he Fürstenberg stronghold is believed to have been erected around 1290 by Prince
Bolko of Świdnica-Jawor (d. 1301) to protect the trade route leading from Prague to Silesia. It may have been built on the site of an older settlement, destroyed in the 1260s by troops of Czech King
Přemysl Otakar II. The political and military significance of the castle increased at the end of the 13th century, when Bolko moved his court here from Lwówek Śląski, and from then until 1392 Fürstenberg served as one of the two most important centers of ducal power in the region, along with Świdnica.
EASTERN ELEVATION OF THE CASTLE AT BEGINNING OF THE XX CENTURY
n the 14th century, the stronghold was one of the links in the defense system of the duchy's borders, which included castles in
Kamiennna Góra. It was expanded to some extent by the next ruler of these lands,
Bolko II, but the scope of this expansion remains unknown to us. After Bolko's heirless death in 1368, Książ came under the rule of King
Charles IV of Luxembourg of Bohemia (d. 1378), with the stipulation that the duke's widow, Agnes von Habsburg, would reign there until her death. When Agnes died in 1392, the Czech king gave the castle as a fief to the Silesian knights. Among others, from 1401 it was leased by Jan of Chotěmíc (d. after 1442), then by his son, Jan the Younger (d. 1447), and then by Jan's eldest daughter, who brought Książ as a fief to her husband Herman Czettritz (d. 1454). During the Hussite wars Czettritz took advantage of the political turmoil to engage in robbery, for which he was cursed by the bishop of Wrocław.
GATE BUILDING AND OUTHOUSES AT THE LOWER CASTLE
fter Herman Czettritz's death, Książ came under the administration of his son Hans Czettritz. In 1463, probably by force, the castle was seized by King
Jiří z Kunštátu a Poděbrad (d. 1471), who settled there one of his officers named Birk von Nassidel. The latter soon sold or leased the castle to brothers Nicklas and Hans von Schellendorf, who, as supporters of the Bohemian kings in 1477, successfully commanded its defense during the siege by the Hungarian army of
Matthias Corvinus and allied mercenary troops paid by the city of Wrocław. However, the Hungarians did not conquer Książ until 1482. Already under their rule, on the initiative of the then starost Georg von Stein (d. 1497), the stronghold was expanded (1483-90). A southern Renaissance wing, called Matthias' Wing in honor of the Hungarian ruler, was built then.
A FRAGMENT OF THE SOUTH ELEVATION OF THE CASTLE, THE UNPLASTERED PART WITH A HALF-TIMBERED ATTIC IS THE MATTHIAS WING
The 14th-century castle consisted of two residential wings and a low tower in the upper part, while its lower part consisted of a gatehouse, two semi-cylindrical towers and defensive walls with ramparts and a moat. From the oldest period of its existence comes the southern part of the present complex with the so-called Long House, where cradle vaults have been preserved, as well as the Gothic main tower, nowadays about seventeen meters higher than it was originally.
PLAN OF THE MEDIEVAL CASTLE (BLACK COLOR) AGAINST THE BACKGROUND OF THE LATER BUILDINGS
UNNAMED COURTYARD FORMED DURING THE 20TH CENTURY EXPANSION OF THE CASTLE,
ON THE LEFT WE CAN SEE WALLS FROM THE 13TH CENTURY, ON THE RIGHT HOUSING FROM THE 20TH CENTURY
IN THE LOWER PART OF THE PHOTO, PROBABLY THE REMAINS OF A MEDIEVAL BRIDGE LEADING TO THE CASTLE
fter the death of Matthias Corvinus in 1491, Książ passed into the hands of the Czech king
Vladislav II Jagellonský (d. 1516), on whose behalf it was administered by a certain Hans Volger. In 1497 the castle, for 600,000 Prague groshes, became the private property of Chancellor Johann von Schellenberg (d. 1508). Johann's son and heir, Georg von Schellenberg (d. 1526) made a transaction with Peter von Haugwitz in 1503, giving him these lands in exchange for Głubczyce. Five years later the estate was inherited by Johann von Haugwitz, but as early as 1509 he sold it, along with the castles of Rogowiec, Radosno and the town of Świebodzice, to an official of the Duke of Świdnica, Conrad I von Hoberg of Roztoka (d. 1520), also for 600,000 Prague groshes. From then on, for more than 430 years, Książ served as the headquarters of the von Hoberg (Hochberg) family, one of the richest and most influential Silesian and later German families.
VIEW OF THE CASTLE FROM THE NORTHEAST
onrad's son Christoph von Hoberg (d. 1535) increased the family estate with
the medieval fortress of Grodno and began the first major reconstruction of Książ Castle, which was continued by his son Conrad II von Hoberg (d. 1565). His grandson, Conrad III von Hoberg (d. 1613), after paying off his fief debts of 72,000 thalers, received Książ from Emperor
Rudolph II Habsburg in 1605 as a free hereditary property. From that period comes the first description of the castle prepared by the imperial commission. We learn from it that the upper castle consisted of a square tower with two clocks, to which adjoined a two-winged palace with a guest room and bedroom. The farmyard housed stables, a brewery, a blacksmith shop, a cooper's house and two baths. In the southern part, by walls, stood a circular tower with a prison dungeon.
