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IMG BORDER=1 style=

RUINS OF SZCZERBA CASTLE, VIEW FROM THE NORTHEAST



istory of the castle remains a mystery to a lar­ge ex­tent, as few sour­ce do­cu­ments ha­ve been pre­ser­ved a­bout it. The foun­der of the cas­tle and the ti­me when it was e­rec­ted is al­so un­known. Ac­cor­ding to le­gends, al­re­ady du­ring the reign of po­lish king Bo­le­slaw Chro­bry the­re was a small wood­en strong­hold he­re, but so far such ori­gin has not been con­fir­med in ar­­cha­eolo­gi­cal re­se­arch and is on­ly a free in­ter­pre­ta­tion with no gre­ater his­to­ri­cal va­lue. It is known, ho­we­ver, that in 1294 the Czech king Wen­ce­slas II do­na­ted the land ne­ar Mię­dzy­le­sie with so­me cas­tle to Cis­ter­cian Or­der from Ka­mie­niec, and that the cas­tle was de­stro­yed in 1318. We al­so know that in 1358 the ow­ner of the lo­cal e­sta­te was Ot­to Schu­ler (d. 1397), son of knight Ot­to Glau­bicz (Głę­bisz, Glu­bos, Glu­bocz, von Glau­bitz), who was first men­tio­ned in 1318, and in 1323 lis­ted as the land­lord of Mię­dzy­le­sie. The Glau­bitz fa­mi­ly pro­ba­bly re­cei­ved the pro­per­ty at the be­gin­ning of 14th cen­tu­ry, short­ly after King of Bo­he­mia Jo­hann von Lu­xem­burg took o­ver the Kłodz­ko a­rea. Li­te­ra­tu­re is do­mi­na­ted by opi­nion that the brick cas­tle was built on the ini­tia­ti­ve of one of re­pre­sen­ta­ti­ves of this knight­ly fa­mi­ly, and its lo­ca­tion was clo­se­ly re­la­ted to the need to con­trol the tra­de rou­te le­ading from Pra­gue to Kłodz­ko. It al­so ser­ved as a cen­ter of feu­dal po­wer o­ver the so-cal­led Snie­lin Sta­te, co­ver­ing part of the By­strzy­ckie Moun­tains, the area a­round Mię­dzy­les­ie and the west­ern slo­pes of the Sniez­nik Mas­sif. Per­haps the ad­mi­ni­stra­tors of Mię­dzy­le­sie reg­ion's e­sta­tes al­so re­si­ded he­re.


IMG BORDER=1 style=

VIEW FROM THE SOUTHEAST



HISTORICAL NAMES OF THE CASTLE

Śnielin ?, Śnielinek ?
Snellinsteyn (1360), Snellenstein (1393)
Snellinstein (1404), Schnellinstein (1408)
Snallstein (1411), Snallsteyn (1415)
Schnellenstein (1416), Snallenstein (1417)
Snalstein (1421), Schnalenstein (1428)
Zamek Wacława (1947), Szczerba (1950)



WOODCUT PRINTING ACCORDING TO T. BLATTERBAUER, F. SCHROLLER SCHLESIEN, 1885


nder the rule of von Glaubitz family (Nick­las d. 1411, Bern­hardt d. 1428), the cas­tle probably re­mai­ned un­til the third de­ca­de of the 15th cen­tu­ry, al­though so­me sour­ces sug­gest that it may ha­ve been le­ased for so­me ti­me by re­pre­sen­ta­ti­ves of En­gel­hardt von Schnel­len­stein fa­mi­ly. The end of the buil­ding was pre­su­ma­bly re­la­ted to the out­break of Hus­si­te re­li­gious war in Bo­he­mia - it was pro­ba­bly de­stro­yed by Czech Hus­si­tes in Octo­ber 1428. In 1433, a no­te ap­pe­ars a­bout Bern­hardt, lord of Szczer­ba (pro­ba­bly Bern­hardt von Glau­bitz, sta­rost of Kłodz­ko), who was sup­po­sed­ly al­re­ady dead by then. Sin­ce then, ro­le of the strong­hold as the se­at of land­lords was li­mi­ted and even if it was part­ly re­built, the­se in­vest­ments we­re ra­ther aim­ed at adap­ting to per­form cer­tain aux­il­ia­ry fun­ctions. Ho­we­ver, the cas­tle was still for­mal­ly a feu­dal ti­tle, re­main­ing the no­mi­nal cen­ter of Snie­lin Sta­te. After 1428 it was for so­me ti­me in the hands of the ma­yors of near­by Gnie­wo­szów (the sur­na­me En­gel­hardt ap­pe­ars he­re a­gain), and from 1491 it be­long­ed to Paul Pre­bir. In 1538 the land was le­ased to von Tschirn­haus fa­mi­ly, and in the 17th cen­tu­ry it be­ca­me the he­re­di­ta­ry pro­per­ty of Counts von Alt­hann of Mię­dzy­le­sie, Wil­ka­nów and Roz­to­ka. At that ti­me the cas­tle was al­re­ady a ruin, part­ial­ly de­stro­yed in the 16th cen­tu­ry for the pur­po­se of buil­ding a church in Gnie­wo­szów. Its de­va­sta­tion was deep­ened by con­stru­ction of a bre­we­ry in the near­by vil­la­ge of Ró­żan­ka, for the pur­pose of which the en­ti­re north­ern part of the cas­tle was de­mo­lish­ed in 1769-70.


