he characteristic Gothic tower in Siedlęcin village has already become a permanent feature of the Western Sudetenland historical architecture. Its excellent condition and unique character of the wall paintings decorating its interior make it one of the most recognizable elements of the historical legacy of Jelenia Góra region and its important tourist attraction. Despite the proven relation with the princes of Świdnica and Jawor, this donjon is often described as a knight's foundation, which is not true. The founder and first owner of the tower was undoubtedly prince
Henry I of Jawor (d. 1346), who erected it after 1313, presumably to control the trade route leading from Jelenia Góra to Wleń and Lwówek. After Henry's death, Siedlęcin became the property of his nephew,
Bolko II (d. 1368), and then came under the rule of Agnieszka Habsburg (d. 1392), a widow-duchess and lifelong ruler of the Świdnica-Jawor State. The oldest surviving evidence that the tower was handed over to private hands is legacy of Agnieszka, who at the beginning of her succession gave the right of lower and higher jurisdiction in small and large Siedlęcin to the knight Jenchin von Redern, a courtier of prince Bolko II and the alleged burgrave of
VIEW FROM THE SOUTHEAST, IN THE FOREGROUND A LATE BAROQUE MANSION FROM THE XVIII CENTURY
LATE BAROQUE MANOR HOUSE STANDS IN PLACE OF A MEDIEVAL GATE
t the end of the 14th century the owner of Siedlęcin was Hans (Hannos) von Redern, probably Jenchin's son. When he died, the village was handed over to his brother Heintze von Redern, court judge in Bolesławiec. There is no certainty whether the aforementioned Heintze was the sole owner of the castle or he shared the rights to it with his brother Tristan. After 1409, the lord of Siedlęcin was Hans von Nimptsch, followed by Strzegom burgrave Haschke von Schellendorff, who in 1437 sold the village to Hannos Wesenand his successors for hereditary possession, namely a farmstead with mills, ponds and forest and all the adjacent areas. In 1450 or 1451, the estate was inherited by brothers Nickel, Hannus and Joseph Wesen, the latter of whom agreed that his share of estate should be paid in money. Nickel and Jospeh had their parts for a year, after which Nickel could no longer maintain the castle. He first offered it to the Liebentals from Podgórzyn, who were not interested in buying it, so he sold it to his uncle Hannus Slegil (Hans von Zedlitz called Slegil). The transaction took place in 1452. Two years later brothers Hans and Adam von Zedlitz sold the castle to Heincze von Nimptsch who in 1477 bequeathed it to his wife Hedwig. With a short break, Siedlęcin remained in the hands of von Nimptsch family until the 1620s.
SIEDLĘCIN ON AN PRINT BY FRIEDRICH BERNHARD WERNER FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE XVIII CENTURY
tarting from 1545, Georg von Seidlitz kept the estate as pledge or property, to sell it in 1561 to Heinrich Nimptsch for hereditary possession with rents, jurisdiction, a pasture pond and rights. The tower burned down in 1575 in unknown circumstances, but was soon rebuilt. Some changes were made on this occasion: new windows were installed, blanks were bricked up on the top floor, and the entire building received a new roof. In 1622 Friedrich von Nimptsch sold the lower part of village with the castle to prince
Georg Rudolph (d. 1653) for 62,000 thalers. The tower became the prince's property again, which certainly influenced the change of its decoration, made in the first half of the 17th century on the initiative of prince Georg and his nephew
Christian (d. 1672), the lord of Siedlęcin in years 1630-53. The next owner of the grange and the tower was Christoph Leopold von Schaffgotsch (d. 1703) and from then on, until the end of World War II, the estate remained in the hands of this noble family. The Schaffgotschs extended the manor buildings standing in the immediate vicinity of the donjon, which forced a partial liquidation of medieval moat, no longer relevant in the 18th century. The tower itself, however, stopped its residential function before 1800, when it was adaptated to the granary.
THE TOWER IN THE DRAWING BY R. DRESCHER, 1885
n 1887, the tax inspector from Jelenia Góra, Wilhelm Klose, made a sensational discovery, finding under a thick layer of plaster a medieval polychromy decorating the walls of the room in the third storey, then mistakenly interpreted as frescos depicting the French history of Iwajn. Despite this, the Gothic building was not yet a tourist attraction at that time, as evidenced by press reports on a stay in the village of Duchess
Charlotte von Sachsen-Meiningen, who visited the local Evangelical parish in 1899, ignoring the tower and paintings decorating it. The first archaeological works were carried out at the castle in 1936, when, under the supervision of artist Johann Drobek, the historical frescoes were repainted. As it later turned out, the work was done incorrectly, as a result of which the story told through them was initially interpreted as a representation of Cistercian Abbey Foundation in Krzeszów.
