he history of Rajsko is so mysterious that to this day experts argue whether a medieval castle even existed at the site. According to some opinions, what we see now is just a 19th-century imitation of a real castle; according to others, on the contrary, a watchtower operated here, being a link in a chain of princely border strongholds. In our further narrative, we'll follow the tradition that a hunting manor stood on this site in the Middle Ages, which, as a result of expansion, was transformed into a castle called Nietburg. It is not known who erected it, and when exactly. The only, though not very reliable, clue for us may be an old legend naming the raubritter Jobst von Kolditz as the landlord of Rajsko. The castle may have been destroyed during the Hussite wars, and then abandoned fell into ruin.
CASTLE ON A 1920S POSTCARD
he second life of the building after a hiatus of more than 400 years was given in the 19th century by the owner of the nearby
palace in Biedrzychowice - Count
Alexander von Minutoli (d. 1887), a great lover, collector and connoisseur of art. In 1863 he bought the old, ruined edifice and in 1875-78 reconstructed it in the style of Rhineland Neo-Gothic, using original details of stone vaults and stucco. In the interior of the renovated "castle" he set up a kind of art gallery including collections of Venetian glass and ceramics, African tribal masks, antique cups, militaria, furniture and paintings by artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Paolo Veronese, Diego Velasquez, Lucas Cranach and Rembrandt.
VIEW OF THE GATE FROM THE TOWER, BEFORE (2005) AND AFTER RENOVATION (2020)
Alexander von Minutoli enjoyed making his collection of applied artworks available to the public, as he believed they could serve as examples and inspiration for his contemporaries. In 1844-55, together with photographer Ludwig Belitsky, he published Vorbilder für Fabrikanten und Handwerker (Designs for Manufacturers and Craftsmen), presenting part of his vast collection (totaling 28,000 pieces). It was the world's first catalog of art antiquities entirely illustrated with photographs.
FRAGMENT OF COUNT VON MINUTOLI'S ART COLLECTION, "VORBILDER FÜR FABRIKANTEN UND HANDWERKER" 1844-55
uring the revolutionary riots of 1919, Rajsko was seized and looted by poor inhabitants of the surrounding villages. Part of the valuable collection was lost irretrievably then, and the remaining and surviving exhibits were soon transferred to
the palace in Biedrzychowice. By this time Count von Minutoli was no longer alive, and the estate was administered by his daughter
Anne (d. 1936) and her husband
Joachim von Pfeil und Klein Ellgut (d. 1924), an enthusiastic traveler and explorer of Africa. A year after her husband's death, Anne leased Rajsko castle for 30 years to the Verband Für Deutsche Jugendherbergen (Youth Hostel Association), which set up a tourist hostel here called Graf Joachim Pfeil-Jugendherberge. The last pre-war owner of the estate was the adopted son of Anne and Joachim, Ortwin Count von Pfeil-Minutoli, who died in 1942 while fighting on the Eastern Front.
INTERIORS OF THE YOUTH HOSTEL AT RAJSKO CASTLE (1930S)
ittle is known about the history of the castle from shortly after the end of World War II. Certainly still at the end of the war it was plundered either by Soviet soldiers or Polish looters coming from the east, or perhaps by both. From then on, the edifice deteriorated and gradually fell into ruin until 2010, when a group of entrepreneurs renovated it (2010-14), and then arranged a charming hotel of high standard here.
RAJSKO CASTLE BEFORE AND AFTER REVITALIZATION (2005 VS 2020)
oth the pre-war and contemporary form of the castle represents only a romantic vision of what it might have looked like in the medieval period. The 19th-century edifice was built of broken stone and finished with brick. Its dominant feature is a
slender tower with a viewing platform, reached by a
narrow spiral staircase. Right next to the gate, a
second tower was erected, much lower, and topped with blanks and a conical roof. Between the towers is a terrace, the entrance to which is through a late Gothic portal, probably originating from one of the Silesian churches. The current layout of the castle includes 5 suites with bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a utility basement.
ajsko is located on a steep rock on the right bank of the Kwisa River, between Złotnickie and Leśniańskie lakes. As mentioned earlier, it is a 19th-century building, which may have been erected based on relics of a medieval castle. Although, according to local tradition, the preserved walls hide decorative stonework details originating from the former Piast stronghold, in fact, the vast majority of them were imported in the 19th century from Rhineland.
THERE IS A VIEWING PLATFORM AT THE TOP OF THE TOWER
oday the castle operates as a very expensive hotel for 10-12 people, which can only be rented as a whole. It is interesting to note that in 2018 the world-famous musician and composer
Ed Sheeran and a group of his friends stayed here for a few days. In 2022, the property was put up for sale.
RAJSKO CASTLE SUITES
The castle is occasionally open to the public (when is not rented). Tour includes the terraces and the tower, without access to the suites.
The tour of the castle should not take more than 15-20 minutes.
Easy access with a wheelchair to the courtyard. Further on we face stairs, which is due to the steep terrain.
ajsko is situated on the edge of the forest between the villages of Zapusta and Bożkowice, near the road leading from Leśna to Biedrzychowice. To find it, in the village of Zapusta, turn south into a
road paved with concrete slabs, which leads directly to the castle. You can also get here by following a hiking trail along the lake shore.
There is a small free parking area on site.
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2. M. Perzyński: Arystokraci i ich niezwykłe zamki, dwory i pałace na Dolnym Śląsku, WDW 2008
3. R. Strzelewicz: Sztuczny zamek nad jeziorem, Sudety nr 10/2003
4. M. Świeży: Zamki, twierdze, warownie, Foto art. 2002
5. A. Wagner: Murowane budowle obronne w Polsce X-XVIIw., Bellona 2019
6. dzs.biedrzychowice.dolnyslask.pl: Dzieje Biedrzychowic
AT RAJSKO CASTLE
Castles nearby: Leśna - Czocha castle, 6 km Rząsiny - relics of Podskale castle from the 13th century, 10 km Świecie - ruins of ducal castle from the 14th century, 11 km Proszówka - ruins of Gothic castle Gryf from the 13th century, 12 km Gościszów - ruins of ducal castle from the 13th century, 23 km Radłówka - castle ruins from the 16th century, 24 km
Płakowice - Renaissance castle from the 16th century, 26 km Rakowice Wielkie - two residential towers from the 15th/16th century, 26 km Rybnica - Gothic castle ruin from the 14th century, 28 km Stara Kamienica - castle ruin from the 16th century, 28 km Wleń - ruins of ducal castle from the 12th/13th century, 31 km Siedlęcin - residential tower from the 14th century, 34 km
Czarne - Renaissance mansion from the 16th century, 39 km