document from 1363 mentions Bogusław of Oporów of
Sulima coat of arms (d. after 1398), canon of Gniezno and archdeacon, the owner of a wooden manor that had probably been erected in the first half of the 14th century by his father, Stefan of Oporów (Stephano procuratore heredi de Opporowo, d. ca. 1374). After Bogusław's death the Oporów estate was given to his nephew Mikołaj (d. 1425), chamberlain and voivode of Łęczyca, a trusted courtier of King
Władysław Jagiełło. Including his home village and the town of Oporów, which he founded, he created a considerable land property that constituted the material basis of the family for over a hundred years. To emphasize his outstanding ambitions, he wanted to found a church and build a new fortified residence, which he only partially succeeded in doing because he died only a few years after starting construction work. His widow Krystyna retained the right to his property, but when she had also died in 1428, her sons - and there were six of them - agreed that Oporów and its adjoining villages should become the property of one of them, Władysław (d. 1453). However, the agreement included a clause that the new owner's duty was to host his brothers when necessary. He was also obliged to complete the investment started by his father.
FRONT ELEVATION OF THE CASTLE
Władysław Oporowski (b. 1395) was educated at the universities of Bologna, Vienna and Padua, and then became a professor and later - at the age of only 31 - rector of the University of Cracow. He enjoyed the trust and wide protection of King Jagiełło, which he expressed by granting him the office of vice-chancellor. Władysław also participated in many diplomatic missions, including the Roman trial between Poland and the Teutonic Order (1422), as well as peace talks with the Czech Hussites and the rebellious Lithuanian prince Žygimantas Kęstutaitis (1432).
At the age of about 40 he began his church career, during which he focused mainly on offices and benefices that provided adequate income. Thanks to his nepotism, his close family also received the opportunity to benefit from the wealthy bishop's estates, made church careers, went on foreign studies and trips. Władysław Oporowski died on December 2, 1453 in the Oporów castle.
GOTHIC RESIDENTIAL WING
ładysław Oporowski was one of the wealthiest and most influential politicians at the royal courts of Władysław Jagiełło and
Kazimierz Jagiellończyk. Although he held the office of archbishop of Gniezno, the highest ecclesiastical position in the whole country, he neglected the affairs of the Church, engaging entirely in politics of diplomacy and multiplying his own wealth. He also devoted much time to furnishing his residence in Oporów, where he died of a stroke in December 1453.
After Władysław's death, his brothers and relatives refused to hand over his body to the canons of the Gniezno chapter, who, according to church tradition, wanted to bury him in
the Gniezno cathedral. The family of the deceased primate argued that he had obliged them to give him a funeral in Oporów. So Władysław was buried in the Pauline monastery, which he had founded himself. However, during the Swedish invasion (1655) the coffin with his ashes was so carefully hidden by the monks that to this day it is not known where it is.
ST. MARCIN CHURCH AT THE PAULINE MONASTERY IN OPORÓW, PLACE OF BURIAL OF WŁADYSŁAW OPOROWSKI
he property was inherited by one of Władysław's five brothers, Piotr Oporowski, a veteran of the Hussite and Teutonic wars, the voivode of Łęczyca associated with King Kazimierz Jagiellończyk, whom he supported by participating in various diplomatic ventures. He was also a successful landlord who kept in his hands most of his father's assets, thanks to which Piotr’s children could still enjoy the position achieved by their ancestors. When he died on May 2, 1467, the family seat was inherited by one of his sons, Jan Oporowski (d. 1494). In the following years the property became systematically fragmented, which was mainly caused by expensive endowments for numerous sons and daughters, and by the loss of royal lands, which had provided the greatest income. At the end of the 16th century, the Oporowski family didn't belong to the elite anymore, and their name ceased to inspire widespread respect.
THE LOOK OF A CASTLE FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE XV CENTURY, RECONSTRUCTED BY J. ZACHWATOWICZ
n 1632 Oporów became the property of Piotr Tarnowski,
coat of arms Rola. It was brought to him as a dowry by his wife Barbara, née Oporowska, who ten years later would be accused of murdering a local priest. After Piotr's death, the castle passed into the hands of his son Kazimierz, and then his two nephews Kazimierz and Zygmunt Tarnowscy, who rebuilt it from damages done by the Swedish army in 1657. During the reconstruction, they made some changes, including replacing the windows with rectangular ones and coloring the wooden ceilings with Renaissance polychrome. In 1725 the indebted estate was bought from Michał Stanisław Tarnowski by
coat of arms Prawdzic (d. 1748), who paid 41,550 Polish zlotys for it. This money probably came from the rich dowry brought to Jan by his wife,
Helena, née Szaniawska (d. 1727), daughter of the Castellan of Gostynin. The Sołłohub family resided in Oporów quite often, which is proved by the notes in the parish books. They maintained a large court as well as a private army consisting of peasants and mercenaries.
