And again we set off for an afternoon trip after work on the Eagles’ Nests Trail. The weather was good, and even a little too good, because the degrees on the thermometer was far too much. Our goal was to capture 4 castles: in Bobolice, Mirow, Zloty Potok and Olsztyn. We were supposed also to visit the castle in Siewierz, but during the week it is available for sightseeing only until 3 p.m.
Krakow’s near land is exceptionally rich in old monuments of secular architecture. Everywhere there are scattered the ruins of former defensive castles or ruins of the once magnificent habitats of Polish noblemen. Such are the ruins located in Mirów, which are quite characteristic and greatly contribute to the decoration of the otherwise sad local area. The hand of time, and even more human carelessness, helped to destroy it and today bare walls and remnants of the tower are the only remnants of a once-great castle.
Castle in Mirow – Silesian Kaer Morhen
With some adventures around 5 p.m., we reached the first of the goals – the castle in Mirow. One of the oldest castles on the Eagles’ Nests Trail, was built in the times of Casimir III of Poland, around the middle of the 14th century, although probably earlier there were wooden and earth buildings in this place. Initially, the fortress was made up of a stone watchtower subordinated to the nearby castle in Bobolice. The current owners of the castle, the Lasecki family, are renovating it to house a museum in the reconstructed walls – we are keeping our fingers crossed so that it would be as soon as possible because unfortunately the castle is closed to visitors for the time of renovation works. Partially ruined, with wooden scaffolding, it looked as if it was a model on the basis of which the creators of The Witcher 3 game created Kaer Morhen.
Castle stories about the unfortunate Krystyn III from Mirow
There are always some stories connected with each castle. The castle in Mirów is no exception. Krystyn III was the first to speak about himself “from Mirow”. He owned the castle for only 2 years and within 5 years he lost almost all his property and his family lost their importance. Krystyn was approaching his father’s debts and sureties very honorably and when a man named Ivan from Obiechów refused to pay the debt, guaranteed by Krystyn’s father, he paid all the debts. Krystyn did not make happy decisions in his life, changed his faith into Hussitism and engaged in the fight with the powerful Bishop Olesnick. Soon afterward, he regretted his decision or was forced to do so, and in order to blur his guilt, he set off on a crusade against the infidels together with polish king Władysław III Warneńczyk. For his merits at the beginning of the campaign, he received the King’s award. Later he settled in Jaworzniki Wielkie, the only village he had and died there.
Bobolice Castle, controversial reconstruction and “The Queen’s Crown”
Only 2 kilometers away from Mirów there is a castle in Bobolice, also from the 14th century. We had bad luck, because here at the entrance we were stopped by security guards and as it turned out we was no allowed to go inside, because the production of the historic TVP series “Korona Królowej” (Queen’s Crown) was in progress (yes, it is the same TV-series that is now known as “The Crown of Kings”). We were able only to see the castle and the surrounding area from the outside, but security made it clear that we were not welcome and only courtesy of the member of the television crew, we could see more. We would like to thank him very much, and we will see the series for sure. (We saw the TV-series, but unfortunately, we didn’t recognize him, but who knows, maybe it was Casimir).
The castle in Bobolice belongs to the same owners as in Mirów. Despite the lack of plans and sketches, as it looked like before, it was restored and opened to tourists. Before the castle was rebuilt, there was only a residential part of the upper castle with the remains of the tower at the northeastern corner. The ceiling was not preserved at all. In the past, a drawbridge led to the castle over a dry moat, and the walls with battlements surrounded the castle. From the south side of the castle building, adjacent to the second smaller tower with a dome. Below, there is a quadrilateral gate tower defending the pre-castle, which has now been reconstructed together with the perimeter wall. The reconstruction itself aroused controversy among conservators and history lovers. Although it must be admitted that the castle itself looks very picturesque.
Two brothers, Mir and Bobol
Both castles, in Bobolice and Mirów, have their own ghost. After all, a castle in which no one is scaring is not a real castle! According to legend, the castles were ruled by two brothers – Mir and Bobol. They had a very strong fraternal bond until a woman appeared because where the devil can’t do anything, there is a woman he sends. The younger Mir, while Bobol was absent, seduced his beloved, whom Bobol jealously hid from the whole world in the basement of the castle. She was guarded by a nasty witch and her dog, which resembled the devil. At night, however, the witch was flying on a sabbath, leaving only the dog to guard. An occasion makes a thief, so Mir took the opportunity to seduce his brother’s sweetie. Angry and jealous, Bobol killed his brother, and as soon as he pierced his heart with a sword, lightning fell from the sky and struck him to death for fratricide. It is said that even now the girl is still wandering around the tower when a witch flies to the sabbath party.
Ostreznik Castle in the Zloty Potok (Golden Creek)
We headed further to the Ostrężnik castle in Złoty Potok, which was also located on the Eagles’ Nests Trail. Situated on a hill, where the Ostrężnik’s Cave is located, a completely ruined and mysterious object, about which nothing is really known. Neither who built it, nor why it fell into ruin. There are many hypotheses, but none of them is confirmed by historical records. Local legends say that the castle was the seat of robbers for a long time and their booty was buried in the basement. The division resulted in a quarrel and the robbers murdered each other. Other legends tell about the secret prison in Ostrężnik, where many magnates were illegally held and their bones are still underground. Some say that after dark you can see a white phantom passing from the upper castle to the cave in Ostrężnik. Separate legends are connected with the cave. One of them tells of a boy who found a treasure deep in the cave, which no one had found before because the treasure was supposedly guarded by the devil himself. The interior of the cave was then surrounded by massive gates, which suddenly locked behind the outgoing boy and cut off his heel. The local family of the Piętok is to originate from him. But it’s all just legends…
Olsztyn Castle near Częstochowa
The last destination of our trip was the royal castle in Olsztyn near Częstochowa. The first mention of the castle dates back to 1306, when it was erected on the site of a medieval fortress and extended in the middle of the 14th century on the initiative of Casimir III of Poland. In the 16th century, destroyed by the army of Maximilian Habsburg, and then in the 17th century by the Swedish forces, it began to fall into ruin. At the time of its glory, the castle was a true fortress. To this day, a high, 20-metre tower is noticeable, which was used mainly for observation. As there is no entrance to the tower from the outside, it is believed that it could have been accessed from the bridge from the residential part, which together with the two courtyards, formed the upper castle. Between the castles there was a pre-castle, surrounded by a thick wall. Unfortunately, only the ruins of the tower and fragments of the walls have survived to this day.
It was already quite late, we gathered quickly and moved towards the house. That’s how our second trip to the Eagles’ Nests Trail ended. Once again greetings to Klaudiusz, Monika, Magda, Łukasz, Krzysiek and Asia, who went with us!