resumably, as early as the 9th century, there was some kind of Slavic border stronghold on the site of today's Castle Mountain, probably functioning as a customs chamber and seat of local administration. In the second half of the 13th century, the Silesian duke Bolesław the Tall (Wysoki d. 1201) erected a stone cylindrical keep on its grounds, which became the beginning of a medieval fortress. However, the brick Bandzin Castle was not erected until the first half of the 14th century by Polish King
Casimir the Great (Kazimierz Wielki, d. 1370), with the aim of protecting Poland's southwestern border from invasions from Silesia and the Czech state (the border between Poland and Bohemia at the time ran along Czarna Przemsza River, thus at the very foot of Castle Mountain). Certainly the castle existed as early as 1364, when the Bohemian King
Charles IV of Luxembourg (Karel IV Luksemburški) visited it.
NICE CASTLE ILLUMINATION
s early as 1349, the oldest known burgrave of Będzin named Yemco vel Wiernek was mentioned in documents. The castle served at first as the seat of a captain, and since the 16th century - as the seat of a starosta, who administered a territory assigned to him and, if necessary, organized the defense of the state’s borders. The town founded at its foot (in 1358) had a distinctly military character and was therefore repeatedly destroyed. Its defensive capacity was determined not only by kilometer-long walls, but also by the fact that a part of the royal army permanently stationed there. However, the strict castle garrison consisted of only a dozen or so soldiers - for example, in 1456 there were only 2 riflemen and 2 foot soldiers in the castle, and this modest group was completed by townspeople: 4 foot soldiers and 2 cannoneers.
VIEW FROM THE TOP OF CASTLE HILL
n 1415, the burgrave of Będzin became Mikołaj Siestrzenieccoat-of-arms Kornicz (d. 1445), a traitor who was accused, among other things, of stealing part of the royal treasury, betraying state secrets, forging documents and numerous attacks and raids on the property of his political opponents. During his tenure, the castle was often used as a place to quarter Hussite troops, especially during the period when the Hussites overran Silesia. Due to the huge number of charges against him, Siestrzeniec lost his position as burgrave in 1434. Shortly thereafter, a convention of Małopolska and Silesian lords was held in Będzin, resulting in the signing of an agreement between the bishop of Cracow
Zbigniew Oleśnicki and the dukes: Bernard of Niemodlin, Nicholas of Racibórz, Wenceslas of Cieszyn and Wenceslas of Zator, which ended the wranglings between these rulers.
AT THE FOOT OF CASTLE HILL
n 1448 Piotr Szafraniec of Pieskowa Skała (d. 1456), chamberlain of Cracow, a rascal, what few there are, an accomplice of thieves, a clever swindler and deceiver, appears in documents as burgrave of Będzin. However, Szafraniec did not live in the castle, and appointed Szczepan Pogórski of Pogórzyce as its starost, who in 1450 fought fierce battles here against Silesian bands invading the area. Eight years later, the Będzin starosty was jointly granted to: Jan Synowiec de Zandowicze, Mikołaj of Brzezie, Bolesław Pieniążek of Witowice and Stanisław Pogórski. Then the office was held by Bieniasz Pogórski, followed, from 1506, by court marshal Stanisław Jarocki of Jaroszyn, whom King
Alexander Jagiellończyk allowed to buy both the castle and the entire royal town of Będzin.
ON THE WAY TO THE CASTLE COURTYARD
round 1551 Marcin Zborowski of
Jastrzębiec coat of arms (d. 1565), who is remembered in Polish history primarily as the murderer of
Dmitri Sanguszko, husband of the legendary Halszka Ostrogska, became the starost of Będzin. After him, in 1570, the office passed to a Cracovian banker of Italian origin and the first head of the Polish royal post office,
Prospero Provana (d. 1584). The castle at this time is ruined and abandoned, as noted in the 1564 vetting, but this assessment seems to be exaggerated, since less than a decade later Będzin, which was the first town on his way from the Polish border, welcomed, and perhaps also hosted,
Henri de Valois, just elected Polish king.
THE OLDEST KNOWN IMAGE OF BĘDZIN CASTLE, MATTHIAS GERUNG "PFALZGRAF OTTHEINRICHS REISEBILDER" 1536
Maximilian Habsburg (d. 1618) entered Poland, taking advantage of the interregnum following the death of Stefan Batory to seize Cracow and take power over all Poland. His plans were thwarted by Polish Hetman
Jan Zamoyski (d. 1605), who forced the archduke to make a retreat, during which the Austrian army plundered many villages and operated for a long time along the Polish-Silesian border, including near Będzin. Two years later, in September 1589, Maximilian went into captivity - he was then detained for several days at Będzin Castle, from where, accompanied by German lords and Polish hussars, he was escorted to the border post and expelled from Poland.