Just before his death in 1613, Conrad III ordered six cannons for a total of 173 thalers, 17 pennies and 6 fenigs. He spent his old age alone, focusing on his theological studies and natural sciences.
KSIĄŻ IN 1694 BY E. ZIVIER
SIMILAR VIEW, PRESENT DAY SHAPE
A noble family arrived from Meissen at the end of the 13th century, first mentioned - still as von Hoberg - in Silesian documents from 1290. In the 15th century, it divided into lines: the noble line from Dobrocin near Dzierżoniów, the baronial line from Buczek (extinct), the count line from Książ near Wałbrzych and from Roztoka near Jawor. From the count line arose the ducal line of Książ and Pszczyna, whose full name is Fürst von Pless, Reichsgraf von Hochberg, Freiherr Fürstenstein. From the 17th century onward, almost all Hochberg male descendants were named Hans Heinrich.
COAT OF ARMS CARTOUCHE OF THE HOCHBERG VON PLESS FAMILY AT THE ENTRANCE TO KSIĄŻ CASTLE
VON HOCHBERG ESTATES IN SILESIA, 1717
uring the Thirty Years' War (1618-48), the castle was captured, plundered and devastated several times by Saxon, Swedish and Imperial troops. For a time it served as the headquarters of Imperial General
Albrecht von Wallenstein (d. 1634). After the end of that war (1648),
Hans Heinrich I (d. 1671) demolished part of the castle fortifications, replacing them with French-style garden terraces. Hans Heinrich I received the title of baron in 1650 and hereditary count in 1666, and in March 1683 the family was included in the honorable circle of counts of the German Reich. The first owner of Książ to boast such a high social rank was Hans Heinrich II (d. 1698). During his time, interiors and facades of the castle were given Baroque decor.
VIEW OF THE CASTLE FROM THE SOUTH, 1719
EASTERN ELEVATION, FRIEDRICH BERNHARD WERNER "SCENOGRAPHIA URBIUM SILESIAE"
Ernst Maximilian (d. 1742) transformed Książ into a magnificent aristocratic palace residence. Under the supervision of prominent architects and artists, a
five-story edifice was built in the southern part of the castle, as well as a four-story building in its eastern part, whose
central place was occupied by a magnificent chamber known as Maximilian Hall. In addition to this largest, most prominent chamber, Książ also received other beautifully decorated interiors: Conrad Hall, White Salon, Green Salon, Chinese Salon, Baroque Salon, Games Salon and a representative hall with marble staircase. The first major reconstruction of the castle included the creation of
Courtyard of Honor and an entrance axis with a gatehouse, a series of outbuildings and a bridge flanked by
sculptures of lions holding coat-of-arms cartouches, as well as lanterns and
statues stylized as allegorical figures. On Poplar Hill a summer pavilion was built, which in the 19th century became
the family mausoleum.
Ernst Maximilian was the first owner of Książ, called von Hochberg. He added the phrase "ch" to his surname after finding information in medieval documents that would indicate that such a spelling was used among the oldest representatives of the family.
KSIĄŻ AFTER THE FIRST MAJOR RECONSTRUCTION, FRIEDRICH BERNHARD WERNER "TOPOGRAPHIA SEU COMPENDIUM SILESIAE 1744-68"
hen Ernst Maximilian von Hochberg died, the estate was inherited by Heinrich Ludwig, followed by
Hans Heinrich IV (d. 1758), and his son
Hans Heinrich V (d. 1782), who, by royal act of 1772, obtained for Książ the status of Fideikomis meaning the privilege of always being inherited by the oldest male heir.
Hans Heinrich VI (d. 1833) made some changes to the design of the residence and its vicinity, including erecting
ruins of a romantic castle on a hill on the opposite side of Pełczyca stream, where he placed a summer inn and a gallery exhibiting family memorabilia. In the courtyard of Alte Burg, family celebrations and even "knightly contests" were held, among them a ceremonial tournament organized in 1800 on the occasion of the visit to Książ of King
Friedrich Wilhelm III and his wife
Luize Auguste von Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
VIEW OF THE CASTLE FROM THE RUINS OF ALTE BURG, G. D. BERGER 1796
PANORAMA OF THE CASTLE FROM THE NORTH, FRIEDRICH GOTTLOB ENDLER 1808
hanks to the marriage of Heinrich VI to
Anna Emilie von Anhalt Kothen-Pless (d. 1830), the Hochberg estate increased to include the Duchy of Pszczyna, and the family line soon assumed the title of Dukes of Hochberg von Pless. While Heinrich VI and Anna's son
Hans Heinrich X (d. 1855) led the transformation of the majorate into Freie Standesherrsachaft Furstenstein and took a part in the political life of the German state, his wife Ida de domo von Stechow-Kotzen (d. 1843) was active as an organizer of charitable actions aimed at improving living conditions of the local population. In her honor, the Ida-Stiftung Foundation was established in the 1850s, with charity as its primary goal.
