ue to the lack of complex archaeological research, the date of castle erection cannot be clearly determined. From medieval documents we only know that around 1388 the brothers Marcin and Mikołaj of
Doliwa coat of arms sold the village of Sczmyelow with castrum to Gniewosz of Dalewice, a chamberlain of Cracow. The year 1415 is the date of documents mentioning Dersław de Sczmyelow as the owner or leaseholder of the village, followed by Gniewosz the Younger, who in 1425 sold it to Jan of Podlodów of
Janina coat of arms. However, it is still an open question to determine beyond any doubt whether the term castrum mentioned here refers to the castle on the island lying today within the administrative borders of Ćmielów. It should be remembered that not far from here, in Podgrodzie, only 3 km away, there was already a knight's seat at that time, so these notes may well refer to this stronghold.
GOING TO THE CASTLE ISLAND
n 1473, the then owner of the village, Stanisław Grocholic of
Syrokomla coat of arms, married Katarzyna, the daughter of
Stanisław Szydłowiecki (d. 1494). Shortly thereafter, her brother, Grand Treasurer of the Crown
Jakub Szydłowiecki of
Odrowąż coat of arms (d. 1509) bought a number of estates along the Kamienna River, among them Ćmielów, which he granted town rights to and established as the main seat of his family. Presumably, it was on his initiative that the construction of a new castle began, or the rebuilding of an older Gothic stronghold into a Renaissance fortialice. After Jakub's death, the town was bought by his brother, the generous and great lordKrzysztof Szydłowiecki (d. 1532), governor of Cracow. And it was thanks to him that the castle became a grand residence, the remains of which are preserved as a ruin.
GATE TOWER AS SEEN FROM THE CASTLE ISLAND
hen Krzysztof Szydłowiecki died, the castle was inherited by his wife, Zofia Targowicka of
Tarnawa coat of arms (d. 1556), who lived there with her three daughters: Elżbieta, Krystyna and Zofia. The youngest of them,
Elżbieta Szydłowiecka (d. 1562), it was right here, at the castle in Ćmielów - at the age of 16 - that she gave birth to
Mikołaj Krzysztof Radziwiłł (d. 1616), later Grand Marshal of Lithuania. The residence belonged then to Szydłowiecki's eldest daughter, Zofia, who in 1530 brought it as a marriage dowry to
Jan Amor Tarnowski of
Leliwa coat of arms, Grand Hetman of the Crown (d. 1561). Later, through the marriage of their daughter Zofia Tarnowska (d. 1570) to Duke
Konstantin Vasyl Ostrogski (d. 1608), Ćmielów became part of the property of the powerful Ostrogski family.
GATE TOWER, VIEW FROM THE SOUTH
n 1608 the estate was inherited by the son of Konstantin Vasyl and Sophia Tarnovskaya, Duke
Janusz Konstantinovich Ostrogski (d. 1620), one of the wealthiest Polish aristocrats in the whole 17th century. On his initiative the castle gained bastion fortifications, new cannons and an ammunition depot, as well as a permanent military crew commanded by a certain Jakub Szczurski, a captain. After Ostrogski's death, a huge estate of 80 towns, 2,760 villages and more than 2 million zlotys in cash and valuables was given to his minor grandson Franciszek Zasławski (d. 1622). Until he came of age, they were managed by legal tutors, who, in the opinion of their contemporaries, plundered much of this treasure.
REMAINS OF THE LOWER CASTLE: GATE TOWER AND WEST WING
he new heir, however, did not enjoy the huge inheritance for too long, as already in 1622 he died tragically after falling from walls of
the castle in Ostróg. His successor at the age of just six became
Władysław Dominik Zasławski (d. 1656), but due to the ordinate's underage age, the estate was managed by his father Alexander, Voivode of Bracław (d. 1629). Three decades later, the castle bastion fortifications, though still state-of-the-art, failed to resist the troops of Transylvanian Prince
George II Rakoczy (Rákóczi György, d. 1660), who seized the town and the castle by force in the spring of 1657. Shortly thereafter, a meeting between Rakoczy and King
Charles X Gustav of Sweden (d. 1660) took place in its interiors.