COLOURED PHOTOGRAPH FROM ABOUT 1890
uring the Second World War, in the tower there was a storehouse of collections from the Wrocław Museum of Crafts and Ancient History, Botanical Institute of University of Wrocław, as well as valuable prints and manuscripts transferred here from the von Schaffgotsch library in Cieplice. In the summer of 1945, these collections were taken to museums in central Poland and Wrocław, and a temporary field hospital was set up in a medieval donjon. In the early 1950s the former manor buildings were adapted to accommodate farmworkers, and the tower was taken care of by the local tourist society. When, after the fall of communism, the building was handed over to the Siedlęcin Friends Society with the ambitious goal of creating here an Euroregional Cultural Centre for Court and Knights. This interesting idea, however, faded away, which was mainly due to a fire (1998). Since 2001 the tower has been owned by the Chudów Castle Foundation.
VIEW FROM THE NORTHEAST, 1930S
They first appeared in France in the 10th century, where as a result of the Norman invasion, the fortification process intensified. Initially, these buildings were made of wood, most often i.e. motte type, surrounded by a trench and a palisade. Brick towers in southern and western Europe began to be erected in 12th century. Their spatial arrangement was quite simple and usually consisted of three or four storeys, covered with wooden ceilings. The communication between them was provided by external stairs, and later - by built-in staircases. The towers were built by both rulers and rich knights. Their function was not only to ensure security, but also to emphasise the high social and property status of their founders.
In Silesia, the first residential towers were built in the 13th century, first as ducal seats at the castles in Wroclaw and in Opole (no longer existing today). About 30 towers have survived to our times in this region, among them
Rakowice, Sędziszowa i Żelazno (on the photo).
he tower was built on an mound and surrounded by a moat fed by the Bóbr River. It was made of stone, on the plan of a rectangle measuring about 15x22 meters, what gave the building the form of a cuboid. Its
walls are 3 meters thick at ground level and decreases proportionally with height. Initially, it was a four-storey building with platform, raised after 1575, so that the height of the tower reached 33 metres. Much earlier, in the first half of the 15th century, the mound has been raised, which caused the ground floor to become a cellar floor. At that time there was probably already a double system of fortifications consisting of a horseshoe-shaped wall closing the space from the south and a
circuit running about 2.5 meters from the tower. Presumably, in the 16th century the manor house was added to the tower. It was given
current form at the end of the 18th or at the beginning of the 19th century, when the building was raised by one floor and covered with a dormershed roof. Also in the 18th century, the wooden bridge was replaced by a stone bridge, 13 metres long and 2.5 metres wide, the remains of which are exposed in the southern part of the castle.
he individual floors of the tower, with the exception of cellars, are separated from each other by wooden beam ceilings, and communication between them is ensured by internal stairs. Its layout is typical for the medieval tradition of military architecture: utility ground floor, 2-3 residential floors and upper military level.
The cellars were originally also covered with ceilings, and their contemporary style is probably the result of 15th century reconstruction. Currently, they consist of two barrel vaulted chambers and a
narrow corridor connecting them. These rooms were finished with floors made of stone plates, moreover, the eastern chamber was equipped with benches having a
characteristic groove, whose purpose could not be clearly defined.
CELLARS OF THE TOWER: 1. EASTERN CELLAR,
2. WESTERN CELLAR, 3. CORRIDOR, 4. STONE BENCH
GROUND FLOOR: 1. EASTERN CHAMBER, 2. WESTERN CHAMBER, 3. MEDIEVAL WALL PARTITIONS, 4. XVI CENTURY WALL PARTITION, 5. MEDIEVAL STAIRCASE, 6. CURRENT STAIRCASE
ground floor originally consisted of two or three chambers divided by wooden walls, and had no windows. This way leads the entrance from the inner courtyard, decorated with a sharp-arched
Gothic portal and secured with
wrought-iron doors blocked by wooden beams, probably dated to the second half of the 14th century. The existing ground floor partition wall does not come from the tower's construction period and was probably erected during the renovation after the fire of 1575, when weakened ceilings were reinforced on the lower floors with additional load-bearing structure. At that time narrow slit windows were replaced by larger window openings. Communication with the first floor was provided by a ladder staircase located in front of the entrance to the tower, which was later replaced by a
staircase running by the southern wall, to the left of the hallway.