KSIĄŻ AS SEEN FROM A VANTAGE POINT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PEŁCZNICA RAVINE, CARL THEODOR MATTIS 1827
VIEW FROM SOUTHEAST, 1839
fter Heinrich X's death, the Pszczyna and Książ estates were taken over by
Hans Heinrich XI (d. 1907), cavalry general and Imperial Grand Hunter, considered the most remarkable figure in the history of the von Hochberg family. Married twice, first to
Marie von Kleist (d. 1883) and later to
Mathilde Ursula zu Dohna-Schlobitten auf Kanthen (d. 1943), he devoted most of his life to pursuing his three passions: politics, hunting and charity. As Grand Hunter, he popularized the use of hunting horn and published a collection of all known hunting signals. Much more interesting than vain and cruel hunting was the prince's charitable activity. On his initiative, schools and kindergartens were established for employees of the princely mines and their children, pension insurance was organized, and libraries were funded. In addition, starting in 1900, every employee who had been in the duke's service for at least 25 years, received a silver watch with a dedication (transl.): For 25 years of faithful service, Prince von Pless. The employee could choose whether to receive the gift or its equivalent in cash.
LITHOGRAPHS BY CARL THEODOR MATTIS FROM THE 1ST HALF OF THE XIXTH CENTURY
KSIĄŻ CASTLE SEEN FROM THE TOWER OF ALTE BURG, GRAPHIC BY THEODORE SACHSE FROM THE MID-XIXTH CENTURY
LITHOGRAPH BY ERNST WILHELM KNIPPEL FROM 1850, ON THE LEFT WE CAN SEE THE RUINS OF ALTE BURG
n 1891, 30-year-old
Hans Heinrich XV von Hochberg (d. 1938) married 18-year-old
Mary Therese Cornwallis West, known as Daisy. Their wedding, held on December 8 at St. Margaret's Church in Westminster, became London's main social event, with
Queen Victoria herself giving her blessing to the young couple. Soon after returning from their Paris honeymoon, Heinrich and Daisy traveled to Pszczyna, which, however, did not appeal to the young duchess, and from there it was not until July of the following year that they arrived in Książ. Unlike
the Baroque residence in Pszczyna, the Hochberg family seat and its surroundings delighted Daisy, which she expressed in her diaries: The Książ Castle is beautifully situated: it crowns a pine-covered rock at an elevation of over 200 feet and dominates a vast countryside with forests, lakes and wide stretches of plains that pale in comparison to the distant Silesian mountains.
VIEWS OF KSIĄŻ CASTLE ON POSTCARDS FROM THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY
Mary Theresa Olivia Cornwallis-West, known as Daisy, was born in 1873
at Ruthin Castle in Wales to a relatively indigent but well-known family. English queens descended from her ancestors, and her brother was the stepfather of
Winston Churchill. From her pretty mother
Mary Adelaide Fitzpatrick, known as Patsy, Mary Theresa inherited a beauty that caused many wealthy men from all over Europe to vie for her favor. She met Hans Heinrich XV at a ball in London, and although he did not initially make a great impression on her, she eventually accepted his proposal following strenuous efforts by her immediate family. Certainly her decision was influenced by her future husband's wealth and promises of a lavish life.
In early years of their relationship, the marriage was going well - Heinrich fulfilled his wife's every whim, allowing her to spend money on expensive trips, exclusive clothes and costly jewels. However, the idyll did not last long, and as the three sons grew up, the mutual distaste of the princely couple grew. Daisy couldn't get used to the strict rules of the Prussian courts. She claimed bitterly that in Germany even flowers had to grow and bloom according to a set key. She hated servants in stylish embroidered livery, court officials in servile poses, dozens of table service and the perpetual presence of butlers on duty day and night, standing at her bedroom door, ready at her beck.
Daisy was forbidden to associate with people positioned much lower in the social hierarchy, as it was absolutely nicht fürstlich. Her travels, even the short ones, were accompanied by an entourage consisting of a lady of the court, a secretary, a courier and several servants. Despite the prohibitions and restrictions determined by her high social position, Maria Theresa kept in touch with the artistic world far from the aristocratic salons, corresponding with, among others, the writers
Bernard Shaw and
Oscar Wilde. The duchess's empathetic character resulted in her charitable activities, the beneficiaries of which were not only employees of the princely works and residents of Wałbrzych, but also German soldiers,
whom she cared for as a volunteer during World War I.
Bad times for Daisy and her personal and financial situation came with the outbreak of war in 1914. Suspected of spying for England, intimate relations with Kaiser Wilhelm II and causing the suicide death of Prince
Adolf von Mecklenburg-Strenlitz, she also had to deal with the breakup of her own marriage and the death of her youngest son. Following her divorce from Hans Heinrich XV, she settled in Książ, and after the Nazis occupied the castle in 1940, she moved to a park villa in Wałbrzych, where
she spent the last years of her life struggling with loneliness and severe illness. Daisy died of a heart attack on June 29, 1943, the day after her 70th birthday. She was buried in the family tomb, but just before the end of the war, for fear that her grave would be profaned by Soviet soldiers and looters, the coffin was buried in an unidentified place somewhere in the grounds of the castle's park.
