The Gryf castle (Greiffenstein) - Zabytek.pl
woj. dolnośląskie, pow. lwówecki, gm. Gryfów Śląski-obszar wiejski
One of the largest and most picturesque castles in the Sudety mountain which remained in use for a very long period of time compared to other sites of its kind. The individual parts of the complex - the upper castle with its distinctive palace in the form of a keep, the middle castle and the lower castle - are clearly defined and easily distinguishable to this very day, bearing the hallmarks of the Renaissance style. Today, the castle remains in a state of permanent ruin, with a substantial part of its defensive walls surviving intact.
The first unequivocal mention of the castle in written sources dates back to 1305, with the oldest part of the upper castle originating most likely from the second half of the 13th century. In the year 1400, the castle remained in the hands of Gotsche Schoff (by way of a pledge), whereas from 1418 onwards it formally became his exclusive property, with his family remaining in possession of the castle right until 1945, with only a few short intervals. During the 15th century, the complex was extended through the addition of the middle castle as well as the lower castle preceded by the foregate, featuring expansive courtyards and a long line of defensive walls which incorporated a number of rock formations projecting from the hillside. In 1546, the upper castle was extended at the initiative of Hans Schaffgotsch; it was at that point that the distinctive palace, designed in the form of a keep, as well as a suite of residential apartments and a kitchen with a tall, massive chimney were built. The parts of the castle added at that point featured a number of design novelties in the form of profiled (fasciated) window surrounds and sgraffito decorations. The lower castle was likewise extended, receiving new crenellated parapets made up of rounded battlements and pierced with embrasures as well as a new roundel and the southern gorge and gateway. Towards the end of 1645, the castle was partially destroyed by artillery barrage and then captured by the Swedish forces which remained there until 1650, with the intervening time being used to make the necessary repairs. Once the Swedes have retreated, the castle was subjected to partial modernisation in 1654 at the initiative of Christoph Leopold von Schaffgotsch; the gatehouse was extended during that period, while the former smithy in the lower castle was replaced by the so-called “chancellery”. In the 18th century, the castle continued to serve as an observation outpost and temporary quarters for the Prussian forces during the Second Silesian War in years 1744-45. In 1745, the castle was plundered by the Austrian army. The complex also saw use during the Third Silesian War in the years 1756-63, suffering no damage as a result of hostilities. The final fortification works were performed in 1778, when palisades and earthen revetments were added. In 1798, Johann Nepomucen Schaffgotsch decided - much to the dismay of the enthusiasts of antiquities and despite their vocal protests - that the dilapidated castle would be deprived of all administrative, military and residential functions and that it would be gradually demolished, with the building materials to be used in the process of construction of new buildings designed for the administration of the surrounding manor and grange which were being erected at the foot of the mountain. Despite all this, the castle quickly became a popular tourist destination, with the former brewery being converted into a guest house. The temporary renovation works performed have slowed down the pace of dilapidation of the castle ruins, which were preserved in a relatively good condition as a result.
The castle is situated at the summit of a steep basalt elevation, at the level of 462 metres above sea level. The oldest masonry structure erected in the south-western part of the site was built using the local black basalt with the addition of slate; it was designed on an elongated pentagonal plan, its dimensions being roughly 33 x 28 metres. This part of the castle did not feature a tower, although in the north-western part thereof there stood the two-storey “Tall House”, a stone structure designed on an elongated rectangular plan (9 x 20 metres), accompanied by the chapel and the kitchen and surrounded by peripheral walls. In the courtyard, a rainwater cistern was hewn out of the bedrock. North of the upper castle lies the irregular, roughly triangular courtyard of the middle castle, closed off from the south-west by the three-storey Renaissance palace (keep) which adjoins the outer walls of the upper castle. The monumental outline of the palace towers above the rock precipice, topped with tall roofs with interconnected, dual gables. The interiors on both the basement level and on the representational ground floor level feature vaulted ceilings of the groin type. The ground floor windows are positioned inside arcaded niches with sitting benches (sedilias). In the western part of the complex lies the lower castle with its spacious courtyard and a series of buildings positioned alongside the walls, including residential buildings for the members of the garrison, the stable and the large administrative building known as the chancellery as well as the grand, three-storey gatehouse. A straight gorge lies in front of the castle gate, stretching almost 30 metres towards the south.
The castle is in private hands and may only be explored upon prior appointment.
compiled by Piotr Roczek, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Wrocław, 25-03-2015.
- Łuczyński R., Zamki, dwory i pałace w Sudetach, Legnica 2008, pp. 152-158.
- Słownik Geografii Turystycznej Sudetów. Vol. 3 Karkonosze, M. Staffa (ed.), Wrocław 1993, pp. 50-52,
- Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, Warsaw 2006, pp. 701-702.
- Zamki i dwory obronne w Sudetach, Vol. II Księstwo jaworskie, Wrocław 2009, pp. 71-86.
Protection: Register of monuments, Monuments records
Inspire id: PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_N_02_BK.79930, PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_E_02_BK.96308