Chojnik Castle (Kynast), Jelenia Góra
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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A mountain castle located on a summit bearing the same name as the castle itself, rising to the height of 627 metres above sea level. The castle has been preserved in an almost perfect condition insofar as the completeness of its layout is concerned. The castle was built in several stages, adapting itself to the changing use and evolving defensive techniques. As a result, its structure is fairly complex and exhibits a number of clearly defined phases. The individual parts of the complex - the upper castle, which served as a knightly residence, the lower castle and the castle grounds - are clearly defined and easily distinguishable to this very day. The castle remains in a state of permanent ruin, with partially reconstructed fragments of some of the buildings as well as the almost perfectly preserved line of the outer peripheral walls.

History

The first mentions of the castle in written sources appear in 1364, with the oldest part of the so-called upper castle having most likely been erected at the initiative of duke Bolko II the Strict in years 1353-64. From 1381 onwards, the castle remained in the hands of a knight known as Gotsche Schoff II. In the second half of 15th century, the castle was extended by his successors, who added a foregate and the so-called lower castle, comprising a number of buildings clustered around a triangular courtyard. The castle chapel, constructed in 1393 above the entrance to the upper castle, was redesigned in the Late Gothic style somewhere around the year 1403. In 1529 or thereabouts, the castle received a second ring of defensive walls. It is also at that point (or perhaps slightly later) that the brick residential and utility buildings of the lower castle were erected, as were the structures located inside the so-called zwinger (the area between two defensive walls) in the vicinity of the castle gate, including the stables and the house for the commander of the guard. In 1560, a cylindrical roundel was added, projecting northwards beyond the outline of the castle. The decorative, curvilinear battlements crowning the castle walls (which have been also extended upwards at the time) as well as the geometric sgraffito decorations are likewise the product of the 16th century. In the years 1588-89, the keep was crowned with a dome. The castle has never been overrun by enemy forces, nor has it suffered damage in the course of the Thirty Years’ War. In 1648, due to the looming military threat, a triangular bastion and curtain wall were erected below the lower castle gate, creating a new foregate with gatehouse which remains in use to this very day. Following a lightning strike, the castle was engulfed by the flames on 31.08.1675 and was partially destroyed, with both the keep and the palace in the upper castle being lost to the blaze. Despite the loss of military importance, during the second half of the 17th century the castle was still maintained by its owners due to the prestige that it entailed, later becoming a crucial destination during the sightseeing trips organised for the visitors to the Cieplice sanatorium. The visits of the members of the Prussian royal family in the late 18th century and in the 19th century have also increased its popularity. In order to cater to the needs of tourists, a tavern was opened inside the castle in 1822, with a new staircase leading up to the tower being opened a year later. In 1860, the interiors of the roundel were redesigned in the Gothic Revival style and adapted to serve as a hostel and museum. The entire complex underwent conservation works in the years 1903-04, 1965-67, 1974-75 and in 1991, when a fragment of a wooden porch leading up to the tower was reconstructed.

Description

The highland castle is perched atop a granite rock at the elevation of 627 metres above sea level, most likely replacing an earlier hunters’ manor house that had existed there before. The building is a masonry structure made of split stone, with the more recent sections being made of brick. The oldest part of the castle - the so-called upper castle - is located in the southern part of the complex. Designed on an elongated quadrilateral plan, it is surrounded by a curtain wall rising to the height of 9-16 metres. In the eastern corner rises a tall, cylindrical keep, the outer portion of its structure being incorporated into the perimeter wall, while in the western part of the courtyard there is a two-storey residential building - the palas (palatium), designed on a rectangular floor plan, its dimensions being 9.6 x 8.5 metres. Above the gate there is a fragment of a pentagonal oriel which had once accommodated the castle chapel of St George and St Catherine; the chapel, occupying the space within the thick castle wall, features a cross-rib vault with a circular keystone incorporating the von Schaffgotsch family crest. Coats of arms of the Schaffgotsch, Spiller and Nimptsch noble families are known to have originally graced the spaces beneath the window sills. A quadrangular foregate from the 1st half of the 15th century can be seen in front of the gate leading into the upper castle; it is linked to the northern courtyard from the second half of the 15th century around which rise the buildings forming the so-called lower castle. The courtyard, designed on an irregular, triangular plan, features two cylindrical open-gorged tower (half-towers) in the northern and the north-eastern corner as well as remnants of residential buildings on the eastern and north-eastern side, including a reconstructed kitchen with a pyramid-shaped chimney; other structures found in the courtyard include the so-called hunger tower (prison tower), a stone pillory as well as rainwater cisterns hewn out of the rock beneath. The upper and lower castle are surrounded by an additional line of perimeter walls, including a round bastion (roundel) projecting visibly towards the north. A low, triangular bastion adjoins the complex to the north-west, forming part of the walls of the 17th-century foregate section which also includes a two-storey gatehouse.

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

  • Architektura gotycka w Polsce, T. Mroczko, M. Arszyński (eds.), vol. 1-3, Warsaw 1995.
  • Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, Warsaw 2006, pp. 363-364.
  • Zamki i dwory obronne w Sudetach, Vol. II Księstwo jaworskie, Wrocław 2009, pp. 41-55.
  • Kapałczyński W., Napierała P., Zamki, pałace i dwory Kotliny Jeleniogórskiej, Jelenia Góra-Wrocław 2005, pp. 37-42.
  • Łuczyński R., Zamki, dwory i pałace w Sudetach, Legnica 2008, pp. 49-58

General information

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

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