CEREMONIAL MEETING BETWEEN GEORGE RAKOCZY AND CHARLES GUSTAV NEAR ĆMIELÓW CASTLE
ERIK DAHLBERG'S DRAWING FROM THE SECOND HALF OF THE XVII CENTURY, THE CASTLE CAN BE SEEN ON THE RIGHT
HERE'S THE CASTLE ZOOMED IN
tay of the Swedish and Transylvanian armies in Ćmielów, although short, caused extensive damage and devastation to its interiors and furnishings. The castle was finally destroyed by the Swedes in 1702, and as a consequence the owners decided to partially demolish it. Ćmielów estate then belonged to
Teofila Ludwika Zasławska (d. 1709), and then to her son from a second marriage, Aleksander Dominik Lubomirski (d. 1720). In 1753 the last, 8th Ordinate of Ostróg,
Janusz Aleksander Sanguszko (d. 1775), divided the fee tail among several aristocratic families and minor nobility. A part of the domain, including Ćmielów, was then acquired by the Grand Crown Chancellor
Jan Małachowski of
Nałęcz coat of arms (d. 1762). His son
Jacek (d. 1821) still made some repairs and renovations to the old mansion in the 1770s, but it never regained its former splendor and in time fell into disrepair.
CASTLE RUINS ON A POSTCARD OF THE POLISH SIGHTSEEING SOCIETY FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE XX CENTURY
round 1800, Count Jacek Małachowski adapted the castle buildings into a brewery. After his death, the estate of Ćmielów, including aforementioned brewery and a porcelain factory standing nearby, was inherited by his son Jan Count Małachowski. However, he died just a dozen days after his father, so soon afterwards part of the estate including Ćmielów was given to Jan's sister, Franciszka Countess Karwicka, who in 1828 passed it on to her children Kazimierz (d. 1852) and Anna (d. 1881). Three years later, their inheritance was acquired by Teresa Scipio del Campio Duchess Drucka Lubecka (d. 1847), becoming the owner of the Ćmielów, Bałtów and Sadów estates. Her legacy came to her only daughter
Maria Duchess Drucka Lubecka (d. 1876), who in the 1850s passed it on to her son
Aleksander Medard Franciszek
(d. 1908), and the latter in 1896 gave it to his son,
Aleksander Egidiusz Ksawery (d. 1926).
CASTLE-BREWERY, ENGRAVING FROM 1885
GATE TOWER RUIN, 1920S
hortly after Poland regained its independence (1918), Aleksander Lubecki made the decision to parcel out and partially sell his property - thus remains of the castle, along with a 3.5 hectare plot, became the property of a certain Kacper Bargel and his heirs, in whose hands they remained almost until the end of the 20th century. Earlier, however, in 1944, the gatehouse briefly served as a German military hospital, and just after the war, a concrete plant operated here, while the western wing was used as a sheepfold. In 2009, the ruin was purchased by a private investor, who cleaned up the site and began restoring the castle walls, but this work stopped a few years later, and the castle once again fell into neglect. In 2022 it passed into the hands of new owners.
he ruins of the castle in Ćmielów are a bit of a mystery to historians, as no comprehensive archaeological studies have ever been carried out here due to unfavorable terrain conditions. The lack of such studies prevents us from accepting with certainty the thesis that a medieval stronghold had previously functioned on the site of the Szydłowiecki Renaissance residence. The 16th-century castle, fragments of which have survived to the present day, consisted of two main parts: the upper castle, located on an island, and the lower castle extending south from it.
PLAN OF THE CASTLE: 1. RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS, 2. CHAPEL, 3. GATE,
4. MOAT, 5. LOWER CASTLE, 6. BASTIONS
he upper castle was erected on a small island, surrounded by a moat fed by a stream flowing nearby. It consisted of two, parallel to each other, two-story residential buildings, connected by a polygonal chapel and a curtain wall with a gate. The chapel, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, the Assumption of the Mother of God, St. Anne and St. Christopher, consisted of a nave and a polygonal closed chancel. It occupied the ground floor, while the first floor presumably contained living quarters. The 16th-century castle was surrounded by the aforementioned moat and probably an earthen rampart.
