he origins of the castle remain unknown. According to a common opinion (mainly propagated by older books), the founder of the fortress might have been
Kazimierz Wielki (Casimir the Great, d. 1370), but neither Jan of Czarnków, who lived in those times, nor Jan Długosz, who lived in the times of the first Jagiellons, mention it among the investments made by this king. Based on more recent archaeological research, there was a wooden castle with earthwork fortifications here as early as the 13th century, possibly belonging to one of the Hungarian or Ruthenian lords. It is believed that at the end of the 13th or at the beginning of the 14th century a stone tower was erected, originally surrounded by wood and earth fortifications and later by a stone wall. The castle came into Poland in the 1340s, probably as a result of the inheritance King Kazimierz received after the death of the Ruthenian prince Bolesław Jurij (d. 1340). The Polish affiliation of these lands during the reign of the last Piast may be confirmed by the name of the castellan or castle leaseholder, who in 1359 was a certain Stefan, son of Wojost from Sobniów village. After 1370 Sobień probably came into Hungarian hands and for some time belonged to
Władysław Opolczyk (d. 1401), the governor of Halich Ruthenia in 1372-78.
IN FRONT OF THE ENTRANCE TO THE RUINS
he castle returned to Polish dominion after
Władysław Jagiełło (d. 1434) became the king. Three years later, he gave it to Piotr Kmita of
Szreniawa coat of arms (d. 1409), the castellan of Lublin, as a reward for his services. From then on Sobień became the family nest of the Kmita family and the center of knightly culture in the whole region. So it must have been a large, well-equipped and fortified castle. It owes this to the reconstruction which took place at the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries and which resulted in the erection of a huge square gate tower on the castle hill and a new residential wing with three large halls on each floor. The rank of the residence was certainly raised by a royal visit in 1417, when Piotr's son, Piotr Lunak Kmita (d. 1430) hosted Władysław Jagiełło and his newly married (although not young) wife
Elżbieta Granowska of Pilcza (d. 1420). Next, the Sanok estate was probably inherited by his brother Jan, then by his sister Małgorzata Kmita Mościsławska and finally by Mikołaj (d. ca 1447), the castellan of Przemyśl. During the reign of Mikołaj or his son Jan Kmita (d. 1460), called Nosek, the castle was modernized again.
CASTLES SOBIEŃ, SANOK AND LESKO ON THE MAP "POLONIAE FINITIMARUMQUE LOCORUM DESCRIPTIO", 1579
ome books state that the castle no longer operated after the invasion of
Hunyadi Mátyás' Hungarian army, which in 1474 plundered the lands belonging to Red Ruthenia as revenge for the destruction caused in Hungary by troops of Polish hetman Paweł Jasieński. However, some historians question the authenticity of these stories as they are not supported by historical documents. The undeniable fact was the Hungarian invasion in 1512, after which Piotr Kmita Sobieński (d. 1553), one of the richest and most influential men in Poland at that time, moved his family seat to the newly built
castle in Lesko. Sobień was abandoned by its owners and soon fell into neglect. In 1523 a deputy starost was mentioned here, but it is possible that already then the castle performed only administrative and auxiliary functions. In 1541, the stronghold and the surrounding lands were given to Piotr's wife, Barbara Kmicina of Herbuty (d. 1580).
WATERCOLOR WITH A RUIN, 1859
fter the death of Barbara Kmicina Sobień became a property of famous troublemaker and brawler
Stanisław Stadnicki coat of arms
Szreniawa bez Krzyża, called the Devil (died 1610), and was in possession of the Stadnicki family until 1713. Then it belonged to the Ossolińscy, Mniszkowscy and Krasiccy (1803-1939). In 1770, the ruined castle was used as a shelter by Polish confederates fighting against Russia. A century later, when a railroad was being built at the eastern foot of the castle hill, a part of the slope slipped, causing the collapse of medieval walls. During the clean-up work after this disaster,
three iron spearheads were discovered, which are most likely a reminder of the battle that was fought here between the mid-14th and late 15th centuries. Some damage was also done to the castle by Austrian artillery when it tried to shell Russian positions from the top of the castle hill in 1914. Archaeological research of the ruins was started before World War II, but it was not carried out on a large scale until the 1960s. Many remains of walls from the second half of the 14th century, as well as later ones, were found then.