KSIĄŻ - VISION OF THE FUTURE, POSTCARD FROM 1906
n September 1906, great maneuvers of the German army were held in Silesia, in which Kaiser
Wilhelm II himself took part. On the occasion he visited several landed estates, among them Książ. He was accompanied, among others, by his sister
Sophie von Hohenzollern - the future queen of Greece, the heir to the Romanian throne
Marie Alexandra Victoria von Sachsen-Coburg, president of Silesia
Robert von Zedlitz-Trutzschler and many high-ranking military commanders from England and Germany. Being in close relations with von Hochbergs, Kaiser Wilhelm repeatedly visited their headquarters in Książ, where he always brought a large entourage with him, which did not matter because Książ was the size of a town. Kaizer and his entourage always got a whole wing for themselves. I, of course, greeted him at the door, the invited company gathered in the hall in two rows: the women on one side and the men on the other, as in the Bible - sheep and goats. Kaizer greeted everyone gratefully or roughly, depending on who it was, and went straight to his rooms. He ate breakfast in his room and only went downstairs for lunch and dinner. I hated these meals. The etiquette during the emperor's visit was extremely onerous.
IN THE CASTLE KITCHEN, 1920S
HOCHBERGS' STEWARD ON THE ROAD FROM THE CASTLE STUD, 1920S
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Hochberg von Pless family belonged to one of the richest in Europe. The property of Hans Henrich XV included 16 landed estates in Lower Silesia with a total value of the then 64 million marks and an area of 13,000 hectares, three coal mines, as well as two plants producing benzol and ammonia, a coking plant and a large construction company. An even larger fortune, estimated at 95 million marks, was located in Upper Silesia, partly within the Polish state. It included farms and forests covering 42,000 hectares, nine coal mines, two power plants, a cement plant, four brickyards, two sawmills, three distilleries, two quarries, a tannery and two breweries. The von Hochbergs owned grand palaces in Książ and Pszczyna, the resort of Bad Salzbrunn (Szczawno-Zdrój), as well as urban residences in Berlin, Wrocław, Munich and London.
LOWER (MAIDS, WASHERWOMEN, DISHWASHERS, DOMESTIC HELP) AND MIDDLE (BUTLERS) SERVANTS AT THE VON HOCHBERG CASTLE IN KSIĄŻ
WIFE AND DAUGHTER OF LOUIS HARDOUIN - HEAD COOK OF THE HOCHBERGS
PHOTO TAKEN IN FRONT OF THE MAIN ENTRANCE TO THE CASTLE
n 1908 Hans Heinrich XV began a large-scale reconstruction of the castle. As a result, the residence received a
north wing and a monumental Neo-Renaissance
west wing, flanked by two cylindrical towers: the southern one known as George Tower and the northern White Tower. The medieval tower was topped by a
spherical helmet with a lantern, bringing its height to 47 meters. The old castle terraces were reconstructed, and new ones were built and decorated with small architecture:
fountains, openwork gazebos and beautiful balustrades. The owners' residential apartments and the immediate surroundings of the residence received a new design. In the new northern wing, decoration of a huge 300-square-meter chamber began (but was never completed). The castle gained electricity and plumbing, as well as a cinema room located on the site of the former castle chapel.
ONE OF THE GRAPHICS DEPICTING THE APPEARANCE OF THE CASTLE AFTER THE EXPANSION (THIS VERSION WAS NOT REALISED)
he total cost of this investment consumed the enormous sum of 8 million marks, exceeding the planned budget by as much as 10 times. Hans Heinrich XV's decision to expand the castle was met with criticism from his wife, in whose opinion it seemed an unnecessary and overly expensive project: My husband came up with the crazy idea of enlarging and partially rebuilding Książ. [...] When the work began, Hans was told that even when a hundred people were working all the time, it would not be completed any sooner than in six to seven years. In August 1914, the reconstruction was almost completed. It was a millstone around my husband's neck from when it began. I never liked the idea and had a bad feeling about it.
Hans Heinrich XV spoke Polish quite well and, like other German magnates of Silesia, readily acknowledged his kinship with the Piast dynasty. Once, when he was playing bridge with the famous Polish painter
Wojciech Kossak, he pointed out to the artist in pure Polish that he had played badly. When the astonished Kossak (who sometimes visited the Hochbergs) asked the aristocrat how he knew Polish, he heard: After all, I am the Piast!
SECOND GREAT RECONSTRUCTION OF THE KSIĄŻ CASTLE, 1908-22
SONS OF HANS HEINRICH XV AND DAISY
Hans Heinrich XVII, called Hansel, was the eldest son of Daisy and Hans Heinrich XV. He was born in 1900 in Berlin. His father prepared him to be his successor, so he placed great emphasis on son’s careful upbringing and the best education. Hans XVII knew several languages; he communicated with his mother in English, spoke German and Polish with his father, and often conversed in French with his teacher. At the age of 16, he fought in World War I, receiving
the Iron Cross First Class. Hans later studied in Berlin, where he earned a doctorate in law. In 1924 he married
Marie Katherine von Schönborn-Wiesentheid (d. 1994), a Bavarian aristocrat four years older than himself, and settled in Pszczyna, where he gained experience in administering the von Hochberg estate.
During the Third Silesian Uprising, he commanded a group of German volunteers fighting Polish insurgents. In 1938 he went to England, where he was interned as a representative of an enemy state after the war broke out. He was released only after three years, following the intervention of his uncle Winston Churchill, and even accepted into the British Army, where he served as a lieutenant. During one of the air raids on London, Hans lost almost all of his possessions and from then on, as a resident of Brighton, he led a relatively modest life as Mr. Henry Pless working in the wood and construction industries. In 1952, he divorced and six years later married
Mary Elizabeth Minchin (d. 2019). This marriage also ended in divorce. Hans Heinrich did not maintain relations with his brother Alexander, whom he accused of depriving him of his rightful property. He died childless in 1984.
