he brick castle in Świecie was probably built by Duke Bernard of Świdnica-Jawor (d. 1326) or his younger brother
Henry I (d. 1346). The oldest preserved documents concerning the stronghold date back to 1329, when it, then called castrum Sweta, served as one of the elements of the defence system protecting the south-western borderlands of Silesia against Czech invasions and guarding the trade route leading from Lusatia to Jelenia Góra. In 1337, following an agreement with King
John of Luxemburg(Johann von Luxemburg, d. 1346), Duke Henry I ceded to him part of the Lusatian district including the castle, receiving in return the right to rule the Duchy of Głogów for life. Under Czech rule, Świecie lost its position, firstly strategically (as it was no longer a border castle), and shortly afterwards also economically, when the road leading near it was downgraded to a secondary route (its functions were taken over by Via Regia - the royal route running through Zgorzelec).
n the second half of the 14th century Świecie came into the possession of Bohemian knightly families. From 1385 it belonged to Heinrich von Uechtritz (d. ca. 1427) and from then until 1638 it served as the seat of representatives of various lines of this noble family. A fire broke out in the castle at Easter 1527, destroying the entire archive, a mill and a nearby tavern, while the owner Katherine von Uechtritz and her children miraculously escaped death by flames. Shortly after this dramatic event, the stronghold was rebuilt and its walls modernised to enable active artillery defence.
RESIDENTIAL TOWER, VIEW FROM THE EAST
fter 1638 the castle belonged to the von Meurer family, and in 1665 it passed to a certain Daniel von Löben. He was succeeded by Ferdinand Adolph (d. 1705), and then by Johanne Victorie Tugendreich von Löben (d. 1747), wife of the Duke of Courland
Maurice de Saxe (d. 1750), who (she) in 1719 sold Świecie and the surrounding lands to the Royal Marshal
Jakob Heinrich Flemming (d. 1728). Around this time, the castle burst into flames again. During its repair, a comfortable Baroque manor house was erected in the eastern part of the courtyard, which radically changed the character of the entire building.
THE CASTLE AND BAROQUE MANOR HOUSE ON A POSTCARD FROM THE 1920S
THE MANOR HOUSE IS NOW A COMPLETE RUIN
n 1725, Jakob Flemming sold Świecie to the Polish-Saxon minister Jan Kazimierz Raysky. However, the latter lost it just four years later to King
August II the Strong (d. 1733), who soon afterwards gave these lands for 52,000 thalers to Wolf Adolph von Gersdorff (d. 1749), a Saxon general. After the general's death, the local estate was inherited by his minor nephew
Adolph Trugott von Gersdorff (d. 1809), a future philanthropist, naturalist and scientist dealing with phenomena of atmospheric electricity. He did not live in the castle, of course, but in the family estate of Rengensdorff and later in the beautiful
palace in Pobiedna. By this time, technical condition of the medieval stronghold was so bad that it was abandoned around 1760.
TURRET IN THE EASTERN PART OF THE CASTLE, AS IT STOOD IN THE 1930S AND TODAY (2022)
n 1827, a fire broke out at the castle, irreversibly turning it into a ruin. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was purchased by
Ernst Gütschow (d. 1946), a wealthy industrialist and owner of the Czocha estate. He planned to reconstruct the former ducal stronghold, but eventually abandoned this idea, focusing his efforts on a major rebuilding of
Czocha castle, in which he used, among others, original stonework from Świecie castle. To some extent, however, Gütschow contributed to the partial 'revival' of the ruins by organising a small inn in the manor house.
THE CASTLE ON OLD GERMAN POSTCARDS
he castle suffered no damage during the Second World War and the eastern part of the manor house was still habitable. Only later, under the administration of state institutions, did it fall into neglect and gradually deteriorate over time. In 2002, the ruin passed into private hands and since then work has been carried out to revitalise it.
CASTLE COURTYARD IN 2004 (PHOTO ABOVE) AND IN 2022
he castle has a plan similar to an oval, corresponding to the shape of the hill on which it was built. Its bulk is dominated by a four-storey stone residential tower measuring 27 metres in length and 11 metres in width, with a small irregular courtyard in the eastern part. The two lower storeys of the tower had barrel vaults, while the rooms above were covered with wooden ceilings. Light access to the interiors was provided by windows of varying proportions: rectangular and pointed.