he castle was built of sandstone, on a trapezoidal plan, and surrounded by a defensive wall enclosing a large courtyard. In its southeastern part stood a two-story residential building (12x31 meters), divided in the ground floor into three almost identical chambers. On the opposite side of the courtyard, at the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries, a tower (7,1x7,8 m) was erected, which functioned as an entrance gate. The tower that existed here earlier (the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries?) was protruding beyond the line of peripheral walls and was later used as a foregate. The perimeter walls were probably equipped with porches for guards and hoards, as evidenced by the beam holes preserved to this day. The castle was surrounded by earthworks and a palisade, and may have also been protected by small wooden towers.
PLAN OF THE CASTLE RUINS ACCORDING TO T. ŻUROWSKI: 1. GATE TOWER (OLDER), 2. GATE TOWER (NEWER), 3. RESIDENTIAL BUILDING
RELICS OF THE RESIDENTIAL WING IN THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE CASTLE
relics of the residential wing have survived to the present day, preserved up to the height of the second floor, with semi-circular window openings. Next to it
a terrace was built, from where you can enjoy the view of a bend of the San River, Lesko and even the Bieszczady Mountains. The entrance to the castle leads through the gate tower with remains of a stone portal and relatively well-preserved stonework of windows in its lower storey. The ruin is located within the boundaries of "Góra Sobień" natural reserve.
Apparently, although I haven't seen it, inscriptions in Ukrainian have been preserved on the walls of the castle as well as drawings depicting the Ukrainian coat of arms -
tryzub. They were made by partisans of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, who stayed here on the night of May 9-10, 1946 before the attack on the armored train that protected the railroad route between Załuż and Olszanica.
IN THE CASTLE RUINS
Free admission to the reserve and to the castle ruins. The facility is available 24 hours a day.
The castle can be visited in the company of a dog. The path to the castle leads uphill, and there are steep stairs at the final stage.
The area is located in a temporarily reserved zone as a military aviation route. The ability to fly depends on whether the zone is active. Besides, we are in a reserve and should avoid making noise and frightening the animals. Therefore, flying a drone here is not recommended.
VIEWING TERRACE IN THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE HILL WITH A BEAUTIFUL VIEW OF THE BIESZCZADY FOOTHILLS
he castle ruins are located on a high hill (451 m asl), currently belonging to the village of Manasterzec, although in popular opinion they are part of the village of Załuż. If you are driving from Sanok by road 28 (direction Przemyśl), you should turn right in Załuż into local road in direction Lesko. From there, it is about 2.5 kilometers to the ruins. The nearest railroad station is located in Lesko Łukawica (3 km).
There is a free
parking lot nearby, from which a not too difficult
unpaved road leads to the ruins. The final stage of the hike is a steep wooden staircase.
It's best to leave your bike in the parking lot. But if you are afraid of someone stealing your bike, you should be able to carry it to the top of the hill. The only problem might be the stairs.
1. M. Dębiec, S. Jędrzejewska: Średniowieczne zamki województwa podkarpackiego, 2018
2. L. Kajzer, J. Salm, S. Kołodziejski: Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Arkady 2001
3. P. Kocańda: Badania nad pierwszymi murowanymi zamkami..., Archeologie Zapadnich Cech 11/2016
4. R. Liwoch: Groty spod zamku Sobień w Manastercu, Acta Militaria Mediaevalia IX
5. Praca zbiorowa: Rocznik historyczno-archiwalny VII/VIII, 1994
6. A. Wagner: Murowane budowle obronne w Polsce X-XVIIw., Bellona 2019
ENTERING AND LEAVING THE CASTLE WE PASS THROUGH THE RUINS OF THE GATE TOWER
Lesko - the private castle from 16th century, 7 km Sanok - the royal castle from 14th century, 11 km Zagórz - ruins of the monastery of the Discalced Carmelites from 16th century, 15 km