he oldest existing historical reference to a location named Koło is found in the town charter issued in July 1362 by King
Kazimierz Wielki (Casimir the Great, d. 1370). Presumably, however, the castle at this place functioned much earlier, perhaps during the reign of the Polish King
Władysław Łokietek (d. 1333) or even at the time of Czech King
Václav II (d. 1305), who ruled Greater Poland in years 1300-1305. Although a 15th-century Polish chronicler Jan Długosz suggests that the fortified castle was built on the initiative of the aforementioned Casimir the Great, it is very likely that the last Piast ruler on the Polish throne merely modernized or expanded it. From the very beginning, the stronghold defended the northern borders of the Polish Kingdom against Teutonic invasion, in addition, it secured the Warta River crossing and served as a customs.
VIEW OF THE CASTLE FROM THE ROAD LEADING TO THE TOWN
In the medieval charter, the mayor of Koło, Henricus, was granted the right to build and own a house on a tax-free plot of land, as well as the right to build a manor house, a bathhouse and two mills. It is presumed that this manor was the royal manor, mentioned many times later in documents, which was used by the kings during their stay in town of Koło. Hence the conclusion that the castle, although royal, did not serve the rulers as a residence at least as long as the manor existed.
THE TOWN HALL (IN THE PHOTO) WAS BUILT ON THE SITE WHERE THE ROYAL MANOR STOOD IN THE MIDDLE AGES
t least from the mid-14th century, the castle served as the seat of royal starosts. In 1383, the post of starosta of Koło was held by Krystyn of Koziegłowy,
coat of arms Lis (d. 1417), capitaneus in Colo, who, together with several other lords, terribly plundered Turek and Grzegorzew towns (that belonged to Archbishop
Bodzanta). Krystyn’s armed expeditions were part of the warfare carried out between the feuding Grzymalita and Nałęcz families, which had different views on the question of how to fill the Polish throne after the death of
Louis of Hungary (Nagy Lajos, d. 1382). Krystyn belonged to the Grzymalita family line, that is, he supported the candidacy of Jadwiga of Andegavia (Louis’ daughter), while Archbishop Bodzanta, aggrieved by the raid, was a supporter of the Nałęcz family and follower of Siemowit IV, Duke of Mazovia. After Krystyn's death, his son, Krystyn the younger of Koziegłowy (d. 1437), inherited the office of starosta of Koło.
THE OLDEST KNOWN VIEW OF THE CASTLE IN KOŁO,
SAMUEL PUFENDORF "DE REBUS A CAROLO GUSTAVO GESTIS", 1656
tarting from the reign of Władysław Jagiełło (d. 1434), the castle was frequently visited by kings (35 visits of
Władysław Jagiełło and 15 visits of
Kazimierz Jagiellończyk are documented) and by the nobility of Greater Poland, who participated in periodic reunions here. Also in Koło, during the war against the Teutonic Order (1431-35), the king deliberated with the crown council and made the most important decisions on how to conduct the war campaign. In 1447, Jan Zawiszyc of Garbowo of
Sulima Coat of Arms (d. 1454), one of several sons of the famous Polish knight Zawisza Czarny, served as starosta of Koło. After his tragic death on the battlefields near Chojnice, his body was carried away and buried in the Holy Cross parish church, where the
commemorative tombstone still exists.
CHURCH OF THE HOLY CROSS WHERE THE BODY OF JAN ZAWISZYC WAS LAID TO REST
n 1463, King
Kazimierz Jagiellończyk (probably as a reward for his merits) granted the Koło castle with the town of Brdów and adjoining villages to Sandomierz castellan Jan Hińcza of Rogówcoat of arms Działosza (d. 1474) for life. When Hińcza died, Dziersław of Bielawy and Młogoszyn took over the office, but just two years later he was forced to cede it to Duchess Anna of Oleśnica (d. 1481), for whom the land of Koło was to be royal compensation for the incorporation by the Polish Kingdom of the Duchy of Sochaczew, which she had inherited. In the same year (1476), a procession returning from the wedding ceremony of
Jadwiga Jagiellonka and the Bavarian Margrave
Georg der Reiche stopped at the castle. The stay of the participants of the famous
Landshuter Hohzeit, as it soon turned out, infected with the epidemic during their time in Bavaria, led to further infections and the deaths of many Polish knights and court officials.
DRAWING BY ALFRED SCHOUPPE, 1861
fter Anna's death (1481), her trusted courtier Sławiec of Niemygłowy,
coat of arms Bolesta (d. 1499), took over the post of starosta. A year later, the castle was administered by Jarand of Brudzew of
Pomian coat of arms (in 1485-87), followed by Ambroży Pampowski of
Poronia coat of arms (in 1487-91) and finally Jan Kościelecki of
Ogończyk coat of arms (from 1491), who received the office in exchange for a loan of 2,800 florins granted to King
Jan Olbracht. When Kościelecki died in 1499, Gyorgy de Paludia, a Hungarian or Slovakian-born knight, became the starosta of Koło. Seven years later, he sold the rights to the office to Jarosław Sokołowki of Wrząca (d. 1518), who had close relations with Czech King
Vladislav Jagellonský, which made him regarded among the Polish nobility as a highly empowered person, secretary and even royal treasurer. In 1507, Sokołowski allocated 500 florins for renovation of the castle, where three years later he welcomed the newly married Marie de Marcellanges, lady-in-waiting to
Anna de Foix of Bohemia (the king's wife).
