Ogrodzieniec and the majestic castle there (or to be more precise – the castle’s ruins) is my favorite place in Jura. Already as a kid I was extremely impressed by its beauty, history and its incredible charm and … ghosts’ stories connected with it (more about ghost stories will be published in the legends site :-)).
The ruins are situated in the central part of Eagles` Nests’ Trail.
The history of Ogrodzieniec (castle and village) begins around XI century, although some claim that it might be even older. At first, it was a simple settlement of hunters, pitch burners, beekeepers and farmers between hills, rocks and never-ending forests which were surrounding the village from east, south and north side. From the west side it was protected by marsh. Only the locals were able find the safe path through it… It was still in the XX century that some skeletons of ancient warriors were found around this area during digging for peat…
The first wooden fortress was built probably in the second part of XII century but burned down in the 1241 during Mongolian invasion, but shortly after it was rebuilt (partially probably in stone) by its owners and villagers who survived the attack hiding in the woods and caves around. Caves were actually providing shelter to the population of Jura as long as to the XX century, Jews and members of local resistance groups were using them during the harsh times of second World War…
The first stone caste was built during the reign of king Casimir the Great around 1350-1370. It was built as a typical medieval fortress to protect (as other castles and watchtowers) south-west border of Poland.
Around the 1396 other king of Poland gave the castle and the land around to the Wlodek family. Within next few centuries the castle’s owners were changing, I would like to mention the most important of them.
Around 1523 Ogrodzieniec was bought by Boners; in the XVI century Boners were one of the richest families in Poland. They rebuilt the gothic castle in renaissance style making it one of the most beautiful, representative and modern residence in Poland. I believe, it is enough to mention that it was only comparable with the king’s castle in Cracow…
At the end of XVI century the next owners of Ogrodzieniec – Firlej’s family – added also some baroque elements to the castle’s internal style.
The XVII century was unfortunately rather dark part in the castle’s history. It was destroyed and plundered during Polish – Swedish wars, especially during Deluge time 1655-1660. In the 1669 Ogrodzieniec was bought by Stanislaw Warszycki, one of the most famous aldermen and warriors of XVII century. Warszycki is known as I guess the most dedicated Polish patriot of these difficult times, but it seems he was also a really hot-blooded person – so at least the local legends suggest… He rebuilt the castle again, helped the whole area to recover after the years of wars and flourish again. He is said to come back to his residence during some of moonlit nights – but what is interesting – not as a “standard” ghost but as a really huge black dog pulling heavy metal chain…
All next owners of the castle were unfortunately rich enough to properly take care of the castle, during next 150 years it was slowly falling apart and in the 1810 it was abandoned for good…
In 1885 nineteenth years old polish student Aleksander Janowski was visiting the ruins that took completely his heart and inspired him to ground in the 1906 PTTK – Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society. The draw of Ogrodzieniec’s ruins was chosen to be Society’s symbol and the hill over which castle is situated is called Janowski’s Hill.
And the castle today…
The Ogrodzieniec castle was used in many Polish and international movie productions; for example in Iron Maiden’s video to the song “Hallowed by Thy Name” (1984) or to depict the ruins of the old Spellbinder’s castle in Australian television series “Spellbinder”.
In 2018 the castle was used during filming of “The Witcher” Netflix successful series.
Ogrodzieniec castle is actually situated in Podzamcze, little village ca. 2 km from Ogrodzieniec itself. But traditionally it is called Ogrodzieniec so I decide to use this name also, its simply more common.
Apart of the monumental ruins there are also other interesting places in Ogrodzieniec;
– Gora Birow (Birow Hill) – around 15 minutes from the castle; reconstruction of early medieval settlement
– XVIII century baroque church in Ogrodzieniec
– lime rocks around the castle – little paradise for all fans of climbing. The rocks
– Miniature Park – were you can see the Eagles ‘Nest Trial in 1:25 scale
– AdrenaLina Park – rope park with the view to the castle
– Railway Park – must be for families and railways’ funs!