HISTORIC WELL NEAR THE CASTLE MOAT
hen Jan died, the castle with the town and adjacent villages was given to his older son, Vitebsk voivode
Józef Antoni Sołłohub, who, with his wife
Antonina, née Ogińska (d. 1773), rebuilt the family seat and gave it a Baroque style. Józef had no children and when he died in 1781 the estate passed to his nephew
Jan Michał (d. 1812), an assistant general of Polish King
Stanisław Poniatowski and later a general in the Russian army. However, only a few days after receiving the inheritance, he leased it and ten years later sold it to the Lithuanian writer Kajetan Korzeniowski,
coat of arms Lis, who purchased the estate for 384,000 Polish zlotys as a gift for his daughter Anna and her future husband, Aleksander Pociej (d. 1846). The young couple resided in Oporów, making many changes in the interior design in the style of classicism, fashionable at that time. When Anna died in 1815, it was her husband who administered the estate on behalf of the minor children, and later (1826) - their son Teodor (d. 1856).
THE CASTLE MOAT IS FED BY THE RIVER SŁUDWIA
n the same year Teodor Pociej sold the received estate to
Petronela Oborska (d. 1832). After her death Oporów was inherited by her sons, Kazimierz and Aleksander (d. 1841) and daughter Teresa (d. 1862). Both brothers took part in the Napoleonic wars, and later in the November Uprising, which was aimed against the Russian authorities. As part of the repression, the Russian government confiscated some of their land, including Oporów, and put it up for auction. It was there, in 1837, that Tomasz Orsetti (d. 1851) and his wife Alexandra, nee Linowska (d. 1854) bought the castle. Soon, the new owners thoroughly renovated and rebuilt the residence in neo-Gothic style. Its surroundings also benefited: a terrace was erected at the driveway to the main gate, and the former gardens were transformed into a much larger English-style landscape park.
DRAWING BY KASPRZYCKI, PRZYJACIEL LUDU 1844
Wilhelm Orsetti (d. 1893) became the owner of Oporów. He and his wife,
Wanda Karolina, née Linowska (d. 1917), continued efforts initiated by the previous landlords to modernize the castle and revitalise the park. It was on their initiative that a representative entrance gate to the possession and a stylish utility building, known as the Swiss House, were erected. When Wanda died, her daughter Helena (d. 1945) and her husband Jan Paweł Lasocki (d. 1935) settled in Oporów. Initially, however, she was only a co-owner of this property. To pay off her siblings Helena took out mortgages, which she was eventually unable to repay. The indebted estate was put to auction and the Lasoccy lost not only their properties in Brochów and Oporów but also some of their furniture, equipment, and family memorabilia. Anticipating the loss of Oporów they ordered a photo album documenting the exterior of the castle, its interior decoration, as well as the look of the castle park and gardens. This album appeared in 1926.
CASTLE INTERIORS FROM LASOCKI'S ALBUM: KNIGHT'S HALL (ABOVE) AND BEDROOM ON THE FIRST FLOOR, 1926
n 1930, the indebted estate was seized by the Warsaw Credit Society, and then sold at an auction to
Szymon Karski (d. 1974) and his wife
Elżbieta, née Plater-Zyberg (d. 1972). New owners visited Oporów only occasionally, placing its management in the hands of Gustaw Skotnicki, who, as the administrator, lived with his family on the first floor of the castle. Karscy planned to renovate the building and designate it as the residence of their son
Juliusz (d. 2021), but the outbreak of war made these plans impossible. Soon after the Germans entered Poland, Skotnicki was arrested and deported to the Mauthausen-Gusen labor camp, where he died (1940). The rightful owners were expelled from here in 1942 and from that time until the end of the occupation the castle remained under German administration.
THE OWNER'S SON MICHAŁ KARSKI AND THE ADMINISTRATOR'S DAUGHTER HALINA SKOTNICKA POSING IN FRONT OF THE OPORÓW CASTLE
PARTRIDGE HUNTING IN THE ESTATE OF SZYMON KARSKI; IN FRONT OF THE CASTLE STAND PRESIDENT IGNACY MOŚCICKI (IN THE CENTER), SZYMON KARSKI (5TH FROM LEFT), AS WELL AS REPRESENTATIVES OF THE RICHEST POLISH FAMILIES: LUBOMIRSKI, RADZIWIŁŁ AND ZAMOYSKI
n 1945, by virtue of a decree, the Oporów estate became the property of the state and was then parcelled out. The former seat of the Oporowscy underwent renovation, after which it housed a museum depot and (since the end of the 1950s) a museum of manor interiors. The building owes its present appearance to an extensive re-gothization and partial reconstruction of the years 1962-65. After removal of nineteenth-century "impurities", Gothic portals and window frames were exposed then, the loopholes and crenellation were reconstructed, and the roofs were raised. The result of these works is also the discovery of Renaissance ceilings with original paintings.
