The Bolczów (Bolzenschloss) castle, Janowice Wielkie
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The Bolczów (Bolzenschloss) castle

Janowice Wielkie

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One of the most picturesque and unique mountain castles in the Sudety mountains, in a state of permanent ruin since the 17th century. This relatively small complex designed on an extremely irregular plan retains a clear functional layout with its peripheral walls, courtyards as well as stone stairs and passages connecting the individual parts of the structure. The castle makes a perfect use of the shape and defensive features of the surrounding terrain, which has also contributed to its popularity as a scenic viewpoint from the first half of the 19th century onwards.

History

Erected most likely in the years 1371-86, the castle was first mentioned in written sources in 1375 as the property of a knight known as Clericus Bolze, a burgrave from the nearby Sokolec castle with links to the court of the dukes of Świdnica. Having been overrun by the Hussites, the castle was besieged and destroyed by the armies gathered by the town of Świdnica in 1433. Having been reconstructed by Hans Dippold von Burghaus in 1517-18, the castle changed ownership on several occasions throughout the first half of the 16th century. In years 1537-43, the owner of the castle was Justus Decjusz, the secretary of the king Sigismund I the Old, whose other occupations were those of a financier and mint facility administrator. While investing in the mining facilities in Miedzianka, he also acquired the Bolczów castle, ordering extension works to be performed which resulted in the castle being redesigned in the Renaissance style. The castle also provided protection to the Miedzianka mining facilities. During the Thirty Years’ War, the castle served as a safe haven for the local population; in the end, however, the castle was overrun by the Swedish forces led by general Torstensohn on two occasions in 1645; on December 6 of the same year, the Swedes, forced to retreat, have decided to set the castle on fire. The resulting blaze swept across the entire castle, which has never been rebuilt. In years 1837 and 1848, the ruins were cleared from the rubble and partially restored at the initiative of count von Stolberg-Wernigerode from Janowice, who saw the castle’s growing popularity with tourists. Towards the end of the 19th century, a small tourist hostel and tavern was erected alongside the wall which closes off the courtyard of the upper castle; somewhat misleadingly, these amenities were being advertised as being located in the former Knights’ Hall. Further works intended to secure the edifice against further damage were also performed. During the early 20th century, the gatehouse was adapted to serve as a youth hostel.

After 1945, the hostel and tavern were abandoned, while the condition of the castle itself, left without any supervision, has worsened significantly. In 1965, the self-sown vegetation was removed and the site was cleared from debris. The top section of the walls was likewise cleared from the rubble, with a new bridge and gate being added during the same period.

Description

The ruins of the mountain castle, built on an irregular plan, are situated on the north-western edge of the Zamkowy Grzbiet (Castle Ridge) mountain in Rudawy Janowickie, above the Bóbr river valley, about 2 kilometres south of the Janowice Wielkie village. The complex, situated at the elevation of 550-561 metres above sea level, features an extremely irregular plan, occupying a triangular rock plateau with sides measuring approx. 50 metres, with two of its edges forming lines of precipitous rocks. The oldest, northern part of the complex - the upper castle - consists of a rectangular tower and a residential building which can be reached by following a flight of steps hewn inside a rock crevice. A wall connecting the rocks was erected, forming a relatively regular, pentagonal courtyard, in the middle of which a rainwater cistern was hewn in the bedrock. Utility buildings were located on the eastern side of the courtyard. Following the ravages of the Hussite Wars, the castle was extended, with a long, curvilinear curtain wall being added in the south-west, while another wall was erected towards the east and the south between the rock formations, thereby closing the defensive perimeter. An entrance gate and quadrangular gatehouse were placed on the spot where both walls meet, thus forming the southern corner of the entire complex. The effect of this arrangement was that a new, lower courtyard was formed. A number of utility buildings were erected there, although today only vestigial traces of those can be seen there. In the 1st half of the 16th century, the castle was adapted to the use of firearms in the course of the Renaissance redesign effort. It is in those times that the horseshoe-shaped barbican was erected, as was the roundel located east of the barbican and mirroring its shape. Both of these structures are surrounded by a dry moat with a bridge, located south of the castle. All of the new defensive structures came equipped with embrasures. The ruins of the tavern building in the upper castle date back to the late 19th century.

The castle is open to the public and forms part of a designated tourist trail.

compiled by Piotr Roczek, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Wrocław, 23-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Słownik Geografii Turystycznej Sudetów. T. 2 Pogórze Izerskie, Vol. 2, M. Staff (ed.), Wrocław 2003, pp. 270-273.
  • Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, Warsaw 2006, pp. 317-318.
  • Zamki i dwory obronne w Sudetach, Vol. II Księstwo jaworskie, Wrocław 2009, pp. 21-30.
  • Łuczyński R., Zamki, dwory i pałace w Sudetach, Legnica 2008, pp. 20-25,

General information

  • Type: castle
  • Chronology: 2 poł. XIV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Janowice Wielkie
  • Location: Voivodeship dolnośląskie, district jeleniogórski, commune Janowice Wielkie
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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