resumably, at the beginning of the 13th century, on the escarpment near the Warta river, there was a fortified town, a local administrative center and a customs checkpoint at the river crossing. In 1253 castrum and the neighboring settlement came under the rule of Duke Bolesław the Pious (d. 1279). After his death, his nephew Przemysł II (d. 1296) took over the rule of Greater Poland, and established a mint in Pyzdry, where, among others, the famous denarii inscribed with Moneta Pizrensi were minted. At that time, the town grew into one of the most important centers in the entire region, and its economic potential and political importance could equal those of such cities as Poznań, Kalisz and Gniezno.
DENARIUS FROM PYZDRY, ENGRAVING BY HERMANN DANNENBERG (1879)
The town's name is believed to have originated from the Latin word pistrinum, meaning a mill moved by walking, although one can sometimes hear an (disserviceable?) opinion that it arose from the medieval nickname pizdura (loser) or pizder (poor man). In the past, it changed frequently depending on the geopolitical situation and the language officially used - such terms as Pysdor (1297), Pizdra (1306), Pizdri or Peisern were used in documents.
In the 19th century, the town was located in the farthest west part of the Russian occupation and, according to an unconfirmed gossip, came within its reach only because the tsar liked its resonant pronunciation.
PLAN OF MEDIEVAL TOWN BY J. WIDAWSKI: 1. KALISZ GATE, 2. POZNAŃ GATE, 3. TORUŃ GATE,
4. ROYAL CASTLE, 5. FRANCISCAN CHURCH AND MONASTERY, 6. PARISH CHURCH
THE TOWN AS SEEN FROM THE EAST. ON THE LEFT WE SEE THE POST-FRANCISCAN MONASTERY, AND BEHIND IT THE TOWER OF THE PARISH CHURCH,
TO THE RIGHT OF THE MONASTERY STANDS "THE CASTLE", AND A LITTLE FARTHER - THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AND SPORTS HALL
fter the death of Przemysł II, Pyzdry was ruled by the Polish prince
Władysław Łokietek (d. 1333), then by the Czech king
Václav II (d. 1305), the Silesian prince Henry of Głogów (d. 1309), his sons and again by Władysław Łokietek, who here in 1318, at a convention of the knights of Greater Poland, officially declared his intention to run for king. In 1331, during the Polish-Teutonic war, Łokietek's son, Prince Kazimierz (later
King Kazimierz the Great), stayed in Pyzdry. Finding out about this, the Teutonic Knights militarily invaded the town and completely burned it down. Less than a decade after these events, Kazimierz (the Great, d. 1370) surrounded Pyzdry with defensive walls, and in the eastern part of the town, on a high river embankment, began building a brick castle.
RECONSTRUCTION OF A XIV CENTURY CASTLE ACCORDING TO B. ŻELAWSKA
rom the very beginning of its existence, the stronghold performed important political functions, as evidenced by frequent royal visits and international events played out here. The founder of the castle, Kazimierz the Great, visited it at least eleven times, including on September 6, 1345, when he signed a truce with King
Jan Lucemburský of Bohemia. Queen Jadwiga d’Anjou,
Władysław Jagiełło (as many as 18 of his visits have been documented) and
Kazimierz Jagiellończyk also visited Pyzdry. In 1382, at the end of the reign of
Louis the Great (d. 1382), the castle was seized by Hungarian troops as a pledge to the Margrave of Brandenburg
Sigismund of Luxemburg (d. 1437), a candidate for the Polish throne and future husband of Louis' daughter,
Maria of Anjou (d. 1395).
WALL PAINTING (ON MAY 3 STREET) DEPICTING THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENTS IN THE HISTORY OF THE TOWN
ITS CENTRAL PART IS OCCUPIED BY THE IMAGE OF THE ROYAL CASTLE FROM THE END OF THE XIV CENTURY
year later (1383), the second candidate for the crown, Mazovian Prince Siemowit IV (d. 1426), taking advantage of the ongoing civil war in Greater Poland, invaded Pyzdry and captured it after the honorable surrender of the castle crew. This event is considered the first battle in the Polish lands using firearms. According to the chronicler Janko of Czarnków, a cannonball then killed parson named Mikołaj of Biechów. The siege of the castle lasted three days, and its crew surrendered when they ran out of feed for their horses.
