Castles Legends. Castles in Poland is a collection of legends about fifty castles located in present-day Poland. This compilation contains both well-known stories, such as the Legend of the Wawel Dragon, and those lesser-known, such as the Legend of Iris of Tęczyn Castle. This book takes you on an exciting adventure to distant lands across different historical eras. Take a peek at Kruszwica Castle from the times preceding the rule of the Piast dynasty, or at the 20th-century Książ Castle. Investigate how facts mould with beliefs into one, and how seemingly innocent events take on a legendary status.
Castles Legends. Castles in Poland is a must-read for all enthusiasts of castles, intriguing stories, mysteries, hidden treasures, ghosts, spectres, and demons of all kind. This book takes you to a whole different world; a realm of wonders.
This e-book was created as part of the project Castles.today.
The project seeks to promote history and tourism by offering high-quality content related to castles and forts scattered around the globe. We want to offer you a getaway from the daily hustle and take you back in time to the era of princesses and knights strolling in castle chambers and along defensive walls.
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This e-book was created as part of the Castles.today project that seeks to promote history and tourism by presenting high-quality content related to castles and forts scattered around the globe. We offer you a brief escape from the daily routine, allowing you to travel back in time to the era of princesses and knights strolling through chambers and castle walls.
Copyright © Castles Michał Nowakowski
Written by Kinga Kijewska
Illustrated by Agata Krzyżewska
Translation by Joanna Zahorska
Typesetting by Smart DTP
Project coordinator: Michał Nowakowski
Edition: e-Book 2021
More legends you can find at: www.castles.today or in the app Castles.today
When I look at old walls of medieval strongholds, I see more than just bricks. I see history, I see the life of people of that era. I see their joy and sorrow. I feel a piece of that long-gone world forever echoing in the castle stones. Part of history remains somewhere there, deep inside, waiting for those willing to rediscover it.
This book will take you on a journey to the past times – the middle ages, the renaissance, and, in some cases, also to events of the recent past. Nonetheless, all these stories share one thing – an aura of mystery. Dragons, spirits, hidden treasures… It all relentlessly inspires fantasies in any enthusiast of these majestic buildings. Let yourself be taken away to the world where magic and sorcery become one with reality; to places we all perfectly know that are shown here from a different, extraordinary point of view.
It is my great desire for you to see something more than brick walls in these places when reading this collection of legends. I would like you to see the world that I can see even when staring at nothing but ruins. To stop for a moment and try see it differently than before. To notice that which is dormant and to discover that which is not visible to the naked eye. I invite you to step into my world – a world of legends and fairy tales related to castles that can be found in Poland.
Legends of Lipowiec Castle inBabice
Legends of Besiekiery Castle
The Legend of Bezławki Castle
The Legend of Będzin Castle
The Legend of Bierutów Castle
The Legend of the castles in Bobolice and Mirów
The Legend of Bolków Castle
The Legend of Chęciny Castle
Legends of the Castle of the Masovian Dukes in Ciechanów
Legends of the Castle of the Masovian Dukes in Czersk
Legends of the Castle in Golub-Dobrzyń
Legends of Grodziec Castle
The Legend of the Castle of the Bishops of Kraków in Iłża
The Legend of Janowiec Castle
Legends of Chojnik Castle in Jelenia Góra-Sobieszów
The Legend of Kazimierz Dolny Castle
The Legend of Kliczków Castle
The Legend of Kórnik Castle
Legends of the Wawel Royal Castle, Kraków
The Legend of Kruszwica Castle
The Legend of Lesko Castle
The Legend of the Castle in Lidzbark Warmiński
The Legends of Liw Castle
Legends of Łęczyca Castle
Legends of Malbork Castle
The Legend of Sobień Castle inManasterzec Village
The Legend of Nidzica Castle
Legends of Kamieniec Castle in Odrzykoń
Legends of the Castle in Olsztyn near Częstochowa
The Legend of Oporów Castle
Legends of Ogrodzieniec Castle
Legends of Gryf Castle in Proszówka
The Legend of the Castle of Masovian Dukes in Rawa Mazowiecka
Legends of Castle Tenczyn in Rudno
The Legend of Ryn Castle
The Legend of Pilcza Castle in Smoleń
The Legend of Sobków Castle
Legends of Czocha Castle in Sucha
Legends of Pieskowa Skała Castle in Sułoszowa
The Legend of the Górka Family Castle in Szamotuły
The Legend of the Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle in Szczecin
Legends of Krzyżtopór Castle in Ujazd
Legends of the Castle of Gniezno Archbishops in Uniejów
Legends of Książ Castle in Wałbrzych
Legends of the Royal Castle in Warsaw
Legends of Ostrogski Castle in Warsaw
The Legend of Lenno Castle in Wleń
Legends of Grodno Castle in Zagórze Śląskie
Long, long time ago, in the distant medieval era, Lipowiec Castle served for many years as a prison for bishops. Ithoused numerous wretched souls who dared to opposethe powerof the Catholic Church.
