Castles & Palaces

Neglected during the times of the People's Republic of Poland, over the last several years' Polish castles and palaces have began to regain their former glory. The former residences of the powerful families are being converted in original period hotels.

In contrast to the large modern anonymous hotels, the palaces are buildings with soul and really passionate owners. It is enough to just look into the knight's castle in Krag in Pomerania, Paszkowki Palace near Krakow or the baroque palace in Lomnica which is part of the unique, on a European scale, valley of palaces and gardens in the Zielona Gora Valley.

For those, who are seeking a more harsher environment, those borne out of historical tales, should look closer at the trail of the Teutonic Knights with its giant Gothic structures in Kwidzyn, Swiecie, Golub-Dobrzyn and, of course, Malbork. To Renaissance enthusiasts, who already know Wawel Castle like the back of their hand, it is worth recommending its smaller relative, the castle in Brzeg, the former residence of the Piast dynasty in Silesia.

All castles and palaces have their patrons, even supernatural ones. In the largest fortress in Lower Silesia, Castle Ksiaz, the legend of the beautiful Princess Daisy and her missing pearl necklace is kept alive. Another beauty, Maria Countess Walewska, is a patron of the palace in Walewice where her son was born, who was a result of her relationship with Napoleon. A ghost of a horse supposedly haunts the Castle in Checiny and an Inca princess wanders the courtyard of the fortress in Niedzica. Pszczyna is one of only five Polish palaces that have retained their original features, the others being Kornik, KozlowkaLancut and Wilanow. The only thing that has remained of the largest Polish castle of Krzyztopor in Ujazd was its shell and legends about the marble troughs in its stables. From the dozen or so impressive Piast strongholds along the Jura's Eagle's Nest Trail, only the one on "Pieskowa Skala" has survived in its original form.

The chivalry culture flourishes in Polish castles as tournaments and balls are organised in the original costumes of the era and some of the sites also try to recreate cultural events of the region. A Chopin Festival is regularly organised at the hunting palace of the Radziwill family in Antonin and a gallery that promotes young contemporary artists has been opened in the former conservatory of the palace in Staniszow, the one time residence of the Reuss Princes.

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