Daisy's second most senior son, Alexander Friedrich, nicknamed Lexel, was born in London in 1905. He joined SA in the early 1930s, and soon after Hitler's rise to power, he became commander of a paramilitary unit used mainly for ceremonial purposes. In 1934 Lexel was expelled from SA and left for Poland, where he settled permanently as Aleksander Pszczyński. In September 1939 he emigrated to France and on to England, taking with him his widowed sister-in-law Klotylda and her children. There he joined the Polish army, where, as a lieutenant, he fought at Monte Cassino, and before that was for a time in the personal guard of Polish General
Władysław Sikorski (despite his Nazi background!?). After the war, Alexander settled in Mallorca, where he established a landed estate reminiscent of Książ. Following the death of his brother Hans Heinrich in January 1984, he became the titular Duke of Pszczyna. A few weeks later, he died.
Alexander never married. His spouse was indeed supposed to be
Princess Ileana, but due to a homosexual scandal, the Romanian royal family broke off the engagement. Prior to that, Alexander had many close relationships with men employed at Książ, including a much older butcher, waiters, and young miners from nearby Wałbrzych. At the time, any homosexual activity was illegal in Germany and prosecuted by law, and Lexel received a two-month prison sentence. The princely family did not accept the verdict and an appeal was filed. However, before the appellate court began the trial, the main witness, the butcher who seduced Alexander, committed suicide in prison. The case was therefore dropped due to lack of evidence. Homosexuality allegedly was also the reason for Alexander's expulsion from SA.
In 1910, the youngest son of Daisy and Hans Heinrich XV was born in Berlin and named Bolko. In the late 1920s he fell into an affair with his father's second wife,
Clotilde Silvia y Gonzales de Candamo (d. 1978), twelve years older than him, with whom he (presumably) had two illegitimate children,
Beatrice (d. 2021) and
Conrad (d. 1934). This relationship turned out to be a major moral scandal, leading to the divorce of Clotilde and Hans Heinrich, and then to the marriage of the Spanish woman to Bolko, to which the latter was forced by his humiliated father. Already after the wedding,
Hedwig, called Gioia, and
Prince Bolko VI Hochberg von Pless (d. 2022) were born.
In April 1936, Bolko was arrested by Gestapo. He was soon released, probably thanks to his father's intercession with
Joachim von Ribbentrop himself, but two months later he died in unexplained circumstances. It is likely that he was not tortured in prison, but he was deprived of access to medicine there, which may have been the immediate cause of his death.
In February 1893, Daisy's first-born daughter was given birth. However, she died two weeks later without living to see her baptism.
DUCHESS DAISY'S GRANDCHILDREN, FROM LEFT: BOLKO VI, BEATRICE (OFFICIALLY DAUGHTER OF HANS HEINRICH XV), HEDWIG
BEATRICE (IN THE MIDDLE) WAS THE LAST DESCENDANT OF THE VON HOCHBERG FAMILY BORN IN KSIĄŻ
BOLKO, BEATRICE AND HEDWIG IN A PHOTOGRAPH FROM THE 1940S
BOLKO VI (D. 2022)
BEATRICE (D. 2021)
he collapse of the world economy caused by World War I, geopolitical changes in Central Europe, and the lavish lifestyle of Hans Heinrich XV and his family became the cause of the of the von Hochberg's decline of the economic power. The symbolic episode highlighting this process was undoubtedly the divorce of Hans and Daisy in 1922 and the prince's emigration to France. To eke out the budget a bit, Daisy decided to open the castle to general public, which was henceforth visited by tens of thousands of people a year. The breakdown of the coal and steel market caused the von Hochbergs to run into tax debts in the 1930s, as a consequence of which the Pszczyna majorate was liquidated by the Polish Sejm in 1937, and large tracts of the princely forests and arable land were taken over by the Polish state for debt. Książ castle was also handed over to the Third Reich for debt, which happened in 1944, after Daisy's death.
KSIĄŻ IN THE 1930S
he Duchess moved out of the castle as early as 1940, which the Nazi authorities forced her to do. The reason for the Nazis' dislike of Daisy was not only her English background, but also the choices of her two sons, who took part in the war by fighting in the Polish and English armed forces. In the early 1940s, the castle housed administration of the German railroads, and collections of the Royal Prussian Library of Berlin were also stored here. In 1943, Todt's organization began remodeling interiors of the castle for use as a military base, possibly one of Adolf Hitler's quarters. The construction works, carried out using slave labor of prisoners from Gross-Rosen concentration camp, is referred to as the third great reconstruction of the castle. As a result, most of the interior decorative elements were destroyed,
and chambers and corridors were given an ascetic, almost barracks-like character. A huge elevator shaft 40 meters deep was dug in the Court of Honor, and tunnels and an underground shelter were excavated under the castle.
BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF THE CASTLE IN PHOTOS FROM THE 1930S (ABOVE) AND 1950S,
IN A POST-WAR PHOTOGRAPH, YOU CAN SEE A HUGE HOLE DUG BY THE NAZIS IN THE COURT OF HONOR
In 1943, on the orders of NSDAP gauleiter
Karl Hanke, the castle and adjacent areas were surrounded by barbed wire and a cordon of guards. About a thousand workers from the paramilitary Todt’s organization were soon brought here to begin rebuilding Książ into the new Reich Chancellery. Over time, the number of people employed rose to three thousand, and all the preparatory work was planned until 1950. The operation was carried out as part of the Riese campaign, and the complex in Książ was given the code name Brabant 1. Perhaps Hitler's headquarters was to be established here to protect him not only from bomber raids, but also from atomic weapons. For this purpose, a network of corridors and chambers was carved into the rock on which the castle stands, which by the end of the war had reached a length of almost 900 meters and a depth of up to 50 meters. In the Court of Honor, near the representative entrance to the residence, a shaft with an elevator for transporting cars was carved. There were also plans to provide a railroad to Książ, which, according to some witnesses, was at least partially realized.
According to other theories, news of the Führer's quarters being organized here was just wool over the eyes, and in fact Książ was to serve as the command center for a complex of underground factories and a research facility on new types of weapons. East Prussia's Gauleiter
Erich Koch mentioned that
Hitler, in Goering's presence, boasted about his experiments on a new type of bacteriological weapon. In addition,
Himmler allegedly discussed kilometers of multi-story dungeons where research on bacteriological and high-frequency electronic weapons would be carried out. They intended to use it to cause epidemics decimating not only enemy soldiers, but also the civilian population, and at simultaneously breed vaccines to protect Germans from the resulting diseases.
Before the arrival of Soviets, the underground passages were mined. As late as 1947, some sections of tunnels were still accessible to the public, but soon afterwards entrances to them were buried. Today they arouse great excitement. Some treasure hunters believe that the corridors hide bank deposits, works of art or valuables looted by the Nazis in Silesia, and perhaps even
Amber Chamber, which has been sought for decades, is located here.
odt's organization left the castle in a hurry in the spring of 1945 without completing the works, the extent of which turned out to be much greater than originally planned. Only a day after the Germans had evacuated, Soviet troops entered Książ and occupied it until August 1946. At that time, the Russians transported the valuable collection of the Hochberg Library of some 64,000 volumes from here deep into the USSR. They also
devastated the entire castle, which in their eyes represented a symbol of the German legacy that was hostile to them in terms of class and nationality. Their prey also was Alte Burg, burned by Soviets on May 19, 1945.
DEVASTATED CASTLE IN A PHOTOGRAPH FROM THE 1950S
fter the Soviets left, the castle stood virtually unguarded, which was eagerly exploited by looters of all sorts, taking from it everything that had any material value. Press releases from those days mention vendors exhibiting unique relics of Chinese art and old coins, undoubtedly coming from Książ, at local fairs.
First conservation work on the castle started in 1956. Two years later Książ received monument status, and in 1960 the demining of underground corridors and their penetration began. Since then, a successive renovation of the residence has been carried out: its administrator secures the walls and roof framing, restores floors, doors and window woodwork, and laboriously brings back rooms to a state at least partially reflecting the spirit of the Hochberg’s residence from before World War II.
siąż, besides the Teutonic Castle in Malbork and Royal Castle in Kraków, is one of Poland's largest historical residences. It is situated on a high rocky cliff and surrounded by a deep ravine on three sides,
dominating majestically over the whole area and making a truly fairy-tale impression. Thanks to systematic restoration, the once devastated building has regained much of its splendor, allowing us to imagine what it looked like during the von Hochberg family's heyday, when crowned heads and great politicians visited it. Nowadays it is home to: a museum, a conference center, a restaurant and a hotel.
BEAUTIFUL BAROQUE GATE ON HOCHBERG FAMILY AVENUE
CASTLE OUTBUILDINGS AND MAIN GATE, VIEW FROM THE SIDE OF THE COURT OF HONOR
he castle exhibits representative chambers and residential apartments, ceramics and
porcelain, as well as temporary expositions. The residence has about 400 rooms with a total volume of 125,000 cubic meters, of which only a part up to the height of the 4th floor is in use today. A great attraction seems to be
the viewing terrace on the main tower, from where the immediate surroundings with the Baroque bailey and multi-level castle terraces, as well as the stallion stud look picturesquely. Looking east, in a more distant perspective, we can see the outline of Ślęża mountain, and a little further south we spot Sowie Mountains (Owl Mountains).
RESTORED CASTLE CORRIDORS
he most representative chamber of the castle is the two-story Maximilian Hall, named after
Ernst Maximilian von Hochberg, during whose reign the eastern part of the residence was built and decorated (1718-34). The chamber is surrounded by twelve stucco columns, and the main decorative motif in it are
two marble fireplaces set symmetrically against each other, ornamented with vases and sculptures of mythological figures, as well as mirrors hanging above them to disperse the light entering the room. The walls are lined with artificial marble and decorated with bas-reliefs depicting mythological scenes. The west wall of the chamber features three small balconies, which were formerly used for the court orchestra.
he central part of the ceiling is decorated by a Baroque plafond with a beautiful painting by Anton Felix Scheffler thematically referring to Greek mythology. It depicts Pegasus and Pallas Athena surrounded by nine muses - guardians of science and art. The magnificent
chandeliers and clinkers were carved from linden wood and then gilded, and the chamber's floor is made of two-colored marble. In the past, Maximilian Hall was used to host important guests: aristocrats, politicians, artists. It was also used for balls and major family celebrations.