And at that time, the Church unquestionably showed no mercy for its opponents. Oftentimes, the fate convicts faced there was cruel. Executioners would use various forms of torture, prisoners were incarcerated in cellsand put merely on a dietof breadand water, and sometimes sentenced to death by starvation... Though these atrocities have been discontinued for many centuries now, their impact on the castle walls is permanent. To this day, the premises are haunted by spirits of past convicts. On full moon, one can often hear odd moans and cries coming from the castle dungeons. It is said that around midnight, on some occasions, a violent wind suddenly rises... Even on a warm summer night, the air is said to turn ice-cold at those moments… In the outer ward, a shadowof a black carriage appears.
The carriage is drawn by six pairs of black horses. Then, a bishop clad in purple emerges from the carriage, slowly enters the castle yard. Behind him, guards are dragging a convict. Then, a headsman rises a swordand a thunder strikes, the earth crumbles and caves in, and the spirits disappear… This scene takes place again and again, with nothing suggesting that these ghosts will soon find solace...
Like many other castles, Lipowiec Castle has its White Lady. Where does the name of the castle come from? This is revealed in a beautiful romantic legend that probably holds quite a large grain of truth… Francesco Stancaro was supposedly the best-known prisoner held in Lipowiec Castle. It is said that he was the only one who managed to escape the prison in Babice. This Italian man born in Mantua co-authored the so-called Brest Bible. This alone made him a great adversary of the Church. And the fact that he planned to carry out reformation in Poland only added to his fame of an exceptionally dangerous man. The Church was not fond of those who had the courage to oppose it and its dignitaries. For his views, Stancaro was imprisoned in the cells of Lipowiec Castle. And it was there that an unusual story took place. According to the legend, he captured the heart of the castle guard’s daughter. The young girl would do anything to be with her beloved, so she prepared an escape plan. Since due to her father’s position she could enjoy many privileges, each day she would bring sheets to the convict’s cell. The latter would then tie the sheets together to form a long durable rope. On one dark moonless night, once the rope was long enough, the young lad slid down the sheets from the castle tower and escaped. His beloved was supposed to join him on the following day. When she was packing essentials intended to help the young couple being a new life, her father entered her chamber, infuriated. The whole intrigue came to light.
The girl was to be guarded, prohibited from leaving the castle. Francesco could not return to help her, as that would mean his re-imprisonment with no chance for rescue. The girl cried and begged her father to allow her to join her beloved one, but the man remained unbent. She did not want to live without her love any longer. She put on a wedding gown and climbedthe castle tower. She jumped off and fell onto the roofof the keep. Since then, her ghost has been roaming the ruinsof Lipowiec Castle. It is said that she is looking for her beloved who will return and save her.
The first legend of Besiekiery Castle is truly unique. Why is that so? Well, the ghost that can be seen there is in fact roaming from one castle to another. This ghost is said to reside permanently in a nearby village called Borysławice Zamkowe. However, the spectre has been repeatedly sighted also in the vicinity of ruins in Besiekiery. Why is the White Lady indecisive as to which stronghold she should settle in? The answer to this question can be found in a legend...
