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Castle complex

Szamotuły

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The remains of the Late Gothic castle of a defensive and residential nature located in Szamotuły are evidence of the grandeur of the most prominent families: the Szamotulski family and the Górka family. After 1513, Łukasz Górka transformed the knights’ seat into a modern Renaissance aristocratic residence. Although the castle in Szamotuły cannot compare to other castles of Greater Poland in terms of size, it has retained its shape from the alteration performed in the 19th century, parts preserved in the archaeological layer, the fortified tower called “Halszka’s Tower” or “Tower of the Black Princess”, which is inextricably linked to the tragic figure of Halszka from Ostróg. Parts of the moat and the earth ramparts have also been preserved. Originally, the castle was surrounded with a moat and a wall with 4 fortified towers. Next to the castle, there is a castle outbuilding and other buildings. The complex is situated on an artificial elevation, in a landscape park, which serves the function of a city park. Many legends are associated with the castle which are linked to the figure of princess Halszka from Ostróg, who did not wish to be married to Łukasz Górka (she was imprisoned in the tower in the years 1559-1573). This fact has been reflected in art and literature - Skarga’s Sermon painted by Jan Matejko.

History

The existing town of Szamotuły was created to the south-west of the settlement called Old Szamotuły, first mentioned in 1231. The exact reason and date of foundation of the new town remains unknown. Szamotuły obtained municipal rights in 1284. (?). However, some of the information on the family dates back only to the 14th century. The site was renovated in 1423 by way of a charter granted by Władysław Jagiełło to brothers Dobrogost and Wincenty Szamotulski. Szamotuły belonged to the Nałęcz-Szamotulski family for several centuries. In the 15th century, walls were built around the town, and the town itself was also split between the two brothers. Since then, there have been two lines of the Szamotulski family. One part of the family, bearing the name of Świdwa, owned the Poznańskie suburb, and the other owned the Wronieckie suburb, which in 1513 became property of the Górka family. It is here that an impressive residence was built - a second castle, which has survived to this day and functions as a museum. The castle in the Poznańskie suburb was demolished (after 1670), and a monastery of the Reformers and a church of the Holy Cross were erected on top of its remains. In the 16th-17th century, Szamotuły was an important centre for religious dissenters. Following the heirless death of Łukasz Górka in 1573, Szamotuły were owned by the Gostyński, Rokossowski and Kostka families. After 1670, the entirety of Szamotuły became property of Jan Korzbok Łącki. In 1719, it was bought by Władysław K. Kąsinowski. The next owners are the Mycielski family and the Mielżyński family. In the 19th century, among German owners of the castle complex there appear princes of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who remained in possession of the estate until 1920.

- 1405 - construction of the first castle in the northern part of the town and a fortified gate tower

- 1513 - Katarzyna Szamotulska brings the northern part of the town together with the castle as part of her dowry to Łukasz Górka, who was general starost of Greater Poland and castellan of Poznań.

- 1518 - first stage of castle alteration; it is likely then that the fortified tower was altered and transformed into the residential tower which has survived to this day; other fortified elements of the castle - fortified towers and the wall - have not been preserved. Only archaeological relics remain. The residential section which is now called the castle was most likely also built at the time.

- 1842 - F. M. Lanci’s project to restore of the entire complex in the Gothic style which was never implemented.

- 1549-1553 - further modernisation and alteration of the castle carried out by Andrzej Górka, son of Łukasz. The works are carried out by Jan Czeterwann, a builder from Poznań.

- end of the 18th century - construction of several utility buildings, likely including the outbuilding.

- after 1869 - the ruined castle buildings and residential tower undergo a full-scale renovation and alteration, as well as partial reconstruction, owing to the efforts of the then owners, princes of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

- fourth quarter of the 19th century - creation of a park from the existing gardens with the use of a moat and ramparts.

- 1921-1926 - renovation of the castle buildings carried out by the then tenant, Cezary Matuszewski

- after 1945 - the Agricultural Technical School was placed inside the castle

- since 1957 - the Museum of the Land of Szamotuły was opened inside the tower

- 1950s - renovation of the castle and the fortified tower.

- 1980s - on the basis of architectural studies of the Castle coupled with archaeological works around it, under the direction of architect Aleksander Werc, a new corner tower was designed, the ceilings were replaced with steel and ceramic ones and the original wooden beamed ceilings were suspended from them, window and door woodwork was replaced, the interiors were modified to uncover the Gothic elements of the castle and partially reconstruct them, floors were reconstructed, the king post truss was renovated, and the roof was clad with beaver tail tiles.

- 2013 - conservation of the roof truss and replacement of roof cover.