IMG BORDER=1 style=

DURING THE SPRING-SUMMER SEASON, THE RUIN IS HIDDEN BEHIND THE PLANTS, A PICTURE TAKEN IN EARLY SPRING


n 1784 Szczerba and surrounding estates were bought by Mi­cha­el Ray­mund, Ba­ron Still­fried und Rat­to­nitz of No­wa Ru­da (d. 1796), and then bought from Ray­mund's heirs by Count An­ton Alex­an­der von Mag­nis of Boż­ków (d. 1817). In 1838, the plot of land with the ru­ins of the fort­ress be­ca­me the pro­per­ty of Mar­ian­na Oran­ska (d. 1883), Du­chess von Preus­sen of Ka­mie­niec, and la­ter, un­til 1945, it be­long­ed to her des­cen­dants, the Ho­hen­zol­lern si­de li­ne. In ye­ars 1986-96 ar­cha­eolo­gi­cal re­se­arch was car­ried out in the cas­tle, as a re­sult of which the ori­gi­nal out­li­ne of the walls was ma­de cle­arer and the sta­ges of its fun­ctio­ning we­re de­fi­ned mo­re pre­ci­se­ly. The­se works a­boun­ded in dis­co­ver­ies of ma­ny va­lu­able ar­ti­facts, in­clu­ding se­ve­ral hund­red frag­ments of me­die­val ar­mour and buck­les. The lar­gest con­cen­tra­tion of the­se items ne­ar the cas­tle ga­te in­di­ca­tes that they may ha­ve be­long­ed to par­ti­ci­pants of the bat­tle of 1428. To­day all this col­lec­tion is sto­red in Ar­cha­eolo­gi­cal Mu­se­um in Wro­claw.


FRAGMENT OF THE NORTHERN WALL WITH A WICKET GATE ON GERMAN POSTCARDS FROM THE 1930S



One of the local legends tells about the daughter of Wild John, who gain­ed ve­ry bad re­pu­ta­tion as the ad­mi­ni­stra­tor of Szczer­ba Cast­le. This knight, ha­ted by sub­jects for his cru­el­ty, was cur­sed, as a re­sult of which nei­ther he nor his clo­sest fa­mi­ly could ha­ve pe­ace after de­ath. Ma­ny ye­ars la­ter, one sum­mer's day, to a poor pe­asant from the vil­la­ge of Ró­żan­ka, a phan­tom of that Jan's daugh­ter ap­pe­ared, ask­ing him to pray in a near­by con­vent for her cur­sed soul. Such a pra­yer could free her from the cur­se. Pro­vi­ded, ho­we­ver, that the pray­ing man is a tho­rough­ly ho­nest man, who ab­hors ly­ing and steal­ing. Full of good in­ten­tions vil­la­ger pray­ed for the la­dy, but co­ming back from the church he ate ber­ries grow­ing in the fo­rest, pro­bab­ly think­ing that they we­re no­bo­dy's pro­per­ty. Ho­we­ver, it turn­ed out that the fo­rest, and thus ber­ries, be­long­ed to the lords of Mię­dzy­le­sie. So the con­di­tion was not ful­fil­led and the be­au­ti­ful daugh­ter of Wild John still wan­ders a­mong the cast­le ru­ins guard­ing her fa­ther's tre­asu­res. Hid­den un­der­ground, she gu­ards bar­rels of va­lu­ables that on­ly a pious and tho­rough­ly ho­nest man can find. And na­ive still be­lie­ves that such so­me­one exists...



