Castle ruins, Chęciny
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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A royal castle originating from the turn of 13th and 14th century, one of the first brick and stone defensive structures in Lesser Poland and at the same time one of the most recognisable and most frequently visited monuments of the Świętokrzyskie voivodeship.

Location and description

The castle is located approximately 15 km south-east from Kielce, on a rocky hill - Zamkowa Góra, belonging to the chain of hills Wzgórza Chęcińskie, to the south from Chęciny. The layout of the castle clearly demonstrates separation into two parts: eastern one — the lower castle, and western one — the upper castle, both on a plan of elongated polygons. The upper castle is comprised of peripheral walls, two cylindrical towers flanking them from east and west, remains of a foregate, gate, and a two-storey building, as well as remains of a rectangular building by the northern wall. In the lower castle, peripheral walls, quadrangular tower, and remains of the gate building have been preserved.

History

The castle was probably built on the turn of 13th and 14th century, under the rule of Wenceslaus II, as a military centre and watchtower of the mining centre in construction, but first of all as a clear indication of monarchical authority. The first mention comes from 1306, when Władysław the Short promised to donate "castrum Chancin" along with subordinate villages to the chapter of Cracow. In 1308, there was a mention of a duke's starost of Chęciny, Wrocław, addressed in the document as castellan. In 1318, archbishop of Gniezno Janisław, due to dangers stemming from the war with the Teutonic Order, placed the treasury of the Gniezno cathedral here. In 1331, a summit of masters of Lesser Poland and Greater Poland, convened by Władysław the Short, was held. In that time, the castle was comprised of peripheral walls, flanked from the east and the west by two round towers and a building advancing over the eastern tower as avant-corps (the later treasury). The entrance was through the gate from the east. In the early 14th century, a rectangular residential building was erected by the northern wall. In that century, a foregate was created over which, no later than at the turn of 14th and 15th century, a chapel was built, and the space between the foregate and the avant-corps buildings was also developed.  In the 15th century, the lower castle was constructed with peripheral walls and a corner, quadrangular tower in its north-western part. In the upper castle, a kitchen was built, the towers were extended upwards with brick, and the gate section was modernised. From that time, the upper castle served residential purposes. In times of the Casimir the Great, income of the starostry of Chęciny became endowment of royal wives and widows. In times of Jagiełło, the castle was probable also a detention place for political prisoners and the headquarters of the starost of Chęciny, acting also as the mine administrator of Chęciny, and a place of stationing of soldiers. In 1410 and 1421, significant bequests on the castle and property of Chęciny was obtained by Piotr Szafraniec. It seems that the Szafraniec family had a substantial influence on the operation of the castle until the mid-16th century, as they held the position of starost for long periods of time. In that time, the castle was also headquarters of a court and a municipal chancellery.In years 1569-76, restoration works were carried out which, however, did not change the architecture of the castle. After the fire in 1607 which was related to the rebellion by Mikołaj Zebrzydowski, the castle was reconstructed in the Renaissance style by starost of Chęciny Stanisław Branicki. The Branicki family held this position until 1663. After the invasion of Swedes in 1655 and Rákóczi's army in 1657, the castle started to dilapidate. In 1707, it was destroyed once again by Swedes.  For some time, there was still the municipal court and chancellery here. Finally, in the 18th century, the castle was abandoned. In the 2nd half of the 19th century, restoration works were carried out. In winter 1914-15, the upper part of the central tower and part of peripheral walls at the eastern section were destroyed. After 1945, the eastern and central tower were reconstructed, and in years 1959-60 - also the wall.

Condition and results of archaeological research

First archaeological examinations were conducted in years 1959-61 by Bohdan Guerqin and Jerzy Rozpędowski. In 1968, small works in the lower castle were directed by Maria Rogińska. Also there, short examinations in 1974 were carried out. In years 1996-99, works in the upper and lower castle were carried out by Czesław Hadamik and Waldemar Gliński, with participation of Stanisław Kołodziejski. Further works, in 2007, were conducted by Czesław Hadamik. In 2013-14, Waldemar Gliński headed studies whose still unpublished results thoroughly change the picture of the castle. Discovery of a free-standing tower in the highest point of the hill allows an entirely different reconstruction of the 1st stage of the structure's life cycle, examinations of the lower castle enable to change its chronology, and discovery of a two-room building with a hypocaust furnace next to the western tower of the upper castle enables different reconstruction of this part of the complex. In the light of this research, it is also necessary to consider at what stage the so-called "Grand House" was created — in times of the Casimir the Great or Jagiellonians.