ROMANTIC RECONSTRUCTION OF MEDIEVAL CASTLE IN BĘDZIN BY JAN KANTY GUMOWSKI, 1930S
he dynamic growth of the town was stopped in the 17th century by fires and the Swedish invasion. Although the castle was partially rebuilt, it never returned to its state of splendor. In the first half of the 18th century, starost Kazimierz Mieroszewski of
Ślepowron coat of arms (d. 1749) built a baroque-classicist
palace in Będzin-Gzichów, near the old stronghold. Thus, the castle was soon abandoned and fell into ruin.
n 1775 the Będzin estate was leased to Stanisław Mieroszewski (d. 1824). He exploited it mercilessly, abusing peasants, townsmen and Jews, while caring neither for the town nor the castle. The abandoned building deteriorated more and more, and when in 1825 a fragment of the wall collapsed and crushed to death an accidental passer-by, the local administration ordered the ruins to be demolished. Fortunately, this was done very tardily, and before the instruction was carried out, the central authorities imposed a registration of all monuments in the area of the Kingdom of Poland and ordered their urgent protection.
VIEW OF THE CASTLE FROM THE SOUTH, POSTCARD FROM AROUND 1915
n 1833 Count
Edward Raczyński (d. 1845), a great patriot and lover of national memorabilia, became enamored of the picturesque ruin during his stay in the town. He therefore decided to rebuild it and then use it to house a mining school. The project was commissioned by Raczyński to the Italian architect Francisco Maria Lanci, who prepared three different variants of the reconstruction: according to the first concept, the castle was to resemble a French medieval castellum with numerous fancy turrets and steep roofs, and according to the other two, it was to refer in form to Italian Renaissance architecture. Due to the large number of foreign impurities, none of the above proposals gained acceptance, so Lanci made a fourth, more economical and austere project - and according to it, the reconstruction of the castle began. Among other things, it included forging large windows, and lowering the cylindrical tower, the top of which received decorative machicolations.
VISIONS OF CASTLE RECONSTRUCTION ACCORDING TO MARIA LANCI: FRENCH (ABOVE) AND ITALIAN, 1843-44
oon, however, the concept of opening a school in the former fortress collapsed. The reasons for Edward Raczyński's abandonment of this goal are unknown to us; in any case, the mining school in Będzin was not established, and the castle was not completely rebuilt. Some of its chambers were used as an evangelical chapel for Saxon miners, and after 1843 a hospital was arranged in its interiors. This idea turned out to be unsuccessful, and after the liquidation of the hospital institution around 1850, the stronghold once again fell into ruin.
WOODCUT ACCORDING TO A DRAWING BY DYMITROVICH, "TYGODNIK ILUSTROWANY" 1867
LITHOGRAPHY BY NAPOLEON ORDA, 1880
n 1916, Stefan Warchoł - an engineer, Jan Gęborski - the owner of the Castle Mountain, Benedykt Misiórski - a pharmacist, and Roman Wyszatycki - a local official, formed the Society for the Care of Castle Mountain, with the goal of securing the ruins from damage and destruction, and, as far as resources allowed, the architectural restoration of the castle. At their commission, the famous architect, Professor
Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz (d. 1948) prepared a concept for the Gothic restoration of Będzin Castle. However, the society's ambitious plans soon faded into oblivion due to the project's overly strong references to German architecture, problems with the purchase of land in the immediate vicinity of the ruins (owned by more than 100 small proprietors), and above all due to insufficient funds and the outbreak of World War II.
PROJECT TO REBUILD THE CASTLE IN BĘDZIN, ADOLF SZYSZKO-BOHUSZ 1930
he idea of castle reconstruction (under the slogan: Let's keep a deteriorating historical monument for future generations as a cultural center) returned after 1945 and, overcoming many difficulties, succeeded in rebuilding the castle in 1952-56 according to a project by Cracow architect
Zygmunt Gawlik (d. 1961). This reconstruction was accompanied by excavation work, resulting in the discovery of an early medieval settlement and foundations of the lower castle buildings, as well as many artifacts, including fragments of armor, arrowheads, cannonballs, everyday tools and coins. In 1956, the edifice became the headquarters of the newly established Zagłębie Museum.
he oldest masonry part of the castle is the cylindrical tower built of limestone on a near-square foundation. This tower, located in an exposed position on the side of the greatest danger, had a dark brick superstructure made in the 14th century, characteristic of the reign of the Polish King Casimir the Great
Chęciny). Its interior was divided into at least five levels, with the lower, narrowest one housing the prison dungeon, where the condemned were let down by ropes. A sharp-arched entrance was placed on the third floor, which could be accessed by a ladder or a wooden platform. The diameter of this building is 10.7 meters, and the thickness of the wall in the ground floor reaches 4 meters. However, the original height of the tower and its crowning remains unknown (we don't know whether it had a roof or an open platform with a crenellation in the Middle Ages).