RESIDENTIAL TOWER, VIEW FROM THE NORTH
INSIDE THE TOWER, THE NEGATIVES OF THE CEILING BEAMS ARE CLEARLY VISIBLE
he castle was surrounded by a wall, which in the northern part had (since the 16th century) a small artillery bastion. This wall closed the outer courtyard, in the north-eastern part of which a masonry building (residential, outbuilding?) attached to a chapel and octagonal turret was erected in the early 18th century. Access to the stronghold was restricted to the north by a moat and to the south by a steep rock and a stream flowing underneath.
VIEW OF THE RUINS FROM THE WEST, M. CHOROWSKA "REZYDENCJE ŚREDNIOWIECZNE NA ŚLĄSKU"
NORTHERN WALL, PARTIALLY RECONSTRUCTED
n the 18th century, a Baroque manor house was erected to the east of the tower - perhaps using parts of an older chapel. It was a basement, two-storey building with a terrace to the south. It had large, symmetrically placed windows, decorative rustication and a gabled roof. The manor house was the longest-used part of the castle grounds - even in the 1960s it still served as flats for the workers of the local kolkhoz.
PLAN OF THE CASTLE: 1. RESIDENTIAL TOWER, 2. SOUTH COURTYARD, 3. OUTER COURTYARD,
4. INN, 5. CHAPEL / OCTAGONAL TURRET, 6. BAROQUE MANOR HOUSE
espite the considerable decomposition of the ruins, the layout of the medieval stronghold can be easily discerned. This is because an excellent part of the Gothic perimeter walls and the residential tower have survived. The ruined manor house, chapel and outbuildings have also remained. The castle was unattended and until the end of the 20th century - now private owners, using traditional building methods, are trying to save it from further degradation.
THE OUTBUILDING IS BEING RECONSTRUCTED VIRTUALLY FROM SCRATCH
IN THE CHAPEL
Admission paid (2 € in 2022), but opening hours irregular.
We visit the tower ruin, the manor cellars and the chapel. It will take us about 15-30 minutes.
Entry with a dog must be agreed with the owners.
The ruin is not adapted for visitors with physical disabilities (see photos).
he castle is situated just by the road no. 358, about 4 km south of the town of Leśna. Intercity buses run through the village - the bus stop is located near the ruins.
You can park your car on the road, in front of the gate.
1. M. Chorowska: Rezydencje średniowieczne na Śląsku, OFPWW 2003
2. I. T. Kaczyńscy: Zamki w Polsce południowej, Muza SA 1999
3. L. Kajzer, J. Salm, S. Kołodziejski: Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Arkady 2001
4. R. Łuczyński: Zamki, dwory i pałace w Sudetach, Wspólnota Akademicka 2008
5. M. Perzyński: Dolnośląskie zamki, dwory i pałace, Wrocławski Dom Wydawniczy 2012
6. M. Świeży: Zamki, twierdze, warownie, Foto Art 2002
7. A. Wagner: Murowane budowle obronne w Polsce X-XVIIw., Bellona 2019
Castles nearby: Leśna - Czocha Castle form the 13th/14th century, 6 km Zapusta - Rajsko Castle from the 13th century, reconstructed, 11 km Proszówka - ruins of Gryf Castle from the 13th century, 16 km Rząsiny - relics of Podskale Castle from the 13th century, 24 km Stara Kamienica - ruins of a knight's castle from the 16th century, 29 km Gościszów - ruins of a 13th-century ducal castle, 31 km Radłówka - Renaissance castle ruin from the 16th century, 33 km
Płakowice - Renaissance castle from the 16th century, 35 km Rakowice Wielkie - two residential towers dating from the 15th/16th century, 36 km Rybnica - Gothic castle ruins from the 14th century, 36 km Wleń - ruins of a ducal castle from the 12th/13th century, 39 km Siedlęcin - Gothic residential tower from the 14th century, 40 km