The historic building is accessible to visitors.

Compiled by Nina Glińska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland Kielce, 18.11.2014.

Bibliography

  • Architektura gotycka w Polsce, Mroczko T., Arszyński M. (ed.), t.2: Katalog Zabytków, Włodarek A. (ed.), Warszawa, pp.45,303.
  • Butent-Stefaniak B., Baran E., Monety z zamku w Chęcinach w zbiorach gabinetu numizmatyczno-sfragistycznego Ossolineum, [in:] „Czasopismo Zakładu Narodowego Imienia Ossolińskich”, fasc.10, 1999, pp.187-189.
  • Bielecki W., Koncepcja kompleksowego zagospodarowania Wzgórza Zamkowego w Chęcinach, Kielce 2008.
  • Czapczyńska D., Janczykowski J., Gotycki zamek w Chęcinach, „Teka Komisji Urbanistyki i Architektury”, 1985, vol.XIX, pp.221-229.
  • Gliński W., Zamek królewski w Chęcinach. Rozwarstwienie chronologiczne bramy wschodniej zamku górnego, mps Kielce 1998.
  • Gliński W., Program badań archeologicznych zamku w Chęcinach w ramach projektu: „Zamek Królewski w Chęcinach historycznym miejscem mocy Ziemi Świętokrzyskiej - kompleksowe zagospodarowanie Wzgórza Zamkowego i organizacja ponadregionalnego wydarzenia Oblężenie Chęcińskiej Warowni”, Kielce 2012, mps w archiwum WUOZ Kielce.
  • Gliński W., Wstępne sprawozdanie z badań archeologicznych na zamku w Chęcinach w ramach realizacji inwestycji: „Zamek Królewski w Chęcinach historycznym miejscem mocy Ziemi Świętokrzyskiej - kompleksowe zagospodarowanie Wzgórza Zamkowego i organizacja ponadregionalnego wydarzenia Oblężenie Chęcińskiej Warowni, Kielce 2014, mps w archiwum WUOZ Kielce.
  • Gliński W., Hadamik Cz., Zamek królewski w Chęcinach - zarys problematyki badawczej i konserwatorskiej. Próba periodyzacji funkcjonalno-przestrzennej obiektu, [in:] Zamki i przestrzeń społeczna w Europie Środkowej i Wschodniej, Antoniewicz M. (ed.), Warszawa 2002, pp. 374-390.
  • Guerquin B., Fazy rozwoju zamku w Chęcinach, [in:] Uniwersytet Warszawski i Politechnika Warszawska. Zespół Badań nad Polskim Średniowieczem. II konwencja naukowa w Warszawie 28 i 29 kwietnia 1961. Referaty i dyskusje, Warszawa 1963, pp. 72-73.
  • Guerquin B., Zamki w Polsce, Warszawa1984, pp. 121-123.    
  • Hadamik Cz., Zamek królewski w Chęcinach: archeologiczne przesłanki do kwestii jego genezy i pierwotnej funkcji, [in:] Późnośredniowieczne zamki na terenie dawnego województwa sandomierskiego, Kielce 2005, pp. 145-170.
  • Hadamik Cz., Archeologia o zamku w Chęcinach, [in:] Chęciny na starej fotografii. Szkice z dziejów miasta, Kalina D. (ed.), Kielce-Chęciny 2008, pp. 53-80.
  • Hadamik Cz., Hadamik K., Fazy rozwoju przestrzennego zamku królewskiego w Chęcinanch (od końca XIII do połowy XVII wieku), [in:] Stala K. (ed.) III Forum architecturae Poloniae medievalis, Kraków 2013, pp. 74-83.
  • Hadamik Cz., Mirowski R., Studium historyczno-urbanistyczne rozwoju przestrzennego zamku dolnego w Chęcinach z propozycjami wytycznych konserwatorskich rewitalizacji obiektu, mps Kielce 2005.
  • Kajzer L., Kołodziejski S., Salm J., Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Warszawa 2001, pp. 123-128.
  • Kalina D., Dzieje Chęcin, Chęciny 2009.

General information

  • Type: castle
  • Chronology: koniec XIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Chęciny
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district kielecki, commune Chęciny - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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