MAXIMILIAN HALL - THE PLAFOND
djacent to the Maximilian Hall to the north is the late Baroque Green Salon. In the past, this room was decorated with portraits of ancestors and allegorical paintings, but today the only original element here remains the red marble
Baroque fireplace with a cartouche. Adjoining the Maximilian Room to the south is the White Salon, formerly called the Red Salon from red drapes lining the walls, destroyed at the end of World War II. Although the furniture exhibited here was the property of Daisy von Pless, it is not original castle furnishings. They were brought to Książ from
the Grand Hotel in Szczawno Zdrój, which belonged to the von Hochbergs.
hen we enter the Chinese Salon, whose name derives from the contemporary wall-covering fabrics depicting
the motifs of birds and cherry blossom trees popular in Oriental art. Our attention is drawn here to a marble fireplace and furniture representing three styles in art: classicism, empire and neo-Rococo. From Chinese Salon we go to the Game Room, whose most valuable furnishings are marquetry and inlaid furniture. Adjacent to the west is the Italian Salon covered with an
18th-century plafond with mythological themes. Years ago, the salon's walls were decorated with portraits of members of the von Hochberg family, but now they are covered with contemporary linen fabric. The furniture, however, is historic, including a table with a marble top, a 19th-century armchair with petit point upholstery and an 18th-century oak chest.
he second floor of the residence is occupied by the Duchess’ Rooms: Bedroom and Music Salon, and the Duke's Apartments, which extend almost the entire length of the castle in its northern part. These include Bedroom of Heinrich XI, Dresden Lounge, the neo-classical Study, and the Gold Room, located above the baroque Maximilian Hall, which was created during a 20th-century extension of the castle. In this chamber, attention is drawn to mechanisms hidden in the floor that allow the chandeliers hung in the Maximilian Hall to be lowered for maintenance and cleaning. All the rooms in this part of the castle have been reconstructed virtually from scratch, and their furnishings differ significantly from those found before the outbreak of World War II.
ONE OF DAISY'S APARTMENTS IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY
djacent to the Gold Room to the south is the Grodziec Room, where the major decorative motifs are
painted views of Grodziec Castle before its reconstruction (Grodziec also belonged to the Hochbergs in the 19th century). In the Renaissance wing we visit the Fireplace Room, which years ago was the largest and most lavish dining room, delighting its guests with a magnificent Baroque ceiling. This ceiling survived World War II, but was later dismantled and
taken to the castle in Nowy Wiśnicz, and today only
the carved fireplace remains of the original decoration here. Then we move on to the huge Ballroom in the west wing, which, however, was never completed due to the Hochbergs' financial problems. During the Nazi era, this room was lowered and transformed in the neoclassical style typical of Third Reich architecture.
FIREPLACE ROOM IN THE 1930S AND TODAY
he castle's oldest chambers are clustered around the so-called Black Courtyard. Of these, the most elegant was the 16th-century Conrad Hall, which before the last world war impressed with its rich furnishings and splendid Baroque decor. Today its décor remains austere, while artistic experiences are provided here by a gallery of beautiful paintings.
CONRAD HALL BEFORE THE SECOND WORLD WAR AND TODAY
rom the Conrad Hall a passage leads to the Renaissance Hunting Hall and further to the Knights' Hall, believed to have been built in 1580. It originally served as an armory and later as a place where the Hochbergs kept their rich collections of blades and armors. Today, this chamber remains empty, and its main decorative motif is a
polychrome with a plant. Late Gothic origins are also found in the Curved Hall, formerly covered by a
magnificent vault with rich painted decoration, which was dismantled by the Germans in the 1940s and thrown over the castle walls into the Pełcznica ravine.
he building is surrounded by
twelve multi-level French-style terraces, which were arranged on the site of medieval castle fortifications. Before World War II, they were planted twice a year using 20,000 plants coming mainly from the princely crops and the palm house in Lubiechów. To the east and south of the castle stretches a 125-hectare park with a former garden pavilion built in 1734 and transformed in the 19th century into
the von Hochberg family mausoleum. The picturesque park complex is crisscrossed by two walking avenues, along which stand old linden and chestnut trees. At the Hochberg Family Avenue we can admire a magnificent neo-Baroque gate flanked by sculptures of two sphinxes holding vessels full of flowers and fruits.
PANORAMA OF THE CASTLE FROM THE "TOMB OF THE GIANT" VANTAGE POINT
SPHINX AT THE PARK GATE
Admission to the castle is paid - the price includes audiobook rental. We can enter the park and the Court of Honor free of charge. For the underground tourist route you need to buy a separate ticket or a combined ticket: castle + underground route.
Castle tour without a guide (organized groups are guided on request). It took us about 2 hours to see all the rooms. A tour of the castle's underground takes about 40 minutes (with a guide).
Photography for personal use - free of charge
No pets allowed in the castle.
Handicapped parking is located just outside the gatehouse, next to the hotel parking lot. Most of the castle's rooms (though not all) are accessible to people with mobility disabilities. Tours are available with an audioguide set using sign language.
BLACK COURTYARD (LEFT), UNNAMED COURTYARD (RIGHT)
siąż is located in the northern part of Wałbrzych, very close to the town of Świebodzice. Public bus line 8 from Wałbrzych runs to the castle. Those traveling by rail should get off at the Świebodzice station, then head southwest.
