Castle complex, Liw
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The complex of a former castle of Dukes of Mazovia and the castle ruins represents a valuable example of medieval defensive architecture of the flatland type. The feature played a significant role in the history of Mazovia.

History

The castle was probably erected in the third decade of the 15th century (before 1429) upon the initiative of Janusz I, Duke of Mazovia. The construction was supervised by Niklos, a court builder of the Dukes of Mazovia, also responsible for the construction of the castle in Ciechanów. In the early 16th century, upon order of Duchess Anna, widow of Konrad III the Red, Duke of Mazovia, the castle was expanded by raising the defensive walls. Between 1551 and 1555 the second expansion of the castle probably took place, during which the gate tower was elevated by two storeys. It was accomplished by the queen Bona’s will, who wanted to reinforce her royal authority in Mazovia - a region newly incorporated to the Crown. After the departure of Bona to Italy the castle quickly began to deteriorate. In the late 16th century the lowest storey of the fortified gate tower was altered: the gateway was walled up, leaving only pedestrian openings and a drawbridge. In 1657 the castle was partially destroyed by Swedish troops. The Swedes destroyed the castle again in 1703. The destruction was so far-reaching that nobody tried to repair the structure and the castle fell into ruin. In 1782 a chancellery of the starosty was built on the foundations of the minor house. In 1823 rescue works were carried out in the castle, securing preserved elements of the castle against further devastation. In the years 1943-1944 the Germans conducted renovation works after being convinced by an amateur archaeologist Otto Werpechowski that the place had belonged to Teutonic Knights. After the war conservation works were carried out in the years 1957-1961 and the museum-armoury was organised in the castle complex. The Gothic castle belongs to a group of flatland castles of Dukes of Mazovia and is reminiscent of a residential castle type, particularly popular in the Central Europe at the dusk of the Middle Ages.

Description

The castle is located on the eastern edge of the town, several dozen metres from the built-up area. It is situated on a low, artificial elevation among meadows stretching along the boggy valley of the Liw river, flowing several dozen metres east of the castle. On the western side, several metres from the tower, there is a trace of a stream that used to flow northwards into the Miedziana river - the left tributary of Liwiec. The gatehouse faces west. Remains of defensive walls and a minor house are located south-east of the gatehouse. A reconstructed building of the Chancellery of Liw Starosty adjoins the gatehouse from the south-east. The castle can be accessed by a cobbled street emerging from the former market square of Liw Stary, currently intersected by the Kałuszyn-Węgrów road. Initially, the castle was erected on a rectangular floor plan with a gatehouse protruding ahead of the face of walls. A gatehouse on a rectangular floor plan with buttresses visibly projecting on corners at the front and, partially, an external defensive wall and the ground floor of the minor house on a rectangular floor plan have survived to our times. The body of a fortified tower has four-storeys, is rectangular at the bottom, giving way to an seven-sided plan at the top, with an irregular base. Corners are supported by pronounced, oblique, stepped buttresses. The fortified tower is covered with a pyramid hipped roof, clad with ceramic roof tiles. The foundation and the underpinning with a thickness of over 200 mm is made of cobbles in whole or broken into halves, bound by lime mortar. A layered, flattening arrangement of smaller stones was applied. The wall is made of Gothic bricks with a frog made with fingers, with a use of a regular arrangement of bricks with the Polish bond. External, face layers of the wall contain the so-called opus emplectum. Inside, the wall was chaotically filled with bricks and a smaller amount of stones. Upper parts of the wall contain an arrangement of bricks in the monk bond and, locally, Polish bond. The fortified tower is reinforced with massive, six-stepped buttresses on front corners. A rafter-and-collar roof truss; rafters are mounted on a rafter plates. On the lower storeys of the front façade (west) a blind wall face is made of stone. Above, in a brick wall, there is a rectangular panel with a barred window opening departing slightly to the right from the axis. Over the panel, there are three narrow openings: taller on the sides, lower along the axis. They are remnants of drawbridge levers. The third storey includes a rectangular, segment-headed loophole. Analogous loopholes are found on neighbouring façades. There is a recessed frieze over the loopholes, at the height of three layers of bricks. The fourth storey includes blind walls. Two bottom storeys on the south façade are blind. The third storey has a frieze in the form of a mitre and bricks protruding from the wall face. A rectangular, segment-headed window opening over the frieze. One buttress runs along the facade up to the fourth storey, identical over the entire height, which is a remnant of the defensive wall. The wall of the fourth storey is blind. On the second storey of the north façade there is a rectangular, segment-headed opening. On the third storey, on the left side, there is a wider, rectangular, segment-headed opening, which earlier served as an exit to defensive walls. The east façade on the side of the yard, there are new concrete stairs elevating in two flights. Over the lower platform of the stairs, on the fortified tower’s axis, there is a rectangular entrance door to the first storey; beyond, there is a rectangular transom light and a walled-up pointed-arch outline of the gatehouse opening. On the left, there is a segment-headed, rectangular door opening leading to the stairs to the upper storey. Beyond, on the axis, there is rectangular window opening terminating in a semicircular arch; above it, there is a large, rectangular, barred, segment-headed window located in a rectangular panel. Internal storeys are partitioned by new reinforced concrete ceilings, clad with battens at the bottom and at the top. Communication between storeys takes place by means of wall-thick stairs. On the first storey there are visible supports of vaults, whereas the second storey includes a fireplace.

The structure is open to visitors, during the working hours of the Museum in Liw.

Compiled by Katarzyna Kosior, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw, 20-11-2014.

Bibliography

  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, Tom X Województwo Warszawskie, zeszyt 26 powiat węgrowski, Instytut Sztuki PAN, Warszawa 1964 r.
  • Karta ewidencyjna zabytku architektury i budownictwa tzw Karta Biała, D. Pikula, 1991 r.
  • Atlas Zabytków Architektury w Polsce, H. Faryna-Paszkiewicz, M. Omilanowska, R. Pasieczny, Wydawnictwo naukowe PWN. Warszawa 2003 r.
  • J. Żabicki, Leksykon zabytków architektury Mazowsza i Podlasia, Arkady, Warszawa 2010 r.
  • A. i R. Sypkowie, Zamki i warownie ziemi mazowieckiej, Warszawa 2009 r.
  • Zamki Pałace i Dwory Mazowsza, Samorząd Województwa Mazowieckiego, Wydawnictwo ARX, Warszawa 2004 r.
  • R. Postek, Liw - miasto i zamek, Warszawa 2008 r.

General information

  • Type: castle
  • Chronology: l. 20. XV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Liw
  • Location: Voivodeship mazowieckie, district węgrowski, commune Liw
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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