Description

Szamotuły - a district town located in the Poznań Lake Region, by the Sama river, approx. 35 km to the north-west of Poznań. An important node - a junction of roads to Czarnków, Oborniki, Pniewy, Poznań and Wronki. The town is located by the railway from Poznań to Szczecin. In the heart of the town’s chessboard layout lies a quadrangular market square with 11 road exits. The castle complex is situated in the northern part of the town, at the left bank of the Sama river, several hundred metres away from the market square. It is limited by Wroniecka Street and Sienkiewicza Square from the west, by an alleyway running along the former moat - in the direction of the Sama - from the south, and by a riverbed from the east. In the north, the complex adjoins a former farmyard created in the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century. The residential castle section consists of a group of castle buildings and accompanying buildings, as well as a landscape park spanning 4.2 ha. The buildings were erected on an artificial elevation. The natural boundaries to the west and the south are the depressions of former castle moats, and in the south - a pond. From the street and from the yard, the fencing is contemporary. The main entrance gate leads from the west and is located in the northern part near the border with the farmyard. In the central part, there is the castle building, and several dozen metres to the south-east, there is the fortified tower. To the north, in front of the castle building, there is a representative courtyard with a round decorative lawn in the middle, originally flanked with outbuildings from the 18th century. Today, only the western outbuilding remains, to which the governor’s house was added after 1865. In place of the eastern outbuilding, the Museum’s administrative building was constructed.

The castle building (according to KZSZ - building on the castle grounds) is made of brick and has plastered walls and stone foundations. The main body is an example of late-Gothic architecture. Built on an L-shaped floor plan, it consists of two cuboidal, two-storey wings - northern wing and western wing - positioned at a right angle. The basements have two-storeys and feature a barrel vault with lunettes. The wings are covered with gable roofs, clad with monk-and-nun tiles after the most recent renovation, which conceal the king post truss from the 16th century. The walls of the building are buttressed on the outside. The windows were altered during the renovation after 1869. The crowning cornice with dentils and neo-Gothic pinnacles in the corners also dates back to that time. The interiors have been largely transformed. The castle is not only representative, but also contains museum collections presenting the interior decoration from various periods and a unique collection of Orthodox icons which were transferred here after being confiscated by border guards. In the wall of the gate-cum-bell tower near the church of Our Lady of Consolation, there is an embedded Renaissance plaque coming from the castle, with the date 1518 (?) and shields with the coats of arms of Łódź and of the Nałęcz family which are held by knights, and with an inscription mentioning Łukasz Górka, castellan of Poznań and general starost of Greater Poland.

The tower, called Halszka’s Tower, was built in the 14th century and subsequently altered, made of brick laid in the Polish pattern. It is a three-storey building with a high basement, built on a rectangular, almost square floor plan. A cylindrical stairwell was added to the north. Each storey houses a single room which can be accessed from the stairwell. The basement and the first storey feature barrel vaults, while the upper storeys have regular ceilings. Unplastered façades are buttressed in the corners and crowned with pinnacles from the post-1869 alteration. In the southern façade, there is a projecting section spanning the entire height of the building, with a window at the top, framed with with sandstone decorated with a twisted rope motif. The eastern and western façades contain machicolations which support the topmost storey. All façades bear visible traces of numerous alterations. Apart from archaeological and military collections, the tower houses the chamber where Halszka from Ostróg, known as “the Black Princess”, who did not want to be married to Łukasz II Górka, lived (was imprisoned?) for 14 years. A figure shrouded in mystery, whose history has been the subject of many myths and legends. She passed away in the state of madness, in 1583, 10 years after the death of Łukasz Górka.

The one-storey castle outbuilding, topped with a mansard roof, houses the museum’s ethnographic collections. At the granary, situated in the area of the former farmyard, archaeological exhibits are presented which were obtained during the inspection connected with the construction of the A2 motorway.

View corridors lead through the park from the castle and the fortified tower to the pond in the south; there are also footpaths which lead to the south and the east. The majority of park trees grow in the northern part of the park. Over the moat and near the fortified tower, there are horse-chestnuts growing. The neighbouring area is dominated by robinia, maples, lime trees, plane trees and monumental elms.

The site is accessible to visitors. The castle interiors and Halszka’s Tower can be explored during the opening hours of the Museum. May-September: Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays and holidays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; October-April: Tuesday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

compiled by Teresa Palacz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznań, 14-11-2014.

Bibliography

  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, Ruszczyńska T., Sławska A. (red.), t. 5, z. 23 pow. szamotulski, s. 23-33, Warszawa 1966.
  • Guerquin B., Zamki w Polsce, s.274-275, Warszawa 1974.
  • Gomolec L., Szamotuły, gród Halszki, Szamotuły 1954.
  • Olejnik K., Grody i zamki w Wielkopolsce, Poznań 1993.
  • Raczyński hr. E., Wspomnienia Wielkopolski, t. I, s. 171-182, Poznań 1842, reprint, Warszawa 1982.
  • Jakimowicz T., Wyniki wstępnych prac badawczych na zamku w Szamotułach [w:] „Kwartalnik Architektury i Urbanistyki”, z. 2, 1973.
  • Zagórska S., Halszka z Ostroga. Między faktami a mitami, Warszawa 2006.
  • Powiat szamotulski na dawnej pocztówce (1897-1945), Szamotuły 2002.
  • Romantowska-Pietrzak M., Szamotuły na dawnej pocztówce 1898-1939, Szamotuły 2000.
  • Łęcki Wł., Wielkopolska - słownik krajoznawczy, Poznań 2002.

General information

  • Type: castle
  • Chronology: 1405 r.
  • Form of protection: heritage-listed monuments
  • Address: Wroniecka 30, Szamotuły
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district szamotulski, commune Szamotuły - miasto
  • Copyright owner: National Heritage Board of Poland

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