PLAN OF THE CASTLE RUINS ACCORDING TO "KWARTALNIK ARCHITEKTURY I URBANISTYKI"
o the south of the upper castle a sequence of buildings connected in the shape of the letter L, called here the lower castle, was erected. These buildings in the eastern part included a low edifice and a three-story gate tower with a spacious vaulted hallway. A building oriented perpendicularly to the north was added to the west, probably a two-story house, with the first floor presumably having a typically utilitarian character.
HYPOTHETICAL LOOK OF THE LOWER CASTLE FROM THE HEYDAY OF THE RESIDENCE
BIRD'S-EYE VIEW: IN THE FOREGROUND THE LOWER CASTLE, BEHIND THEM THE ISLAND WITH THE UPPER CASTLE RELICS
t the beginning of the 17th century, the castle received earthworks with four bastions, which defended it against Swedish troops in 1657. Further south were gardens and a manor farm.
BALISTRARIA IN THE GROUND FLOOR OF THE LOWER CASTLE
nly fragments of the former chapel with remnants of polychromy have survived from the upper castle, as well as relics of the residential wings. The buildings of the lower castle remain in much better condition, especially the gate tower, where Gothic-Renaissance stonework details have been preserved, including window frames, the foundation plaque and balistraria. The latter, located today just above the ground, may indicate the successive collapse of the walls in the muddy terrain. The bastion fortifications are now incomplete, but still recognizable.
ENTRANCE TO THE CASTLE CELLARS, IN THE BACKGROUND WE CAN SEE REMAINS OF THE CHAPEL
The ruins are privately owned, and access to them is currently not possible (as of 2023). Archaeological and preservation work is being carried out here in 2023, after which partial reconstruction of the castle is planned.
The photographs show the condition of the ruins in 2020 and 2021, when it was open to the public and very neglected. The current state of the castle presumably differs from that presented on this page.
IN THE GATE TOWER
he castle ruins are located near Zamkowa Street, about 1 km east of the Market Square. The railroad does not reach Ćmielów.
Two hiking trails run through Ćmielów: the blue trans-regional trail and the black military architecture trail.
1. R. Jurkowski: Zamki świętokrzyskie, Wydawnictwo CM 2017
2. L. Kajzer, J. Salm, S. Kołodziejski: Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Arkady 2001
3. D. Kalina: Bałtów – zespół rezydencjalny, dawnekieleckie.pl
4. B. Klimek, Ł. Turowski: Zamek w Ćmielowie – historia, dokumentacja i ocena stanu technicznego, Politechnika Lubelska 2013
5. M. Lewicka: Problemy ochrony konserwatorskiej zespołu wieloelementowego zamku w Ćmielowie, Politechnika Lubelska 2013
6. K. Łopatecki: Konfederacje byłych klientów, sług i pracowników Janusza Ostrogskiego działające w latach 1620-1621, Studia Historyczne 3/2016
7. R. A. Sypek: Zamki i warownie ziemi sandomierskiej, TRIO 2003
8. A. Wagner: Murowane budowle obronne w Polsce X-XVIIw., Bellona 2019
Podgrodzie - ruins of a knight's castle from the 14th century, 4 km
Ptkanów - fortified church of St. Giles from the 14th century, 11 km
Tudorów - relics of a knight's castle from the 14th century, 20 km
Międzygórz - Royal castle relics from the 14th century, 21 km
Kałków - Romanesque-Gothic church from the 13th century, 30 km Ujazd - Krzyżtopór castle ruin, 31 km Ossolin - relics of an aristocratic castle from the 17th century, 32 km Sandomierz - Royal castle from the 14th century, 35 km Konary - relics of a knight's castle from the 14th century, 37 km
Solec nad Wisłą - Royal castle ruins from the 14th century, 38 km Bodzentyn - ruins of the castle of the Cracow bishops from the 14th/15th century, 45 km
Iłża - ruins of the castle of the Cracow bishops from the 14th century, 45 km
Rembów - relics of a knight's castle from the 14th century, 48 km