The spectre of Besiekiery is said to be the ghost of the Szczawiński family’s daughter – one of the former owners of these lands. Their property also included the nearby castle in Borysławice Zamkowe. What has gained this unfortunate soul the suffering of eternal damnation? The girl used to live in the castle in Besiekiery. Her parents were influential people and, as was common in that time, they found her the right candidate to be wed to. However, the maiden was not eager to enter into an arranged marriage. She was in love with someone else and it was him she wanted to wed. Since the boy were neither of a social class nor wealth that would suit those of the girl, it was a lost cause. According to the legend, to keep the maiden apart from her beloved one, the Szczawiński family put her in their other stronghold in Borysławice Zamkowe. There she was expected to await her wedding with the fiancé chosen by her parents. Struck by grief, the girl refused to accept the fate her relatives envisaged for her. To escape the unwanted marriage, she hence tried to flee down the gate tower where she was locked. This attempt ended tragically. The girl fell to her death. Since then, the spectre has been roaming from one castle to the other in search for her lover. It is said that on moonlit nights she can be sighted in a window of the tower overlooking Besiekiery Castle ruins.
Another legend related to the castle is the story of a devil named Boruta (the very same who is a permanent resident of the nearby Łęczyca).
As the legend has it, the keep in Besiekiery was erected by a knight who made a wager with the devil that he will do so without using the axe. Had he succeeded, Boruta would gift him with the greatest treasures of this world. The knight ensured that the forbidden tool was not used by any of the workers he employed at the castle construction site. Finally, the stronghold was completed. They have made it! Overjoyed, the knight wanted to settle the bet with the devil. Nonetheless, the devil would not be himself if he had not deceived the man… As it turned out, a peasant who would bring stones required for the construction work was called Siekierka [a name that stems from the Polish word siekiera, which means an ‘axe’ – Translator’s note]. Therefore, the knight lost the bet. He had to pay Boruta with his soul and also the castle. This event is said to be the origin of the name of the village Besiekiery (as in bez siekiery, which means ‘without an axe’ in Polish).
The Holy Grail... The chalice known from Arthurian legends that is said to have been used by the Christ at the Last Supper... But why would this chalice be found in Poland? And did it really exist? To answer these questions, we must go back first to the Middle Ages, specifically, to the 11th-century England. In 1066, in the battle of Hastings, the king of England at the time, Harold, died. Not only did the battle resulted in the king’s death but also put the fate of England into the hands of William. Yes, indeed – William the Conqueror himself. Very well. But how are these events related to the Holy Grail? The legendary chalice is said to have been property of Harold’s. After he died and the new ruler came to power, the king’s children were forced to flee the country. As usual in such cases, they took the most valuable items with them. Including the chalice.
The escape plan envisaged getting to Byzantium via Lithuania and Kievan Rus’. However, as it is known, fate can be perverse, and king Harold’s two sons settled in Lithuania. It is said that the Holy Grail stayed there with them. Afterwards, it was never heard of again. Now, let us make a leap in time about 350 years forward. We are still in the Middle Ages (the difference being that it is the late period of the era), But in a completely different part of Europe, namely, Lithuania. Here, the story recalls a family that is well-known in Polish history, namely, relatives of king Władysław II Jagiełło. Allegedly, the Grail got into the hands of duke Bolesław Świdrygiełło, King’s youngest brother. They were said to have been inseparable. For this reason, in 1402, the chalice was brought by duke Bolesław, who was fighting at the time with the Teutonic Order in Lithuania, to Bezławki Castle. It is said that Świdrygiełło left Bezławki in 1404, yet without the chalice.
Allow me here to add a few words on the castle itself. It has never been an impressive stronghold. It served as the seat of the official responsible for managing the lowest administrative unit of the Teutonic Order, namely, a bailiwick. Therefore, its garrison has never been numerous. Additionally, in the early 16th century, it lost its military significance. In 1513, it has been turned into a church. However, it was at that time that it had to face a true danger. In the summer of 1520, the stronghold-church was approached by Tatar troops. This, obviously, was not a good sign. The chalice was hence walled up in one of the church walls. Since then, it has disappeared without a trace...
That is the legend. But what does history have to say about it? Did the Holy Grail really exist, was it taken to Bezławki, and is it still hidden somewhere in the walls of the old keep?
Chroniclers who wrote down the stories of that era confirm that duke Świdrygiełło did bring two chalices with him. In the handwritten records we find the information that one of the chalices was Greek and the other English. And though the name ‘Holy Grail’ is nowhere to be found in these scriptures, the English origin of one of the vessels feeds human imagination. Until this day, numerous treasure hunters eagerly visit this place.