THE GHOST OF PARSON MIKOŁAJ FLYING OVER THE CASTLE AND THE CANNON STANDING OUTSIDE THE WALLS
REFER DIRECTLY TO THE EVENTS OF 1383
rom the 1420s, the castle in Pyzdry belonged to Polish queens: Sonka Holszańska (wife of Władysław Jagiełło, d. 1461),
Elisabeth von Habsburg (wife of Kazimierz Jagiellończyk, d. 1505) and
Bona Sforza (wife of Zygmunt the Old, d. 1557), on whose behalf it was managed by starosts. In 1436-44, the office of starost was held by Andrzej of Lubin of
Ogończyk coat of arms (d. 1444), before 1473 - by Jan Hińcza of Rogów (d. 1473), and between 1485 and 1491 - by Ambroży Pampowski (d. 1510). However, by the middle of the next century or so, the stronghold began to fall into neglect, and in 1564 its condition was already described as bad. According to an inspection from that year, one of the gates was ruined, some of the walls were cracked, some doors were missing, and the roofs were leaking. We also learn from this document that the former royal residence no longer had a south wing, whose place had been taken by a curtain wall and an economic outbuilding, as well as an east wing, replaced by a 16th-century brick house.
VIEW OF "THE CASTLE" FROM THE SOUTH
espite the fact that Pyzdry was the capital of the court district, the importance of both the castle and the town slowly marginalized over the years, which was influenced, among other factors, by the change of major transportation routes. As late as the 1620s, starost
Adam Sędziwój Czarnkowskicoat of arms Nałęcz (d. 1627) renovated the seat of the starost's offices again, but less than three decades later it was destroyed by Swedish troops of
General Douglas' corps (1656).
CONTEMPORARY VIEW OF "THE CASTLE" ON A BEAUTIFUL WALL PAINTING NEAR NADRZECZNA STREET
t the beginning of the 18th century, Saxon, Swedish and Polish armies passed through Pyzdry, looting and destroying it, which resulted in the progressive demographic and economic decline of the town. Presumably, already in the first half of this century, the starosts abandoned the castle due to its poor technical condition, and the building fell into disrepair shortly thereafter. As late as 1765, the starost,
Michał Skórzewski (d. 1790), began some repairs here, but just three years later the Russian army again destroyed the town, and the castle with it. After the second partition of Poland, Pyzdry became part of Prussia in 1793. Soon, German authorities ordered the remains of the castle to be demolished to build a prison and a granary in its place.
"THE CASTLE" IN AN XIXTH-CENTURY ENGRAVING
fter the great fire of 1814, the town fortifications were dismantled. Only a year later, as a result of the Vienna Congress, Pyzdry became part of the Russian Empire. From then on, in addition to the prison, the Tsar's Customs Office functioned on the site of the former castle. Around the middle of the 19th century, after the prison was moved to Sieradz, the building became the property of a certain Szaganowski family, who sold it to a Jew named Markus, a resident of the town, and the latter converted it into a granary, and then sold it to a Jew named Mielżyński. As a result, the building does not represent any historical value at the present time [...] (1901). It is worth mentioning that in addition to the aforementioned granary, a motor mill was installed here at the beginning of the 20th century, and after World War II a textile mill warehouse was erected on the walls of the west wing.
EAST BANK OF THE WARTA RIVER WITH THE "CASTLE" AND THE FORMER MONASTERY,
AN ENGRAVING BY JAN OLSZEWSKI FROM 1904 AND A PHOTOGRAPH FROM WORLD WAR I
he castle was built in the eastern part of the town, on a river embankment. It had a roughly rectangular plan measuring 49.5 × 60.5 meters, consisting of four wings, the outer walls of which formed a brick wall 1.5 to 1.8 meters thick. This wall was supported by regularly spaced buttresses and small turrets, at least one of which housed a latrine.
GOTHIC BUTTRESS IN THE EASTERN ELEVATION OF THE FORMER GRANARY
he eastern part of the castle was occupied by a three-story, two-bay palace, built on a rectangular plan with sides of 48 x 15 meters. Along its western elevation, massive supports of a brick porch were discovered. The other buildings probably also had three stories each, although their layout was only one-bay. The dominant feature of the stronghold was a tower with a roughly square plan (10x10 meters), located in the northwest corner of the courtyard. Next to it, there was a gate in the western curtain.
RECONSTRUCTION OF A XV CENTURY CASTLE ACCORDING TO J. SERAFIN
n the 16th century, the southern wing was demolished, and in its place stood a curtain wall with a gate leading to a farmyard, and on to the town. Before 1564 the royal palace or part of it was also demolished, and an edifice described in documents as a brick house was built on its foundations. By this time, the Gothic north wing no longer existed, whose place was presumably taken by buildings of half-timbered construction. Further alterations, carried out in the 17th-19th centuries, led to almost complete disappearance of the medieval buildings within the castle.
EASTERN ELEVATION OF THE BUILDING ERECTED ON THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE FORMER ROYAL PALACE
NORTHERN BUILDINGS OF "THE CASTLE" DATE FROM THE XIXTH AND XXTH CENTURIES
urrently, the site of the former castle is dominated by buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries. Its oldest remnant is a brick house built on medieval walls, formerly a granary, with 14th-century Gothic buttresses. Today it houses some kind of manufacturing facility and (probably) private apartments. Nearby, in the east wing of the post-Franciscan monastery, there is a regional museum, where one can see, among other things, items representing the former furnishings of the royal castle.
AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE MUSEUM
Private property. "The Castle" is well visi­ble from Nad­rzeczna and Zam­kowa Streets. The museum is open from TUE to SUN, opening hours:
check here. Ticket prices very low.
"The castle" can be viewed in 20-30 minutes. It is worth booking at least two hours to see murals, two churches and visit the museum.
There are no restrictions on recreational flights. The town looks most interesting from the opposite, eastern bank of the river.
PICTURESQUE FLOODPLAINS OF THE WARTA RIVER AT THE FOOT OF THE CASTLE ESCARPMENT
he town is located about 70 km southeast of Poznań, on the road no. 442 connecting Gniezno and Kalisz. "The castle" is situated on Zamkowa (Castle) Street, 300 meters east of the Town Square. To get from the center of the town to the east bank of the river (the viewpoint), cross the bridge and just behind it turn right into a roadside parking lot, and continue along the dirt road toward the Warta River.
We can park the car in the Town Square or, for example, on Zamkowa Street.
1. M. Brzeziński: Pyzdry – wielka historia małego miasta, www.miastopoznaj.pl
2. L. Kajzer, T. Olszacki: Zamek w Pyzdrach w świetle badań architektoniczno-archeologicznych, Fontes Archaeologici Posnanienses 47/2011
3. L. Kajzer, J. Salm, S. Kołodziejski: Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Arkady 2001
4. T. Olszacki, A. Różański: Badania terenowe zamków z obszarów Wielkopolski i Polski Centralnej w XXIw., Wyd. Polskiego Towarzystwa Przyjaciół Nauk 2017
5. T. Olszacki, P. Lasek: Zanim powstała Rzeczpospolita - zamki Królestwa Polskiego w dobie późnego...
6. T. Olszacki: Zapomniany zamek królewski w Pyzdrach, Ad Rem 1/2010
7. B. Paszkiewicz: Monety z kościoła św. Mikołaja w Gieczu, Biblioteka Studiów Lednickich t. XV
8. T. Poklewski-Koziełł: Studia o zamkach średniowiecznych, Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii PAN 2012
9. A. Szczerba: Prawnoadministracyjna ochrona zabytków..., Instytut Archeologii UŁ 2012
10. A. Wagner: Murowane budowle obronne w Polsce X-XVIIw., Bellona 2019
VIEW OF THE TOWN FROM THE EAST
Jarocin - relics of a 16th century castle, 32 km Konin-Gosławice - Poznań bishops' castle from the 15th century, 50 km Koźmin Wielkopolski - Royal castle from the 14th century, rebuilt, 50 km Kórnik - knight's castle from the 14th century, rebuilt, 50 km
Neighboring the castle to the south, the 14th century church and monastery is one of the oldest monuments of the Franciscan legacy in Greater Poland. It served the monastic congregation until 1864, when the Tsarist authorities liquidated the order. Currently, the church (dedicated to St. John the Baptist) is used as a branch of the parish temple, while the eastern wing of the monastery hosts exhibitions of the Pyzdry Land Museum.
On the other side of Kaliska Street, on a steep hill, stands the parish church, built at the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries in the late Gothic style and thoroughly rebuilt in the 19th century. It is a three-nave basilica with a polygonal chancel and a massive tower, whose neo-Gothic blanks give it apparent defensive features.
Colorful tenements standing on Nadrzeczna Street, at the foot of the former monastery. The decoration of their facades was created by the MUR-ALL group, authors of many famous wall paintings in Greater Poland region. The collection of town paintings is supplemented by the aforementioned historical painting (sports hall on May 3 Street) and the mural on the Warta River (Nadrzeczna Street). Right next to the townhouses are the stairs leading toward the monastery, which in 2018 were decorated with a colorful mosaic depicting an eel.
Near the village of Borzykowo, about 3 km north of the castle, a border crossing between the Russian and Prussian occupied territories functioned for 104 years (1815-1919). Its existence is "commemorated" by a symbolic border post with figures of a Prussian and Russian gendarmes, situated by the provincial road no. 442.
In the village of Pietrzyków (5 km east of the castle) a dirt road turns south, which will take you to the so-called White Mountains, which are extremely rare in Poland inland sand dunes. The proximity of water and vast meadows means that in spring the place is filled with birdsong and... the shriek of ill-mannered brats. So I recommend this place primarily in the early morning or in the off-season.
A little further east, in the village of Ciążeń (10 km from the castle), is a beautiful rococo palace, erected in 1758-68 for the Poznań bishop
Teodor Czartoryski. It is a three-story building covered with a mansard roof, whose facades, although already somewhat neglected, have a magnificent stucco decoration. The building belongs to Poznań University and is not open to the public. It houses one of the largest collections of Masonic literature in Europe, as well as rare publications of the Rosicrucian brotherhood. The park surrounding the palace can be visited for free.