he castle is located on a small island surrounded by a moat. It is a brick building, built on a stone foundation and buttressed. The Gothic stronghold has an irregular quadrilateral plan, measuring about 25x30 meters, with a
southern residential wing and a
western tower. A wall running around a small courtyard and an eastern
tower-chapel protruding beyond the façade complete its layout. The castle was probably built in three stages, of which the first two should be associated with Mikołaj Oporowski (d. 1425), while the third was supervised and financed by his son Władysław (d. 1453). Supposedly, the castle originally consisted only of a brick donjon with a basis size of about 8.3 x 9.5 meters, supported on the west by two
corner buttresses. Today this building (called the western tower) has three stories above ground and is covered by a tent roof.
THE DONJON WITH TWO MASSIVE BUTTRESSES IS PROBABLY THE
THE OLDEST PART OF A GOTHIC CASTLE
efore 1425 a crenellated wall was built, about 1.7 meters thick, marking out a
courtyard area with dimensions of about 15x20 meters. In the northern part of the courtyard there was situated a well or a cistern for water, later enclosed with a wooden building of a residential character. The entrance to the castle led from the west, through a gate located to the south of the tower. The construction of an eastern wing is believed to have begun at the same time, but it seems to have been abandoned when Mikołaj Oporowski died.
PLAN OF THE CASTLE FROM THE FIRST HALF OF THE 15TH CENTURY: 1. DONJON, 2. PERIMETER WALLS, 3. GATE,
4. WELL, 5. EASTERN WING (UNFINISHED)
n the 1440s and 1450s, Władysław Oporowski rebuilt the castle, giving it an external look and a spatial layout similar to its contemporary appearance. He erected a southern Gothic dwelling house, built on a rectangular plan measuring 8.5 x 23.5 meters. The lowest part of the building is occupied by a low, barrel-vaulted basement, above which two storeys rise, illuminated by
gothic windows on the ground floor and baroque windows on the second floor. The ground floor of the house consists of three rooms, among them the Hallway and the so-called Treasury, which is
the only vaulted chamber in this part of the castle (all other chambers are topped with wooden ceilings). The upper floor is occupied by a spacious, representative chamber called the Knights' Hall, from where a brick Gothic portal leads to the porch surrounding the courtyard. This chamber is adjacent to a residential apartment with relics of a latrine bay window.
THE SOUTHERN WING ERECTED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE XV CENTURY BY WŁADYSŁAW OPOROWSKI
lso in the middle of the 15th century, a
tower was built in the eastern wall, with a semi-elliptical plan in the lower part, and hexagonal shape in the upper part. This element of the castle's architecture had both military and sacred functions: on the ground floor it was equipped with loopholes, while the second floor housed a
vaulted chapel, the entrance to which led directly from
the porch. The entrance to the chapel is decorated with a sharp-arched arcade and the archbishopric of Gniezno coat of arms.
EASTERN FORTIFICATION WALL WITH A CHAPEL TOWER
ater changes did not significantly affect the appearance and layout of the castle. The most important of them was the erection of a building between the gate tower and the western wing. Its lower parts are occupied by a passage hall with a staircase, and the first floor houses the Living Room. The wooden northern building was demolished and the drawbridge removed, and then replaced by an earthen embankment connected to a fixed crossing. A little earlier, probably still in the 17th century, the courtyard was raised, as a result of which the former storey in the ground floor became cellars. In the 19th century, the residence was rebuilt in Neo-Gothic style and surrounded by a landscape park. Besides, at the front elevation, a terrace was set up,
connected with the opposite bank of the moat by wooden bridge. The vast area to the west of the castle took the form of a courtyard, around which outbuildings, stables, coach houses, an orangery, and a vineyard were built.
CONTEMPORARY PLAN OF THE CASTLE (GROUND FLOOR): 1. TOWER-CHAPEL, 2. STAIRCASE,
3. KREDENS, 4, 5. CHAMBERS, 6. HALLWAY, 7. TREASURY
he castle belongs to a small group of Polish fortified buildings, which have been used throughout their entire existence. It is the most beautiful fortified residence in Łódź Province and one of the most charming in our country, which results not only from the compact, harmonious shape of the castle, but also from its location on an island, in the heart of a romantic park. Today, the former residence of the Oporowski, Tarnowski and Orsetti families houses a museum of manor interiors with a collection of paintings, sculptures, antique furniture, militaria, and handicrafts.
