Castle ruins, Rytwiany
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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One of the few brick medieval castles situated in the Lesser Poland (Małopolska) region, beyond the territories of northern Poland where brick Gothic was the most prevalent. Today, the castle ruins remain shrouded in mystery, their secrets fuelling the collective imagination.

History

The history of the castle – one of the most mysterious of its kind anywhere in Poland – continues to be rather obscure, with little being known about its origins. Until recently, it was believed that the castle was erected by the Cracow bishop Wojciech Jastrzębiec (who would later go on to become the archbishop of Gniezno) for his nephews – a theory based on the information provided by the chronicler Jan Długosz (Johannes Longinus). However, it has recently transpired that the castle has much earlier origins, having most likely been built in the late 14th century (or perhaps even earlier) since historical sources dating back to as early as 1397 already contain references to the structure, which is mentioned as the subject of the dispute between Klemens from Mokrsko, the castellan of Radom, and Małgorzata, the widowed wife of Paszek from Rytwiany. Another reference to the castle – specifically, to its chapel – dates back to the year 1414; during that period, Rytwiany was already owned by the archbishop’s nephews. It is now accepted that the castle was redesigned somewhere between 1420 and 1436; later on, it would remain the family seat of the Jastrzębiec-Rytwiański noble family almost until the very end of the 15th century. Frequent changes of ownership followed, in most cases due to complex family ties. Towards the end of the 16th century, the castle was acquired by the Tęczyński family, while later still, following the death of Jan Magnus Tęczyński – the founder of the famous Camaldolese monastery in Rytwiany – it became the property of Łukasz Opaliński, an educated and cultivated man, who was known for having amassed one of the most impressive collections of books in Europe in his day. Opaliński, however, would also prove just as able a soldier as he was a collector, for in 1657 he has managed to fend off the onslaught mounted by the forces of duke Rákóczi of Hungary. Later on, he has begun rebuilding the castle, which sustained damage during the siege; however, it appears that still later, after the Swedish invasion of Poland known as the Deluge, the castle has ceased to perform its original function. The castle was ultimately demolished in the mid-19th century, when Rytwiany remained in the hands of the Potocki family. In 1986, Professor Michał Proksa conducted preliminary archaeological studies of the site. In years 2013-2014, the entire area surrounding the historical ruins was revitalised, resulting in the establishment of a communal historical and educational park, with the relics of the corner of the castle walls serving as a visual and functional centre of the site.

Description

The remnants of the castle are situated in the centre of the village of Rytwiany, lying in a broad, level valley of the Czarna river. The most notable part of the ruins is the tall relic of the corner of the structure, featuring a fragment of a diagonal buttress made of both ordinary and overburnt brick, the latter arranged in a decorative, rhomboidal pattern. In addition, a fragment of a frieze made of diagonally positioned bricks can be seen in the upper section of the wall. The inner surfaces of the surviving relic are pierced with putlock holes where ceiling beams had once been anchored as well as fragments of plasterwork on three levels of the now-vanished building. The surviving wall fragment is accompanied by an earthen rampart which conceals vestiges of castle structures. Following the completion of excavation works, it has been concluded that the castle went through at least two distinct development phases. The surviving wall corner with a single buttress is all that remains of a single-bay, three-storey building with overall dimensions of 13 x 39 metres, erected towards the end of the 14th century. A similar structure is believed to have stood north of the said building, on the other side of the courtyard. The peripheral defensive wall, designed on a rectangular plan, was built during the second phase (first half of the 15th century); the northern section of the wall was adjoined by the great hall. The location of the entrance gate remains unknown, although it is now believed that it may have formed part of the eastern section of the defensive wall.

The site is open to visitors.

Compiled by Aleksandra Ziółkowska, 03-12-2015

Bibliography

  • Record sheet of monuments of architecture, Rytwiany, ruiny zamku (Rytwiany, castle ruins), prepared by J. Maraśkiewicz, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Kielce, Sandomierz Branch Office.
  • Gosztyła M., Proksa M., Zamki Polski południowo-wschodniej, Przemyśl 1997.
  • Guerquin B., Zamki w Polsce, Warsaw 1984.
  • Kajzer L., Kołodziejski S., Salm J., Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Warsaw 2007.
  • Kazimierza Stronczyńskiego opisy i widoki zabytków w Królestwie Polskim (1844-1855), vol. II: Gubernia Radomska, prepared by K. Guttmejer, Warsaw 2010
  • Proksa M., Fundacja arcybiskupa Wojciecha Jastrzębca w Rytwianach w świetle badań archeologiczno-architektonicznych, “Materiały Rzeszowskiego Ośrodka Archeologicznego za 1985-1990”, Rzeszów 1992.

General information

  • Type: castle
  • Chronology: 1397 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Rytwiany
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district staszowski, commune Rytwiany
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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