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Castle (palace) complex - Zabytek.pl


woj. świętokrzyskie, pow. kielecki, gm. Bodzentyn-miasto

An example of magnificent medieval architecture founded by bishops of Cracow in their property in Świętokrzyskie, subject to transformations in Renaissance and Baroque.


The castle complex in Bodzentyn was founded in 14th century as a defensive residence and administration centre for bishops' property; used by bishops of Cracow until 1789, when it became a state property.  Beginnings of the castle should be associated with bishop Florian of Mokrsk, who started, probably in the end of 14th century, to build a brick and stone castle with construction of a tower in the north-eastern corner of a plateau. The tower was adjoined from the east by a one-wing two-storey residential house with a basement. It was probably in the 15th century that the castle was formed as a regular courtyard surrounded by walls, with the palace building at the northern section.  In years 1488-1503, a representative three-storey Grand House was built from the east, founded by archbishop F. Jagiellon. The ground floor on high basements served agricultural purposes, the first floor was for residential, and the second one — representative purposes. In 1504-1524, the northern wing was extended from the east by avant-corps with a chapel. In the 16th century, bishop F. Krasiński converted the castle into an impressive Renaissance residence, building arcaded cloisters from the courtyard, between the corner towers of the Grand House, and then, in times of bishop P. Myszkowski, works were carried out in the interior of the eastern wing, and the northern wing at the section next to the tower underwent reconstruction works (the older parts of the castle were harmonised in terms of architectural style) — completed in 1581. In that time, the Italian architect Jan Balcer worked there. In the 17th century, the castle was transformed into an early modern residence.   In the first place, in the 1st half of the century, in the times of bishops P. Tylicki and M. Szyszkowski, a gate building leading to the courtyard was erected from the south side of the former Grand House, and [agricultural and residential buildings were constructed] in the castle boroughs (wooden Manor House at the western wall). There was also an Italian garden in that time (in the north-eastern part of the area), and a hunting park and gardens at the feet of the castle hill by the river. In the second half of the 17th century the castle underwent further transformations - in the times of bishops A. Trzebicki and J. Małachowski; the person who transformed the medieval-Renaissance castle into a Baroque castle was probably Stanisław Solski. The former castle had lost its defensive features: the old tower was dismantled, part of the shallow moat was filled, and the former Grand House was adjoined by two, also two-storey, wings — a northern wing using the walls of the medieval building and a new, southern wing, encompassing the (converted) gate building. The courtyard was connected with the barmkin with a bridge on pillars and a decorative gate of red sandstone. Over the gate, there was a stone plaque informing about completion of the works in 1691. Axes of the openings were put into order, and the earlier stonework was also replaced. Façades were finished in line with the principles of mature Baroque. In the 18th century, the next owners ordered only necessary renovations and ordering works in the surroundings; it is highly improbable that the intentions of bishop Sołtyk to entrust conversion of the structure to a renown architect, Jakub Fontana, were put into effect. In 1789, bishops' property was secularised and the residence in Bodzentyn became property of the Treasury of the Republic of Poland. After 1791, the castle (already neglected to a large extent at that time) was converted into a granary, and then used by Austrian authorities as a field hospital. From 1815 on, it became virtually abandoned and unused, gradually dilapidating. However, until mid-19th century, it was still partly inhabited. During the second half of the 19th century, weakened walls collapsed in many places, and the ruins became a source of material for local dwellers; agricultural structures at the courtyard and walls with the fortified tower were totally annihilated.  In 1911, a government commission covered the remains of the castle by a protection measures, and after the World War I, the site was put into order, partially maintained and made available for people. Nevertheless, this does not stopped the advancing destruction and degradation of walls, which is still the case today. The site is owned by the State Treasury, but the occasional, emergency repairs and cleaning are carried out by the commune authorities (currently, efforts are being made to take over the property). In the meantime, in years 1965-1968, comprehensive architectural and archaeological research has been conducted and ended with a project of protection measures which was never put into effect.


The remains of the castle are located in the western part of the town. One time it was a complex adjoining the town from the west and comprised of the proper castle (a horseshoe shaped palace) and a courtyard located to the south of the castle.  On the east, between the church and the castle, there was an Italian garden. The whole complex was surrounded by a defensive walls which were solid and thick on the three "external" sides, and thinner on the side of the town (from the east). It is now a ruin, without roofs and ceilings, without peripheral walls (apart from wall sections on the side of the town and a small fragment on the west) and constituting remains of: - a two-storey south wing with a magnificent gate and remnants of a bridge; an external part of the eastern wing wall, and a fragment of walls of the northern wing (here there are remains of the oldest, corner part of the castle). Most of the existing walls reaches the crownwork of the defensive wall deprived of cornice. The buildings were made of wild stones, sandstone (or sometimes limestone) splits as well as bricks joined with lime mortar: portals and window surrounds are made of sandstone. The site of the proper castle is not fences and is overgrown with grass and cleaned periodically; in the southern part (where one time the castle courtyard and agricultural buildings were located), recreational playgrounds were recently created. To the west and north of the ruins, at the feet of the slope, there are remnants of a landscape park — currently overgrown with luxuriant vegetation (including old-growth trees), on a waterlogged terrain of the system of former ponds. The whole castle is left as unsecured, permanent ruins.

The castle is accessible, but ruins are dangerous to visitors.

Oprac. Dariusz Kalina, 14.12.2014.


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Category: palace

Building material:  kamienne

Protection: Register of monuments

Inspire id: PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_N_26_ZE.21452