The Lenno castle (Laehnhaus), Łupki
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The Lenno castle (Laehnhaus)

Łupki

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One of the oldest and most fascinating castles in Poland, in a state of permanent ruin from the mid-17th century. Despite the passage of time, the functional layout of this medieval magnate’s residence remains clear even today, with its distinctive tower and the peripheral walls and remnants of buildings clustered around the inner courtyard. The castle makes a perfect use of the shape and defensive features of the surrounding terrain.

History

Erected on the site of an earlier hillfort (a local castellany most likely established by Bolesław the Wrymouth somewhere around the year 1108, it was first mentioned in the papal bull issued by pope Hadrian IV in 1155. The oldest fragments of the castle date back to the fourth quarter of the 12th century and the first quarter of the 13th century; they are usually associated with duke Bolesław I the Tall or Henry I the Bearded. The castle was erected in six distinct phases during which the individual structures gradually came into being. During the Romanesque period (the first three phases), dated at the second half of the 12th century - first half of the 13th century, a magnate’s residence, a chapel and two towers of the upper castle were built, the latter being positioned at the northern and southern edges thereof. The castle served as a residence only sporadically, however, being inhabited mostly by burgraves - Konrad von Zedlitz, the marshal of the court of Henry I as well as his sons (with the castle being part of hereditary fiefdom at the time); Nickel Bolcze, the ducal house-master (magister curiae, ochmistrz) and Tymon von Kolditz, the chamberlain to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV and the alderman of Wrocław. Later on, the castle remained in the hands of the knights from the von Redern and von Zedlitz families. In years 1377-91, a wall was erected south of the castle, resulting in the entire defensive enclosure being enlarged. The southern tower was partially demolished and incorporated into the walls, while a new residential building was also added. All this took place during the fourth phase of the castle’s existence, also known as the Gothic phase. It is believed that the defensive walls of the middle castle on the northern side of the complex were erected during the same period. In the second half of 14th century (most likely after 1465), a tall, cylindrical tower was erected not far from the older one, which had been partially torn down some time earlier. It is possible that the fortifications of the lower castle were also completed at that point, featuring a number of semi-circular fortified towers or roundels (fifth, Gothic phase). In 1567, at the initiative of the Imperial commissioner Sebastian von Zedlitz, the dilapidating castle was redesigned, based on the plans produced by Jerzy Włoch (George „der Wahlich”). Some of the walls were substantially modified, with the southern tower being extended upwards. The roofs of the castle were also replaced. The peripheral walls were now adorned with decorative attics, while the problem of water supply was dealt with once and for all through the installation of a water pipe. During the Thirty Years’ War, the castle was unsuccessfully besieged by the Swedish forces in 1640. Thanks to their large numbers and an adequate amount of supplies, the defenders of the castle were able to prevail. It was only in 1645 that the Swedish general Koenigsmark forced the Imperial soldiers to surrender by subjecting the castle to a sustained artillery barrage. On 06.09.1646, the Imperial forces led by general Montecucoli captured the castle and then set it on fire. The building materials obtained from the ruins of the castle was used in the course of construction of various other structures, including the palace located south of the castle (1653-63). Meanwhile, the castle was becoming a local tourist attraction as early as in the late 18th/early 19th century, having been visited both by John Quincy Adams who was travelling around Silesia at the time (year 1800) as well as by the heir to the throne of Prussia - the future Emperor William I and his wife, accompanied by prince Antoni Radziwiłł and his family (1824). Towards the end of the 19th century, at the initiative of Wilhelm von Haugwitz, the castle grounds were swept clean of debris and rubble, while the tower was converted into an observation platform, accessible by means of a new staircase. In years 1936-37, further maintenance works were perform in order to prevent further damage to the walls of the tower. The castle ruins underwent conservation works in years 1955-56, although even then the condition of the entire structure was slowly deteriorating. It was only in 2005 that comprehensive restoration works were conducted on the site. In addition, archaeological and architectural surveys have been underway on the site since 1988.

Description

The ruins of the mountain castle, designed on an irregular plan and rising from the summit of the diabase Castle Hill (Góra Zamkowa) are located on the eastern side of the Bóbr river valley, near the town of Wleń. The complex, located at the elevation of 384 metres above sea level, features an elongated layout, with the main axis of the castle running from the north to the south. The oldest part of the structure - the upper castle - is located on a rocky plateau with a promontory projecting towards the south. This part of the castle is enclosed by tall peripheral walls exceeding 10 metres in height and incorporating the remnants of the oldest, hexagonal tower located at the southern edge of the complex. East of the roughly triangular courtyard lie the earliest parts of the complex: the quadrangular residential building made of irregular stone blocks and featuring traces of a hypocaust heating installation (the former palas) and the chapel with an apse, accompanied by more recent structures towards the south, including the so-called Kinderstube. On the opposite side, the remnants of a two-storey Gothic palace are positioned alongside the eastern section of the wall. There is also a fortified residential tower designed on a square floor plan, positioned in the north-eastern corner of the upper castle, near the gate (today, this structure is rather difficult to make out in the surrounding terrain) as well as the monumental, cylindrical tower (keep) in the southern corner of the castle, its walls reaching the height of 14 metres. The middle castle, positioned in the northern part of the complex, lower than the upper castle, is an area where relatively few site surveys have been performed so far. The middle castle is linked to the upper castle by means of a steep ramp or stairway, leading alongside the nearby cliff. The middle castle is surrounded by a defensive wall; in the northern corner of the wall there is a fortified tower or roundel, positioned next to the gate leading into the lower castle. The site of the lower castle is enclosed from three sides by barely visible traces of perimeter walls punctuated by an irregular arrangement of semi-circular roundels, two of which (preserved only in fragments) had originally flanked the relatively small main gate located in the short, northern section of the fortifications. Remnants of the monument to Fryderyk Gothard von Gruenfeld (1804), the owner of the surrounding estate who eventually died without heirs, can still be seen in the courtyard of the lower castle. The author of the monument was the sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow.

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, 25-06-2015.

Bibliography

  • Łuczyński R., Zamki, dwory i pałace w Sudetach, Legnica 2008, pp. 406-413.
  • Słownik Geografii Turystycznej Sudetów. Vol. 2 Pogórze Izerskie, Vol. II, M. Staff (ed.), Wrocław 2003, pp. 425-430,
  • Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, Warsaw 2006, pp. 546-547.
  • Zamki i dwory obronne w Sudetach, Vol. II Księstwo jaworskie, Wrocław 2009, pp. 235-256.

General information

  • Type: castle
  • Chronology: 4 ćw. XII i 1 ćw. XIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Łupki
  • Location: Voivodeship dolnośląskie, district lwówecki, commune Wleń - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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