THE HALLWAY, ON THE RIGHT WE SEE THE STAIRCASE LEADING TO THE FIRST FLOOR
THE GROUND FLOOR EASTERN CHAMBER
he next three storeys had a residential character and the middle one also had representative functions.
The first floor of the tower, covered with a fir tree ceiling, consists of two rooms divided by a wooden wall erected in 1532 and equipped with heating devices coming from the same period: fireplace in the west room and a tiled stove in the east room.
The latrine bay, fixed to the northern wall of the western chamber, is probably also the result of construction works carried out in the first half of the 16th century, so it does not belong to the medieval equipment of the tower. However, the painting depicting the Virgin Mary and Child, fragments of which were discovered in the east room, has a medieval origin, which may indicate that this room served as the owners' chapel in the 15th century.
THE FIRST FLOOR: 1. EASTERN CHAMBER, 2. WESTERN CHAMBER,
3. FIREPLACE, 4. PARTITION WALL, 5. STAIRS LEADING TO THE GROUND
FLOOR, 6. STAIRS LEADING TO THE 2ND FLOOR, 7. LATRINE BAY
THE SECOND FLOOR: 1.STAIRS LEADING TO THE 1ST FLOOR,
2. STAIRS LEADING TO THE 3RD FLOOR, 3. F. GREAT HALL,
4. F. WARM ROOM, 5. F. SANITARY ROOM,
6. SEDILIAS, 7. LATRINE BAYS
he second floor of the tower, now single space, used to be divided into three rooms: The Great Hall, a living room, the so-called warm room, and a small sanitary room equipped with a stone urinal or a gutter for spilling waste. Representative functions were performed by the Great Hall, which was a place of meetings, feasts and a guest chamber. Weapons were also stored there as an attribute of the knightly state or in case of attack. This chamber is equipped with larger windows with
seating places, the so-called sedilias, and wall paintings made in al secco technique, depicting
scenes of the knight's motif. The staircase leading to the Great Hall used to be installed centrally and looked directly at the image of St. Christopher in the southern wall. They are currently located in the north-west corner of the building. It is worth noting that a
significant part of the ceilings of this and adjacent floors was made of wood which was cut down in 1313 and 1314, i.e. at the time the tower was built by Prince Henry I.
WESTER CHAMBER ON THE 1ST FLOOR: XVI-CENTURY WOODEN PARTITION WALL ON THE RIGHT
THE 2ND FLOOR OF THE TOWER WITH BEAUTIFUL POLYCHROME ON THE SOUTHERN WALL
he third floor,
now single-space, used to be divided into several separate rooms where the private life of the castle owners took place. This storey is higher than the others, moreover, effect of spaciousness is intensified by the large amount of light entering through six big windows. It may be that the walls are also decorated here with beautiful polychromy hidden under the plaster, but due to lack of funds for further research, this hypothesis has not yet been confirmed. The stairs leading to both the second floor and the attic were made in the 16th century, and their course does not correspond to the original 14th century communication system of this part of the tower. Although this room remains empty today, it is worth looking at the plasterwork of its eastern wall, where to the right of the window there is an inscription with Martin 1644.
THE 3RD FLOOR OF THE TOWER
he last storey of the building is
the attic, whose current form was shaped in the 16th century by development of a Gothic guard porch. Earlier there was a defensive pavement about 1 meter wide, protected by a wall topped with a crenellation. After 1575, the military character of this floor was abandoned, and after the windows were installed, it was adapted to a warehouse. The attic was used as a warehouse until the end of the Second World War, and still in 1952 there was a turnstile with a crane for transporting goods. The entire building is covered by a
hipped fir and spruce roof from 1576.
he tower in Siedlęcin belongs to one of the best preserved buildings of this type in Poland and one of the most interesting in this part of Europe. Its uniqueness is determined primarily by exceptional polychromes, although not only - the building has undergone extensive construction work only once in its entire history, so it presents an almost original form given to it 700 years ago. After a period of more than five decades of neglect, the tower has finally found a host, who is trying to maintain the technical condition of the building and aims to create a space full of authentic historicism inside it. Since 2001, the owner of the tower has been the Chudów Castle Foundation, which made it available to the tourists, placing in it a small
exhibition of artifacts excavated during archaeological works. There is also a souvenir and literature shop in former manor house. Unfortunately,
immediate surroundings of the tower still remind us the poverty and hopelessness of the post-communist province. Ruins of barracks, rusty hangars, empty warehouses are the local reality, which hopefully will go away with time.