There are two large parking lots at the castle: the main one (no address, entrance from Wrocławska Street, 900 m from the castle) and the parking lot at the stud farm (Piastów Śląskich Street, 700 m from the castle). Price ca. 4,5 €/day in 2022.
Bicycles can be brought into the Court of Honor.
Bicycle racks have been installed in front of the gate building, near the ticket offices.
1. M. Chorowska: Rezydencje średniowieczne na Śląsku, OFPWW 2003
2. D. Hochberg von Pless: Taniec na wulkanie 1873-1918, Arcana 2015
3. I. Kowalski: Dolnośląskie podróże z historią śladami ludzi niezwykłych, Fundacja Frankonia 2016
4. K. Jankowski, K. Kułaga: Zamek Książ, VIA NOVA 2001
5. L. Kajzer, J. Salm, S. Kołodziejski: Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Arkady 2001
6. J. Lamparska: Tajemnicze podziemia, ASIA Press 2000
7. R. M. Łuczyński: Zamki i pałace Dolnego Śląska, OWPW 1997
8. R. M. Łuczyński: Zamki, dwory i pałace w Sudetach, Wspólnota Akademicka 2008
9. M. Perzyński: Zamki, twierdze i pałace Dolnego Śląska i Opolszczyzny, WDW 2006
10. M. Świeży: Zamki, twierdze, warownie, Foto Art 2002
11. A. Wagner: Murowane budowle obronne w Polsce X-XVIIw., Bellona 2019
GETTING UP (VERY) EARLY IN THE MORNING...YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT A FREE PARKING SPACE :-)
Castles nearby: Wałbrzych - ruins of Stary Książ castle, 3 km Cieszów - ruins of Ducal castle Cisy from the 13th/14th century, 7 km (on foot, by bike), 12 km (by car) Wałbrzych - relics of Nowy Dwór castle from the 14th century, 16 km
Świdnica - 15th century city fortifications and castle relics, 18 km Czarny Bór - ruins of Ducal castle from the 14th century, 19 km
Zagórze Śląskie - ruins of Ducal castle from the 14th century, 19 km
Kłaczyna - castle relics from the 15th century, 20 km
Bagieniec - Renaissance castle from the 16th century, ruined, 21 km Grzędy - relics of Konradów castle from the 14th century, 23 km Piotrowice Świdnickie - fortified mansion from the 16th century, 24 km Grzmiąca - ruins of Ducal castle from the 13th century, 25 km Pastuchów - residential tower from the 15th/16th century, 25 km Rybnica Leśna - ruins of Radosno castle from the 14th century, 25 km Wierzbna - fortified mansion from the 15th century, rebuilt into a palace, ruined, 25 km Bolków - ruins of Ducal castle from the 13th century, 27 km
Panków - castle ruins from the 15th century, 27 km Kamienna Góra - Kreppelhof castle ruins from the 16th century, 27 km Świny - ruins of a knight's castle from the 14th century, 29 km
The Książ Stallion Stud, established in the 19th century on the site of a former manor farm. After reconstruction, it served as castle stables until the 1930s, with about 80 carriage horses and 30 draft horses. In 1935 the German state took it over and after a reorganization in 1939 established the Fürstenstein Stallion Stud. After World War II, efforts were made to restore the breeding of Silesian stallions in the Stud, and since 1997 a stud for mares has also been operating here.
Currently, the place belongs to the Stallion Stud in Sieraków, being the only Polish center for horses of the Silesian breed. The stud consists of four wings imitating a fortified lower town, a carriage house and an indoor riding arena made of larch wood, considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. Currently, it is home to about 100 stallions and 40 broodmares of the Silesian, thoroughbred English, Greater Polish, Lesser Polish, English-Arabian and cold-blooded breeds. The facility is open to visitors, who can enter the stables, tour the riding arena and the exhibition of old carriages, and enjoy one of the many options for riding in the saddle or carriage.
The Lubiechowska Palm House was built in 1911-13 by Hans Heinrich XV for Daisy at a cost of the then 7 million marks. About 250 species of plants native to warm geographical zones grow here, including bamboos, oleanders, dracaenas, various species of cacti and citrus bushes, as well as date palms and vines that remember times of the von Hochbergs. Its interior walls were covered with volcanic tuff from Etna, which was brought here at the special request of Hans Heinrich in an amount filling seven railroad wagons!
Next to the palm house is a Japanese garden, a rosarium and a fruit and vegetable garden. There is also the only permanent exhibition of bonsai in Poland. Address: Wałbrzych, 158 Wrocławska Street.
The Old Mine Science and Art Center is located in the western part of Wałbrzych, which means it is quite far from Książ castle. Despite this, it is worth a visit. It is a museum established in 2014 on the site of the closed Julia coal mine, listed on the European Route of Industrial Heritage. The main attraction here is the Museum of Industry and Technology, which provides access to some of the former mine's facilities, including the hoisting machinery building, the shaft towers, the chain changing room, mechanical workshops, as well as the underground tunnel and exhibitions of miners' costumes and equipment.
The Old Mine also houses a Contemporary Art Gallery and an open-air exhibition of historic mining machinery components. Address: Wałbrzych, 29 Piotra Wysockiego Street.