Castle complex, Ćmielów
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The castle is an example of a residential and defensive structure of the 16th century, built on river lowlands. Its construction is associated with Krzysztof Szydłowiecki, Great Chancellor of the Crown, who commissioned its construction or its major extension.


The castle was built at the initiative of Krzysztof Szydłowiecki in years 1519-1531 on waterlogged terrains of the valley of the river Kamienna, within a small distance from the chartered town, Ćmielów. It is suspected that remains of a medieval defensive complex might be used for its construction. The castle complex is comprised of a palace on an island, and castle grounds to the south. The palace included two small rectangular buildings and a chapel (from the north) — framing a small courtyard which could be enclosed by walls from the south. The outer castle came into being as a result of extension of the earlier, smaller defensive complex, which is evidenced by some differences in style of individual parts of the building (with both Gothic and Renaissance features). Probably, the original gatehouse and defensive walls were converted and extended in the early 16th century; a rectangular courtyard was formed, accessible through the gate passage. The castle became then a representative residence of the Szydłowiecki family, and was described with admiration by later chroniclers.  As of the 2nd half of the 16th century, as a result of inheritance and family transactions, the site along with the castle went through the hands of subsequent magnate families - Tarnowski, Ostrogski; in the 17th century Wiśniowiecki, Sanguszko, in the 18th century Małachowski, and in the 1st half of the 19th century Drucki-Lubecki. Probably in the first half of the 17th century, the castle was provided with early modern fortifications in the form of ramparts with bastions in the corners; the wall of the outer castle was included into the line of the southern rampart. Damages of wars did not spare the castle — in 1657, after it was overrun and robbed by Swedes, and in 1702 during the Northern War, when major parts of defensive walls and castle were destroyed, which was followed by partial dismantling. In the 2nd half of the 18th century, the Małachowski family, the then owners, partially renovated the castle and its chapel, but it did not regain its splendour ever again. It ceased to be a "lordly" residence; it descended into ruin, and new functions started to be introduced to the outer castle, among other things, in 1800 — a brewery, and in 1905 — a bathhouse. In 1912, remains of the castle was bought by Kacper Bargieł whose heirs owned the property until the early 21st century. The Nazis arranged a military hospital in the gatehouse. In the post-war years, buildings of the outer castle were used in various ways for residential and industrial purposes. In 2009, the complex was purchased by a new, private investor, who established the Historical Education Centre Association "Ćmielów Castle", conducted a set of research and pre-conceptual design works, and cleaned the site. In 2012, the works were suspended and the structure was abandoned once again.


Remains of the castle are located in the valley of the river Kamienna, east from the town of Ćmielów. The complex comprises: ruins of the castle and chapel on the island, an outer castle building with gatehouse, and remains of earthy fortifications on a plan of a regular trapezoid close to a rectangle. On the island, next to the rectangular courtyard, there were — from the west: grand house, from the north: Gothic castle chapel comprised of presbytery, nave, and sacristy, from the east, behind the wall: a smaller building with a separate entrance from the outside, intended probably for guests or castle service. The buildings were connected by defensive walls, probably with a gate from the south, and the courtyard was surrounded by cloisters. Ruins of the northern part of the presbytery and the basement section of the east wing were preserved until today; walls of the western part are mostly under the ground level. In the southern area, there was probably the castle garden recorded in the sources, preceding the entryway to the island. The palace was connected with the outer castle by a causeway, currently submerged. The outer castle is preserved in the form of the letter "L", created by two narrow, one-bay wings. In the southern wing there is, in the eastern section, a gatehouse protruding afore the face of the wall, with a passage on the ground level. Traces of historical build-ups and conversions are visible here, and also interesting elements of historical stonework. The original usable level of the ground floor was ca. 1 m below the current one. External fortifications were probably preceded by a moat. Currently the building is ruined and only partially roofed; the external and internal area is boggy and overgrown with grass. The fabric of castle buildings is made of stone bound with limestone mortar, with ashlar corners and stone decoration elements, and locally — also brick; the ceilings, roofs, or carpentry did not survive. Bastion fortifications are incomplete, but their remains are still visible, just asas earthy ramparts and outlines of three bastions.

The historical complex is not accessible — a private property, but clearly visible from outside.

Compiled by Dariusz Kalina, 22.12.2014.


  • Karta ewidencyjna zabytków architektury i budownictwa, „Zamek-ruiny”, compiled by L. Polanowski Sandomierz 1997, mps w archiwum Delegatury Wojewódzkiego Urzędu Ochrony Zabytków w Sandomierzu i Narodowego Instytutu Dziedzictwa w Warszawie.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. III, województwo kieleckie, fasc. 7, powiat opatowski, ed. J. Z. Łoziński, B. Wolff, Warszawa 1959, pp. 12-14.
  • Brykowska M., Fundacje Szydłowieckich - między gotykiem a renesansem, [in:] Fundacje kanclerza Krzysztofa Szydłowieckiego. Z dziejów budownictwa rezydencjonalno-obronnego na terenie dawnego województwa sandomierskiego. Materiały z sesji naukowej w Ćmielowie dnia 5 września 2009 roku, ed. W. Iwańczak, R. Kubicki i D. Kalina, Kielce-Ćmielów 2010, pp. 29-48.
  • Gruszecki A., Bastionowe zamki w Małopolsce, Warszawa 1962, pp. 195-205.
  • Kajzer L., Kołodziejski S., Salm J., Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Warszawa 2001, pp. 101.
  • Kalina D., Zamek w Ćmielowie. Wyniki kwerendy źródłowej, [in:] Fundacje kanclerza Krzysztofa Szydłowieckiego…, pp. 81-108.
  • Kubicki R., Inwentarz miasta Ćmielowa i folwarków w kluczu ćmielowskim z 1618 roku, [in:] Fundacje kanclerza Krzysztofa Szydłowieckiego…, pp. 154-174.
  • Ziółkowska G., Ziółkowski M., Wstępne wyniki archeologicznych badań wykopaliskowych zamku w Ćmielowie (etap I, tzw. przedzamcze), [in:] Fundacje kanclerza Krzysztofa Szydłowieckiego…, pp. 109-114.

General information

  • Type: castle
  • Chronology: 1519-1531 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Ćmielów
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district ostrowiecki, commune Ćmielów - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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