IN FRONT OF THE TOWER
ENTRANCE TO THE TOWER, ON THE LEFT YOU CAN SEE THE HOLES FOR 700 YEARS OLD BEAMS
he main attraction of the tower are polychromes decorating the walls of the Great Hall on the second floor. These are the oldest secular wall scenes in Poland and the only 'in situ' medieval paintings in the world showing the history of the Knight of the Round Table - Sir Lancelot of the Lake. They were probably made on the initiative of Prince Henry I in the years 1320-30 or by order of Bolko II in the 1340s, in al secco technique by the artist who probably came from Switzerland. These polychromes occupy large fragments of the south and west walls of the tower with a total area of 33 square meters. In addition to arthurian scenes, the hall also contains paintings dating back to around 1370, but never completed, with the coats of arms of Redern and Zedlitz, as well as sketches depicting
a knight with a shield and lance, in a helmet with the von Redern family jewel.
THE 2ND FLOOR OF THE TOWER, BY THE WINDOW YOU CAN SEE THE COAT OF ARMS OF VON REDERN FAMILY FROM CA. 1370
THE SOUTHERN WALL WITH 14TH CENTURY ARTHURIAN FRESCOES
he main part of the southern wall composition is the large
image of St. Christopher - the patron of good death, symbolizing unquestionable fidelity to the Christian faith, which should characterize every knight. On its left is a
representation of two couples - the virtuous and the sinful (perhaps a knight with a virgin and a knight with a married woman), below which, from the four graves, figures of the dead arise.
The scenes to the right of the saint show legend of the most famous knight of the Round Table - Lancelot from the Lake, or in fact two most important periods of his life: the beginning of glory and the fall. The bottom line of the frescoes, with which we should start "reading" this story, is Lancelot's expedition with his cousin Lionel, during which they intend to prove that they deserve to be called knights. Here we see sleeping Lancelot and Lionel and a
duel between Lancelot and Tarquin. The upper line shows the story of Lancelot's sinful love for King Arthur's wife, Guinevere. In the following scenes, like in a comic book, the characters appear successively:
beautiful Guinevere sitting in the background of Camelot Castle, telling the knights that she wants to go for a ride, Guinevere on horseback in the bosom of nature,
the hijacking by the vile Meleagant, Lancelot releasing the prisoners, Lancelot falling in love with the Queen, and finally
Lancelot and Guinevere holding hands. The lovers' left hands intertwining in the embrace are a sign that the relationship is sinful - the spouses in medieval paintings always hold their right hands.
SIEDLĘCIN POLYCHROMES: CURRENT STATE AND PROBABLE OUTLOOK IN THE XIV CENTURY
he frescoes in the Great Hall have never been completed. The western wall is decorated only with
sketches with the image of the knights attacking each other, interpreted as a duel between Lancelot and Sagramour, and the scene where the
kneeling Lancelot heals Urry de Hongre. It is not known why the wall painting project was interrupted. One can only presume that it happened as a result of the artist's or founder's death, or due to a lack of funds necessary to finalize this very expensive decoration. Polychromies from Siedlęcin were initially perceived as the story of knight Iwajn or presentation of the foundation of Cistercian convent in Krzeszów. This second interpretation was the result of the unfortunate conservation of the frescoes performed in the interwar period by Johann Drobek, who made many changes of paint. As a result, a line of beautiful ladies in colourful dresses became a procession of monks in dark habits, while scene where Guinevere and Lancelot are holding hands was transformed into the welcoming of Prince Bolko by the abbot.
NORTHERN WALL ON THE 2ND FLOOR WITH LATRINE BAY AND WINDOW DECORATED WITH THE VON REDERN COAT OF ARMS
MEDIEVAL WINDOW WITH BENCHES IN THE SOUTH WALL OF THE TOWER
To visit the tower you need to buy a ticket.