IMG  BORDER=1 style= IMG  BORDER=1 style=

SZCZERBA CASTLE TODAY: (ON THE LEFT) FRAGMENT OF SOUTHERN CURTAIN, STAIRS LEADING TO THE GATE IN NORTHERN PART OF THE CASTLE



he castle was built on a rocky gneiss hill, clo­sed from the north by Glow­nia small ri­ver and from the south by Go­ło­do­wnik stream. It was built of sto­ne, on ir­re­gu­lar plan si­mi­lar to an oval, straight cut from the west and with a small trian­gu­lar pro­tru­sion from the north. Its out­li­ne is de­ter­mi­ned by de­fen­si­ve walls me­asu­ring up to one and a half me­ters thick, which o­ri­gi­nal length was o­ver a hund­red me­ters. They clo­sed an in­ter­nal court­yard me­asu­ring 40x10-18 me­ters, fil­led in the north­ern part with qua­dri­la­te­ral re­si­den­tial build­ing. This hou­se, me­asu­ring 9.5 x 19.5 me­ters, con­sist­ed of two sto­reys, whe­re one or two small rooms we­re lo­ca­ted on the ground floor, and a lar­ger (pro­ba­bly re­pre­sen­ta­ti­ve) cham­ber e­quip­ped with a hy­po­caus­tum oven. The out­build­ings, such as sta­bles, crew quart­ers and kit­chen, we­re pro­ba­bly con­cen­tra­ted in the south­ern part of the cas­tle court­yard. An open quest­ion is the exist­en­ce of a free-stand­ing to­wer in the cast­le, men­tio­ned in so­me stu­dies as an in­teg­ral part of the strong­hold, but tra­ces of which ha­ve not been found so far. The en­tran­ce to the court­yard led from the west through a wi­de ga­te lo­ca­ted clo­se to the re­si­dent­ial build­ing, in the north­ern wall the­re was al­so nar­row pe­dest­rian ga­te. From the south, south­west and west, the de­fen­se of the cast­le was sup­port­ed by deep, for­ged in the rock dry mo­at.




MEDIEVAL CASTLE PLAN ACCORDING TO C. FRANCKE: 1. COURTYARD, 2. RESIDENTIAL BUILDING, 3. OVEN, 4. MAIN GATE, 5. WICKET GATE


IMG BORDER=1 style=

BIRD'S-EYE VIEW TO THE WESTERN PART OF COURTYARD, ON THE RIGHT SIDE YOU CAN SEE RUINS OF RESIDENTIAL BUILDING



uring archaeological research carried out at the end of the last cen­tu­ry, frag­ments of walls we­re dis­co­ve­red, thanks to which the cast­le is to­day a clear­ly vi­si­ble ru­in with a most­ly pre­ser­ved sto­ne cir­cuit, who­se cur­rent height re­aches 9 me­ters. In the court­yard, one can see de­bris of the cel­lars and lo­wer floors of re­si­den­tial buil­ding with re­lics of vaults. A walk­ing path a­round the cast­le was led a­long a dry moat. The ad­mis­sion to the ru­ins is free.


IMG BORDER=1 style=

IMG BORDER=1 style=

VIEW FROM THE COURTYARD ON THE WALL IN EASTERN PART OF THE CASTLE, BELOW YOU CAN SEE THE WICKET GATE



icturesque, although hidden in a forest thicket, ruin is lo­ca­ted in the south­east­ern part of Bys­trzy­ckie Mount­ains, on the left si­de of the ro­ad le­ading from Mię­dzy­le­sie to Gnie­wo­szów and a few hund­red me­ters north from Ró­żan­ka vil­la­ge. You can on­ly get he­re di­rect­ly by pri­va­te trans­port - even a small park­ing lot is avail­ab­le for dri­vers. Pe­ople tra­vel­ling by train should get off at Do­masz­ków sta­tion and walk 4 ki­lo­me­ters a­long the pic­tu­res­que but steep ro­ad, which is the be­gin­ning of so-cal­led Su­dec­ka High­way, stretch­ing through Bys­trzy­ckie Mount­ains up to Zie­le­niec. I espe­cial­ly re­com­mend this rou­te to cyc­lists - emo­tions du­ring climb­ing gua­ran­teed ;-) (map of cast­les)




1. L. Kajzer, J. Salm, S. Kołodziejski: Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Arkady 2001
2. J. Lamparska: Zamkowe tajemnice, Asia-Press 2009
3. M. Lech: Średniowieczna zbroja z zamku Szczerba, Acta Militaria Mediaevalia IV 2008
4. R. Łuczyński: Chronologia dziejów Dolnego Śląska, Atut 2006
5. A. Wagner: Murowane budowle obronne w Polsce X-XVIIw., Bellona 2019


IMG BORDER=1 style=

IMG BORDER=1 style=

TOURIST INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY OF THE CASTLE,
DEAR ADMINISTRATORS: IT WOULD BE ADVISABLE TO EMPTY THE GARBAGE CANS FROM TIME TO TIME


Castles nearby:
Międzylesie - castle and palace complex from 14th-18th century, 10 km
Bystrzyca Kłodzka - residential tower from 14th century, 16 km
Gorzanów - Renaissance castle from 16th-17th century, 24 km
Żelazno - residential tower from 15th-16th century, 24 km
Stara Łomnica - residential tower from 14th-16th century, 26 km





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text: 2007, 2020
photographs: 2007, 2019
© by Jacek Bednarek