early height is estimated at 5-8 meters. In later times, it was increased by another wooden storey.
New wooden houses were added to the southern and northern curtains in the 16th century. The southern house is also called royal, the northern house is called Szydłowiecki’s house. The entrance to the courtyard, which originally led probably through the northern curtain, was moved to the eastern tower at the beginning of the sixteenth century and was preceded by a long wooden bridge. The newly erected eastern tower was rectangular, with sides 4,5×7,5 meters. Further objects were built on the outer bailey, and ramparts were built from three sides of the castle to protect the object against firearms.

Current state

   The castle has survived to modern times in the form of a heavily reduced ruin. Contrary to the views of the older literature, the brick relics on the castle hill visible to this day are not relics of the 18th-19th century palace, but the remains of a medieval castle, rebuilt in the 17th century. In 2013, after 5 seasons of interdisciplinary studies, the first stage of conservation works was carried out, which saved it from destruction.
I thank Łukasz Popowski for help in describing the castle.

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Leksykon zamków w Polsce, red. L.Kajzer, Warszawa 2003.