Once upon a time, in distant past, as it all happened in the Middle Ages somewhere near Racibórz, Mikołaj of Jaroszowo of the Kornicz coat of arms was born, also known as Mikołaj Kornicz Siestrzeniec. This poor nobleman fought in the Battle of Grunwald at the side of king Władysław Jagiełło himself. As he showed “unmatched bravery” at that time, the king made him a burgrave of Będzin Castle. Aside from the estate, Jagiełło offered Mikołaj also his friendship.
The Będzin burgrave overused the advantages that came with his privileges. He became known as a villain and a varmint. He was argumentative beyond any limits. He had no respect for anyone. He accused Marshal of the kingdom Jan Oleśnicki of being of unnoble background only because he didn’t agree with him on politics. He imprisoned son of Tomasz of Nawojowo and kept Świętosław, a burgher of a bishop’s town Sławkowo, in the stocks. That’s not all – he also raided and looted; he used to set his thugs on everyone who dared to have a different opinion than his. He continuously sued people for money and always won in court. Additionally, he was said to be a secret supporter of the Hussites. After all, he enjoyed royal friendship and protection.
For years, he was getting away with his wickedness, but nothing lasts forever. Finally, he got accused of stealing from Jagiełło himself. Itis said that during the war with the Order, having looted a Teutonic castle, he refused to give the king treasures that he owed him. The list of allegations was extended to include disclosure of secrets of the state, supporting a group of Silesian robbers and conspiring with Sigismund of Luxembourg himself, who planned to execute a partitioning of Poland. On 1 March 1434, the royal court found him guilty of all the acts we had been charged with and by its judgment Mikołaj was stripped of his title of the Będzin burgrave.
Kornicz had to leave Będzin. Legend has it that he took as much as he could before his departure, but some of the treasures he had gathered over the years were left hidden somewhere deep in the castle dungeons. As he didn’t live in poverty afterwards, owing to his connection to the Szafraniec family, he bought himself a lifelong title of the burgrave of Rabsztyń Castle and Przedbórz starosty. He wanted to return to Będzin for his treasures, but he never succeeded. He died in 1445.
Since then, one can encounter a mysterious spectre in Będzin Castle. It is a headless knight who walks out of the castle tower at night and strolls along the castle walls. Is he repentant for betraying the king? Or is he guarding his treasures hidden in the underground? Most likely, we will never know…
This story happened in 1643. Three imperial soldiers, namely, Joachim, Frederic, and William, arrived in Bierutów. Legend has it, these soldiers were extremely courageous. They had managed to survive many skirmishes. They did enjoy revelries and boozy feasts. One time, they went on a bender in one of the castle chambers. There were lots of alcohol. Awful lots. Once it already got to their heads, they started raising a toast to the Devil himself. Suddenly, an incredible thing happened. At the table next to them, a strange figure appeared, his eyes glowing with fire. He smiled and asked, “Why have you summoned me and what do you want from me?” “The Devil,” cried out the soldiers and froze motionless. At that moment, a great force lifted them up and threw them on the floor violently. Once they came to, the strange visitor was already gone. Not even a month after this event, all the three companions died in war. They were said to have sold their souls to the Devil who took away that which was his. That’s what happens when one calls the name of the Devil for no reason… However, it is said that to this day, a man can be sighted in the vicinity of the castle, his eyes glowing with fire.
Once upon a time, there were twin brothers. They shared a very strong bond. They used to make all decisions together and they would go to war together, and each of them would go through fire and water for the other. One of them was a lord of a castle in Bobolice, while the other if that in Mirów. Though the two castles were not far away, the brothers had their strongholds connected via an underground tunnel to make visiting each other easier.
One time, the brothers acquired a great treasure. Some said thy won it during their escapades, others claimed they inherited it from their deceased relative. The only certain thing was that these were unimaginable riches. To protect it best they could, the brothers hid the treasure in the tunnel connecting their homes. However, it was not enough for them and they made a deal with a local witch so that she’d guard the treasure. The witch accepted their offer. The guarded the treasure all days and nearly all nights; however, once a month, she would go away to attend a coven. At that time, the riches were guarded by her pet, a devilish hound. The beast resembled more of a devil than an animal. No adventurers mustered the courage to approach it. Confident that their wealth was safe, the brothers went back to living the lifestyle they were used to. However, everything changed soon after...