Private photography - free. The use of a flash is not permitted.
A tour of the tower takes about 30 minutes.
Airport Traffic Zone. When the zone isn't active, you are allowed to fly aircraft weighing up to 900 g, to an altitude of up to 100 meters.
iedlęcin is located about 5 kilometres north of Jelenia Góra. The village can be reached by city bus line no. 5 from Jelenia Góra (a bus stop is close to the farm buildings). There are also picturesque hiking and biking trails, among them an attractive trail from the guesthouse Perła Zachodu (Turmsteinbaude). The tower stands at the edge of the village, between the church and the bridge on the Bóbr River. (map of castles in Lower Silesia Voivodeship)
Bikes can only be left in an unguarded place in front of the manor house.
1. D. Adamska: Siedlęcin, czyli „wieś Rudigera”, Stowarzyszenie Wieża Książęca w Siedlęcinie 2016
2. M. Chorowska: Rezydencje średniowieczne na Śląsku, OFPWW 2003
3. M. Hislop: Jak czytać zamki. Krótki kurs wiedzy o fortyfikacjach, Arkady 2018
4. L. Kajzer, J. Salm, S. Kołodziejski: Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Arkady 2001
5. I. Łaborewicz: Piastowskie świadectwa, Sudety 2/2001
6. R. M. Łuczyński: Zamki, dwory i pałace w Sudetach, Wspólnota Akademicka 2008
7. P. Nocuń: Wieża książęca w Siedlęcinie..., Stowarzyszenie Wieża Książęca w Siedlęcinie 2016
8. A. M. Rosiek: Siedziby rycerskie w księstwie świdnicko-jaworskim..., Wydział Historyczny UJ 2010
9. M. Świeży: Zamki, twierdze, warownie, Foto Art 2002
10.M. Perzyński: Zamki, twierdze i pałace Dolnego Śląska i Opolszczyzny, 2006
11. A. Wagner: Murowane budowle obronne w Polsce X-XVIIw., Bellona 2019
THE RESIUDES OF MEDIEVAL MOAT
Castles nearby: Rybnica - the ruin of castle from the 14th century, 8 km
Czarne - the Renaissance manor house from the 16th century, 9 km Stara Kamienica - the ruin of knight's castle from the 16th century, 11 km
Dziwiszów - the noble castle from the 16th century, 14 km Wleń - the ruin of prince's castle from the 12/13th century, 15 km Chojnik - the ruin of prince's castle from the 14th century, 17 km Bukowiec - the manor house from the 16th century, 20 km
In Siedlęcin the Church of St. Nicholas, first mentioned in 1399, but its present form comes from the 16th century. It is an orientated, single-aisle building with a narrower two-span presbytery and a square tower to the west. At the entrance to the temple, 14th-century Gothic sharp-edged portals with wooden door fittings. Interior design is baroque, but relatively modest. The most valuable and oldest piece of equipment is a mystical crucifix with a life-sized figure of Christ, probably made in a local workshop around 1500. Also noteworthy are the polychromed altar from 1696, the 18th century pipe organ and the wooden, polychromed pulpit dating from the same period. Plastered external facades are decorated with epitaphs depicting the married couple von Nietsch and the statues of St. Florian and Leonard.
2 kilometers south of the tower, the former tourist hostel, and now a guesthouse named Perła Zachodu (Jewel of the West), built in 1950 on the site of the German inn Turmsteinbaude, to which it refers in style. This building, picturesquely situated on the edge of a cliff, was very popular among local residents at the beginning of its existence. With time, however, due to the pollution of the Bóbr River, he was practically not visited. Today, as the ecological situation has improved, it has again become a destination for numerous excursions.
The Pilchowicka Dike on the Bóbr River was erected near the road to Wleń, a few kilometres north of the tower. It is the largest stone dike in Poland, and the second largest in general, smaller only than Solina in Bieszczady Mountains. It was built between 1902-14 by company B. Liebold & Co. AG to protect the surrounding area from flooding, and the scale of this investment and its technical sophistication made the opening ceremony honoured by Emperor Wilhelm II himself. The height of the dike is 62 meters and the length of its top is 270 meters. The construction of the dike resulted in a picturesque lake of 240 hectares with a capacity of 50 million cubic meters.