WOOD ENGRAVING BY K. PIAST BASED ON A DRAWING BY W. GOŚCIMSKI, "TYGODNIK POWSZECHNY" 1882
year after the death of Jarosław Sokołowski, a daughter of the richest citizen of Wielkopolska, Anna Górka of
Łodzia coat of arms, and wife of
Piotr Kmita of
Śreniawa coat of arms (d. 1553), took over the office. When she died in 1542 without living to see a male descendant, Koło passed into the hands of her brother's son,
Stanisław Górka of Kórnik, governor of Poznań (d. 1592), and when he too died childless, the estate returned to royal administration. After the extinction of the Jagiellonian dynasty, most likely none of the next kings, that is, Henry Valois, Stefan Batory, the Vasas and the following ones, hosted at the castle anymore. By this time, it no longer performed significant functions, and its military role was at best secondary, which was mainly due to the rapid development of artillery.
LITHOGRAPH BY NAPOLEON ORDA, 1880S
t the beginning of the 17th century, the starosts and burgraves of Koło no longer held their offices in the Gothic castle, but in the manor house in Kościelec, although some attempts were still made to modernize it. However, these efforts failed, as by the middle of the 17th century the castle was already described as castellum destructum. In 1656, Swedish troops completed the work of its destruction by blowing it up. At the end of the 17th century, by royal grant, the ruin became the property of the Bernardine Order, who undertook its demolition to obtain building material and restore the flood-damaged
monastery church. The solid joints of the bricks prevented them from pulling down all the walls, so the castle has survived to present day at least in residual form.
he castle was built in a bend of the Warta River, which in those days flowed with several branches, so that in some months the stronghold could be completely surrounded by water. Presumably, in the first half of the 14th century, it consisted of a masonry donjon surrounded by wooden fortifications or a wooden and earthen rampart. This tower was built on a rectangular plan with sides of 11.8x15.5 meters, and its walls were about 2.50 meters thick. The interior consisted of two rooms on each floor. One of these rooms was probably equipped with a well, in which archaeologists have found Teutonic coins minted during the reigns of Grand Masters
Winrich von Kniprode (d. 1382) and
Johann von Tieffen (d. 1497).
FOUNDATIONS OF THE DONJON, PRESUMABLY THE OLDEST PART OF THE CASTLE
round the middle of the 14th century, Casimir the Great erected brick and stone walls next to the existing donjon, forming a rectangle with sides of about 30x50 meters. In the southern corner of the castle has stood a bergfried, square at the bottom, cylindrical above with an outer diameter of 8 meters and a total height of about 20 meters. The entrance to this tower was above the height of the castle walls and a brick staircase (hollowed out in the wall) provided communication with its upper floors. In the southern wall, next to the bergfried, a wicket gate was located (there is a hypothesis that the castle had no gate allowing the entry of vehicles!), and next to it a third tower, erected on a rectangular plan with sides of 8 x 9 meters.
THE MAIN TOWER
THE UNORIGINAL ENTRANCE TO THE TOWER (MADE AFTER THE FALL OF THE CASTLE)
RELICS OF THE THIRD TOWER AT THE SOUTH WALL
part from the aforementioned donjon and two towers, the rest of the castle's buildings were probably made of wood. Therefore, the daily life, as well as the political activities of the highest-ranking residents and visitors, was concentrated just in the donjon, which consisted of at least three stories and could be higher than the main tower. The castle courtyard had a utilitarian rather than representative function, and this belief is further strengthened by the fact that it was not paved. However, a farmyard located to the southwest of the castle served economic purposes. It was here that all the farm buildings were situated, all the facilities serving the castle and its inhabitants, i.e. a kitchen, smithy, stables, pigsties etc.
PLAN AND BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF THE RUINS: 1. DONJON, 2. MAIN TOWER, 3. THIRD TOWER
the perimeter wall have survived, especially its western part (the eastern part collapsed
due to undermining by the river),
the corner tower up to a height of 16 meters, as well as relics of the third tower and foundations of the donjon. In 2020, work began to conserve and protect the ruins, with plans to develop them for wide-ranging recreation and leisure activities.
We need no more than a quarter of an hour to visit the ruins.
You can come here together with your dog.
The place is friendly for aircraft flights.
VIEW OF THE RUINS FROM THE NORTH....
...AND FROM THE EAST
he ruin is located among the floodplains of the Warta River, on its southern bank (the town is on the northern bank). Address: Zamkowa Street.
Zamkowa Street is a dirt road, and not of the best quality. However, any passenger car can handle it without a problem. There are no designated parking lots near the castle, but there is plenty of space.
1. A. Gąsiorowski: Kolskie starostwo i kolscy starostowie w czasach jagiellońskich, 2012
2. L. Kajzer, J. Salm, S. Kołodziejski: Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Arkady 2001
3. T. Olszacki: Zanim powstała Rzeczpospolita - zamki Królestwa Polskiego...
4. T. Olszacki, P. Lasek: Zamek w Kole w świetle wyników badań archeologicznych (1977-1983)..., 2012
5. G. Rutkowska: Jagiellonowie w Kole, 2012
6. A. Wagner: Murowane budowle obronne w Polsce X-XVIIw., Bellona 2019
VIEW OF THE RUINS FROM THE EAST
PANORAMA OF THE TOWN OF KOŁO
Castles nearby: Borysławice Zamkowe - ruins of the noble castle from the 15th century, 19 km Wyszyna - relics of the noble castle from the 16th century, 20 km Besiekiery - ruins of the knight's castle from the 15th/16th centuries, 30 km
Przedecz - relics of the royal castle from the 14th century, 31 km Konin - the Poznań bishops' castle from the 15th century, 37 km Uniejów - the Gniezno bishops' castle from the 14th century, 38 km