t is likely that already in the 14th century a Gothic brick castle existed in this place, which was built by an unknown representative of the Toporczyk knightly family. Perhaps the founder of the stronghold was castellan of Wiślica Jan Topór called Owca (Sheep, d. after 1363), according to the tradition a protoplast of the great Ossoliński family, who was killed during the fights with his neighbors. The existence of some fortified knight's seat is mentioned in the book
Liber Beneficiorum by Jan Długosz, where praedium militare existing in the Ossolin estate was referred to. Initially the fortress was quite small and over the next two centuries it was certainly extended and modernized, although the scope of these transformations is unknown. However, it is hard to imagine that the 15th and 16th century owners, who performed important public functions, didn't make any changes in its spatial layout, even if Ossolin was not a place where they visited every day.
CASTLE HILL SEEN FROM THE SOUTHEAST
THE BEAUTIFUL RESIDENCE OF JERZY OSSOLIŃSKI ONCE STOOD HERE
n important event in the history of Ossolin was the acquisition of the estate by
Jerzy Ossoliński of
Topór Coat of Arms (d. 1650), who in 1621 received it from his father
Jan Zbigniew (d. 1623) as a hereditary property. It was also here that he decided to build his family seat. For this purpose, at the beginning of the third decade of the 17th century, he hired renowned architects, among them probably Wawrzyniec Senes, the alleged creator of the magnificent
castle Krzyżtopór. He built on the walls of the old fortress a small, but very beautiful late Renaissance residence, which soon became famous throughout the kingdom for its lavish decorations and rich furnishing, which emphasized the wealth and high social position of its owner.
OSSOLIN CASTLE ON A STOVE TILE FROM THE XVII CENTURY,
FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE MUSEUM IN BARANÓW SANDOMIERSKI
Jerzy Ossoliński was born in Sandomierz in December 1595 as the third son of the governor Jan Zbigniew Ossoliński and the first and only child of his wife Anna née Firlej. For several years he studied at universities in England, Holland, Belgium, France and Italy, and then at the age of 21 he began his service at the royal court, where he became friends with
prince Władysław, which helped him greatly in his future political career. When the prince became King Władysław IV, Ossoliński successively assumed more and more honorable political functions. A great success was his mission to Rome in 1633, where he received the title of Papal Prince from
Pope Urban VIII. On his way back, he met in Vienna with Emperor
Ferdinand II, who gave him the title of Prince of the German Reich. In 1636 Jerzy Ossolińki was appointed governor of Sandomierz. Seven years later he reached the peak of his career by becoming Grand Crown Chancellor, the highest secular office in the then Poland.
Ossoliński was obviously a very rich man, but his wealth was not as impressive as the offices he held might suggest. However, he was not in debt anywhere, which didn't happen often among the magnates of those times. He owed his high income to the care he took of his properties and, above all, to the great generosity of Władysław IV, from whom he received ten starosties. When his father died, he settled in Ossolin, where he erected a beautiful, though relatively small residence. In nearby Klimontów he also helped complete a
Dominican monastery and built a
church nearby, where his body was entombed after his death. He was also a co-founder of
the Jesuit college in Bydgoszcz and of the Camaldolese monastery near Warsaw. His biggest investment, however, was building in the years 1639-42 a
palace in Warsaw, later called the Brühl Palace, at that time the most magnificent residence in the capital.
In addition to his undoubted political talents, Jerzy Ossoliński was also a very good writer. He was the author of Diary of his own life. He wrote a treatise De Optimo Statu retpublicae and numerous speeches of a political and social nature. He died at the age of 55 as a result of a stroke.
VIEW OF THE CASTLE FROM SOUTHWEST IN 1794, WATERCOLOUR BY ZYGMUNT VOGEL
VIEW OF THE CASTLE FROM THE NORTH ON A WATERCOLOR BY J. KLAUZMONT, LATE XVIII CENTURY
hen Jerzy Ossolińki died in 1650, the estate went to his daughter Anna Teresa (d. 1651) and her husband Zygmunt Denhoff (d. 1655), the starost of Bydgoszcz and a member of the court of the Polish queen
Ludwika Maria Gonzaga. Only a few years later Ossolin was occupied and plundered by the Swedish army and the Transylvanian troops of
Rákóczi György. Although Teresa's son Franciszek Bogusław Denhoff (d. 1703) rebuilt the castle from the war damage, it never regained the splendor it had shone in the first half of the 18th century. It slowly deteriorated, which was no doubt due to frequent changes of owners. Over the next two centuries it was ruled by Ossolińscy, Zebrzydowscy, Morsztynowie, Denhoffowie, Potoccy, Sanguszkowie and Lubomirscy. An inventory of the Ossolin estate from 1732 gives a sad picture of a building partially devoid of roof, doors and windows. Therefore,
Józef Jan Kanty Ossoliński (d. 1780) undertook an attempt to save the residence, whose walls, due to a landslide, cracked and were in danger of collapsing. In order to protect them, huge buttresses reaching up to the second floor were erected. The still inhabited part of the castle was renovated as well.
VIEW OF THE CASTLE SHORTLY AFTER ITS DEMOLITION, ENGRAVING FROM 1826
fter the death of Józef Kanty in 1780, the castle became the property of his son
Józef Salezy Ossoliński (d. 1789), who in the same year sold it to
Franciszek Ledóchowski (d. 1783)
Szaława coat of arms, governor of Czernichów. Then the estate was taken over by
Antoni Bartłomiej Ledóchowski (d. 1835), a member of the royal court, who, after the failed Kościuszko Uprising, sold his properties in Volhynia and Mazovia and settled in Ossolin. It was then that he made the fatal decision...to blow up the castle. Thus, in 1816, all that remained of the castle was a memory. To this day it is not known what prompted Ledóchowski to carry out this insane plan. It is said that in this way he wanted to facilitate the search for the treasure allegedly hidden within the castle walls. According to other opinions, he did this to prevent his own sons from incurring gambling and drunken debts in which the ancestral seat would be the collateral.