ONE OF TWO XIXTH-CENTURY BEAUTIFUL LIONS AT THE CASTLE MOAT
he museum exhibits are located in seven (eight, including the chapel) chambers on two floors, which are grouped into one visitor pathway. It begins on the ground floor and includes the following items: Entrance Hall, equipped with the 19th century Biedermeier furniture, a piano made by Henrie Herz in 1845, classical mirrors, a globe-shaped table, a travel writing tablet and 19th century tapestries.
CHAMBER FORMERLY USED AS AN ENTRANCE HALL
reasury, a small room in the eastern part of the castle with an exhibition of applied arts and hunting weapons from the 18th-19th centuries. The furniture consists of Baroque Dutch cupboards and an 18th-century Russian kidney-shaped inlayed table.
hamber on the ground floor of the tower, called the Armoury, with floor laid during the 18th century interior reconstruction. Visitors can see here neo-renaissance furniture, noble belts, original knight's armor and fragments of hussar's armor from the 17th century,
fintlock pistols, as well as a
case with cap pistols and a set of accessories made in 1853 by Gaston Renette of Paris.
n the second floor we visit:
small Living Room added with a staircase and a hallway in the first half of the 18th century, now equipped with a 19th-century fireplace and stove, original chaise longue, a set of 19th-century German chairs and armchairs, and a characteristic leaning floor clock from the 18th century.
ining Room, with its glass cabinets in the walls filled with tableware, including the Orsetti porcelain service and silver cutlery, a set of Neo-Baroque dining room furniture, a clock with a drawer, a Rococo oval mirror from 1760, and a wedding tapestry with the Pomian and Axe coats of arms. The dining room is covered with a wooden 17th century
ceiling with colorful decoration.
nights' Hall, the largest chamber in the castle with a Renaissance
ceiling decorated with colorful polychrome, and parquet flooring made of three types of wood. This representative room is furnished, among others, with a Renaissance tiled stove, a London floor clock, a Neo-Renaissance marble table, Baroque armchairs, and a 19th century Persian carpet. Portraits of the former owners of Oporów hang on its walls.
he last room on the tour is Bedroom, equipped with neo-Gothic and neo-Renaissance furniture. There is also a large, richly carved rocking chair and several paintings, including a
portrait of an ugly girl from the 1730s by an unknown Dutch painter.
Admission to the castle is paid, to the park – free.
A tour of the castle exhibition takes about 1 hour. No guide.
Photographing interiors for your own purposes - free of charge.
Animals are not allowed in the castle. Dogs in the park are only allowed on a leash.
ear the castle stands a small cottage, called the Gothic house, which now serves as a lodging house. The residence is surrounded by a picturesque 11-hectare park from the first half of the nineteenth century, which evolved from the seventeenth-century gardens established here by Piotr Tarnowski. The park is dominated by popular trees: maples, chestnuts, alders, hornbeams, beeches, lindens, and poplars. Despite the negligence of the communist era, as a result of which some valuable species were irretrievably destroyed, a few examples of much rarer trees, such as black walnut, black pine, and monumental ash, have been preserved here.
CASTLE MOAT WITH THE GOTHIC HOUSE (IN THE BACKGROUND)
porów is located in the northern part of Łódź Province, about 15 km northwest of Kutno. Driving the DK92 from Warsaw, one should turn right in Bedlno onto DW583 to Żychlin. Then follow the signposts to the castle. The nearest railway station is located in Złotniki - 12 km.
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2. L. Kajzer, J. Salm, S. Kołodziejski: Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Arkady 2001
3. L. Kajzer: Zamki i dwory obronne w Polsce Centralnej, DiG 2004
4. L. Kajzer: Małe czy duże, czyli o tzw. zamkach rycerskich..., DiG 2002
5. A. Majewska-Rau: Muzeum - zamek w Oporowie, 2018
6. T. Pietras: Oporowscy herbu Sulima, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego 2013
7. A. R. Sypek: Zamki i warownie ziemi mazowieckiej, Trio 2002
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9. H. Widacka: Troska o dekolt czyli prymas Poniatowski i pani Oborska
10.Spacerownik po regionie - Oporów, Dodatek GW, 5/2008
IN FRONT OF THE CASTLE
Castles nearby: Sobota - relics of a Gothic castle, currently the mansion from the 19th century, 18 km
Gostynin - relics of the castle of Mazovian princes, 28 km Łowicz - ruins of the Gniezno bishops' castle from the 14th century., 38 km Płock - the castle of Mazovian princes from the 14th century, 41 km Łęczyca - the royal castle from the 14th century, 42 km Sochaczew - ruins of the castle of Mazovian princes from the 14th century, 50 km Besiekiery - ruins of a knight's castle from the 15th-16th century, 51 km