VIEWING PLATFORM ON THE TOWER
n the mid-14th century, King Casimir the Great erected a quadrilateral five-story residential tower, built on a near-square plan with external dimensions of 8.5 x 9 meters. Its eastern and southern walls were incorporated into the perimeter wall, so they functioned as a part of the line of fortifications. The highest storey of the tower had a crowning shaped as a crenellation, hoarding or machicolation, the remains of which were removed during the 19th-century reconstruction.
RESIDENTIAL TOWER AND VIEW FROM IT TOWARDS THE EAST (WE CAN SEE ST. TRINITY CHURCH)
he castle's buildings also included a gate tower (not preserved) and a 19th-century eastern dwelling house (also not preserved) - there may have been a chapel on the site earlier. The upper castle was surrounded by a double line of defensive walls, equipped with a wooden galleries, blanks, and possibly hoardings. A third line of walls surrounded the lower castle, which was coupled to the town walls and occupied the southern and western parts of the hill. Its fortifications, in addition to the aforementioned walls, included two or three towers.
PLAN OF THE CASTLE ACCORDING TO W. BŁASZCZYK: 1. KEEP, 2. RESIDENTIAL TOWER, 3. GATEWAY, 4. WALLS, 5. LOWER CASTLE
CASTLE RECONSTRUCTION BY J. SALM
DECORATIVE ARCADES ARE THE RESULT OF XIXTH-CENTURY REMODELING OF THE TOWN WALL
oday the castle houses the Zagłębie Museum, which exhibits a collection of old weapons and armaments, exhibitions on the history of the town and its inhabitants, as well as a small section devoted to Będzin's Jews (before World War II, there was a Jewish population near the castle).
IN THE RESIDENTIAL TOWER
articularly noteworthy here is the collection of historical weapons and armament fittings. It mainly includes Western European shooting weapons of various types from the 15th-19th centuries: arquebuses, muskets, fintlocks, hunting and sporting rifles. Of the white weapons, it is worth noting the 16th century double-edged swords, rapiers and cleavers, and above all the oldest and most valuable object of the militaria department - an early medieval sword found in 1949 in an old cemetery in Grodziec. The armory includes helmets, shields and chainmail, including breastplates, visors and fragments of Italian copic armor from the late 16th century as well as a complete pikeman's armor from 1600.
EXHIBITION OF OLD WEAPONS AND ARMAMENTS
o the northeast of the castle extends a park with a reconstruction of an early Piast rampart and three dug-outs. There is also an amphitheater, as well as numerous resting places, formed in the shape of "magic circles”. Under the hill are preserved tunnels excavated during World War II, forming a labyrinth consisting of winding corridors, chambers and natural crevices up to 8 meters high. They are a reminder of an unfinished air raid shelter for Wehrmacht troops stationed in Będzin, employees of the Nazi administration and German civilians.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK NEAR THE CASTLE
Admission to the courtyard - free, to the museum, tower and underground – paid
To visit to the museum and park, reserve about 1.5 hours. Museum tours are done individually (you can hire a guide).
Shooting without a tripod and flash.
No dogs allowed
The castle is not equipped to serve people with mobility impairments.
FROM THE TOWER THERE IS A VIEW OF RESIDENTIAL AREAS AND BIG FACTORIES
HOW TO GET THERE?
he castle is located near residential areas, so access by public transportation is easy. You can get here, among others, by streetcar line 21 from Sosnowiec, line 22 from Czeladź and line 28 from Dąbrowa Górnicza, by bus line 40 from Katowice, or by train (the railway station: 1.2 km from the castle).
You can park your car at Podzamcze or Plebańska Street.
1. W. Błaszczyk: Będzin przez wieki, Poznań 1982
2. B. Guerquin: Zamki w Polsce, Arkady 1984
3. I. T. Kaczyńscy: Zamki w Polsce południowej, Muza SA 1999
4. L. Kajzer, J. Salm, S. Kołodziejski: Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Arkady 2001
5. B. Szczech: Muzeum Zagłębia w Będzinie 1916-1956-2016, Muzeum Zagłębia 2018
6. B. Szyndler: Ikonografia zamku w Będzinie
7. A. Wagner: Murowane budowle obronne w Polsce X-XVIIw., Bellona 2019
Castles nearby: Sosnowiec - Sielecki castle from the 15th-17th centuries, 7 km
Siemianowice Śląskie - castle-palace of the Donnersmarck family from the 18th century, 12 km
Sławków - relics of a 13th-century bishops' castle, 19 km Siewierz - ruins of a 15th-century bishops' castle, 25 km Rabsztyn - ruins of a royal castle from the 14th century, 36 km
Chudów - ruins of a Renaissance castle from the 16th century, 39 km