RUINS OF THE CASTLE ON THE PAINTING BY ALFRED SCHOUPPE FROM 1860
ENGRAVING BY FABIJAŃSKI, "TYGODNIK ILUSTROWANY" 1862
nly remains of walls, remnants of fortifications and a lone tower are left on the castle hill. In 1831
Ignacy Ledóchowski (d. 1870), general, became the owner of these ruins. For him, the debris was primarily an easily accessible source of building material, which was used to expand
the Ledóchowki residence in Górki Klimontowskie. Before 1915
the entrance gate, the bridge and the tower stood here. In the 1920s, the last pre-war owner of Ossolin, Michał Karski, opened a distillery in their midst. Both the distillery and the castle tower collapsed in 1944 when retreating German troops blew them up as a potential observation point for the approaching Soviets. According to unconfirmed sources, the rubble from destroyed buildings was used then by the Russians to harden the tank crossing. It is said that even today stones from the castle can be found on the road to nearby Zdanów.
he seventeenth-century castle was built of stone and brick, on a quadrilateral plan. It consisted of four three-storey residential wings surrounded by a small courtyard and
topped with an attic. The buildings were plastered, partially rusticated and decorated with details made of sandstone. The ground floor housed utility rooms, e.g. servants' chambers, a treasury, a kitchen, entrances to cellars. The main representative rooms were located on the first and second floor of the northern wing. They were equipped with marble floors and elegant fireplaces. Among them was a library, very beautiful, gilded, with portraits. In one of the chambers, thirteen gilded beams were fixed to the walls, between which paintings of European cities were placed, and its central part was decorated with a fireplace and two statues holding the Ossoliński coat of arms. The room decorations in the other wings was not so sophisticated, and the basic material for their finishing was wood.
COURTYARD OF THE CASTLE IN OSSOLIN ACCORDING TO J. KLAUZMONT, 1794
n the southern corner of the residence stood a cylindrical tower, possibly a remnant of medieval castle, which in the 17th century served as a chapel. It was accompanied by
three small turrets incorporated into corners of the wings. The castle was surrounded by a defensive wall running along the edge of the hill, and the remains of earthen ramparts suggest that the fortification system also included bastions. Access to the castle was via a single-span arcaded bridge over a deep ravine, and then through
a gate shaped like a triumphal arch. On the other side of the ravine there was a village with farm buildings.
CASTLE HILL WITH REMAINS OF THE GATE AND BRIDGE, VIEW FROM THE SOUTH
nly the foundations of the castle walls and the remains of its cellars have survived, as well as the relics of the entrance gate and a fragment of the arched stone bridge. The bridge arcade is picturesquely spanned over a ravine, which is now a narrow local road. A dozen or so years ago, the castle hill was overgrown with bushes, which made it very difficult to read the plan of the residence. The dense vegetation was cut down and
two flimsy benches were placed here. The remains of a campfire and trash indicate that the site serves the local community :-(
THE HILL WITH REMAINS OF CASTLE FOUNDATIONS AND CELLARS
Admission is free.
You can visit the ruin with your dog.
Ossolin is in an air corridor-free zone. There are no buildings or high trees around the ruins.
RELICS OF THE BRIDGE AND CASTLE GATE
ssolin is a village situated far from busy roads, about 20 km west of Sandomierz and 5 km northeast of Klimontów. It's not easy to find your way there, so GPS assistance can be priceless. The ruin is located by the road leading from Wilkowice to Dziewków, 300 meters south of the bus stop.
While driving along the above mentioned road, you will certainly notice the relic of an arcaded bridge, which is spanned over your heads. Right next to it there is a small parking lot with an information board containing some of the most important facts from the history of the castle.
We can leave bike at the foot of the hill. It takes a lot of strength to carry it up the hill.
1. R. Jurkowski: Zamki świętokrzyskie, Wydawnictwo CM 2017
2. L. Kajzer, J. Salm, S. Kołodziejski: Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Arkady 2001
3. R. Rogiński: Zamki i twierdze w Polsce, IWZZ 1990
4. A. R. Sypek: Zamki i warownie ziemi sandomierskiej, Trio 2003
5. A. Wagner: Murowane budowle obronne w Polsce X-XVIIw., Bellona 2019
THE CASTLE RUIN IS LOCATED ON THE CYCLING ROUTE OF THE FORTIFIED ARCHITECTURE
Międzygórz - relics of a royal castle from the 14th century, 13 km
Tudorów - relics of a knight's castle from the 14th century, 17 km Ujazd - ruins of Krzyżtopór castle, 18 km Sandomierz - royal castle from the 14th century, 22 km
Ptkanów - fortified church of St. Giles from the 14th century, 24 km
ALSO WORTH SEEING:
In Klimontów, the Collegiate Church of St. Joseph from the 17th century, founded by Jerzy Ossoliński, designed by Wawrzyniec Senes. Built on the plan of an ellipse, the temple is one of the most original works of Baroque sacral architecture in Poland.
Also in Klimontów, on the outskirts of the town, there is a former Dominican monastery and the church of St. Mary and St. Jacek, erected in the first half of the 17th century by Zbigniew Ossoliński. After the last war the monastery building housed a school, now it is waiting to be adapted.