One of them, the lord of Bobolice Castle, brought a maiden he abducted during a military campaign – a beautiful girl he soon fell in love with. There wouldn’t be anything surprising if not for the fact that the other brother fell head over feet in love with her. Although initially, he kept his love a secret, he eventually realised that his brother’s beloved would be more compatible with him.
Having discovered his brother’s intentions, the lord of Bobolice Castle decided to punish the girl. To this end, he gave her away to the witch who was guarding treasures in the underground. However, the lord of Mirów Castle didn’t intend to give up easily. Each night, under the pretext of wating to see the treasure, he sneaked in to see the girl. He soon gained her interest and then her love. The nights when the witch left her to go to a coven, the lovers spend time together, the devilish hound the sole witness of their meetings. Since the witch ordered the hound not to approach the brothers, seeing what was happening in the dungeon when she was away, the hound would howl aloud. The sound was so horrific and loud it echoed across the land.
One time, the brother from Bobolice lost his cool and he want to see what was going on. When he climbed down to the underground he saw the lovers embracing. Overwhelmed with rage, he retrieved his sword and killed his brother. It was only at that moment that he realised that he had committed an unforgiveable sin. Thus, he retrieved the sword one more time to end his own life…
And what about the girl? It is said that the witch is guarding her to this day in the secret tunnel. He ghost, the White Lady, can be sighted in the castle in Bobolice at night when the witch leaves to attend a coven.
While we may encounter spectres of ladies or headless knights in other castles, the castle in Bolków is haunted by a jester. Where did the ghost of a jester roaming on the castle walls come from?
As a young lad, duke Bolko II (grandson of Bolko I) fell madly in love with a young and beautiful Kunegunda, daughter of a brave knight named Lottar. His love interest was frowned upon by his parents – Bernard Świdnicki and Kunegunda Łokietkówna. They were planning to marry their son off to someone else. Politics was the priority, obviously. Young Bolko was to be betrothed to Agnieszka, an Austrian princess. To quench their son’s desire, the noble couple sent Lottar on a long and dangerous quest; meanwhile, his daughter was locked in a monastery. Soon after, the spouses proclaimed that Lottar and Kunegunda were dead. Facing his beloved’s death, the young duke married the maiden suggested by his parents. However, Łokietkówna was concerned that the intrigue might eventually come to light. Therefore, she ordered Kunegunda to be poisoned. Her plan almost succeeded, was. She was this close to succeeding, when her plan was uncovered by Jakub, a herbalist’s apprentice. In agreement with the abbess of the monastery, he hid the young girl at her own mother’s house. To leave absolutely no mark of his trickery, Jakub and the abbess even organised a fake funeral for Kunegunda. The world was told that it was the herbalist’s apprentice who had poisoned the girl...
Meanwhile, Jakub was hired at Bolków Castle as a jester. This allowed him to report to Kunegunda about what was going on in her beloved’s life. And there was plenty… Duchess Mother died, whereas Bolko’s wife Agnieszka had given birth to a son. At the same time, Lottar returned from his quest. Obviously, he then learned about his daughter’s death. He wanted to take revenge on Jakub. He found him playing with Bolko II’s son on a meadow by the castle.
Jakub didn’t know who the man approaching him was. Asked about the child, he replied that the boy was his son. Enraged, Lottar shot his catapult and killed the boy. ‘Your child’s life for the life of mine,’ he said. He thought that he thus avenged his daughter’s death. It was only then that Jakub recognised the knight and told him the truth. He knew that once Bolko would have learned who had killed his son, he would get him executed. To save Kunegunda from losing yet another person she loved, he took the blame for killing the boy on himself. He said the child shot itself while playing by mistake.
Bolko II did not forgive his jester, nonetheless. Jakub was sentenced to death. The execution took place in the marketplace in Świdnica. The duke ordered the boy to be buried in the cemetery. His body was buried by the town gate. It is said that since then, on moonlit nights, one may encounter the jester’s ghost on the walls of Bolków Castle.
This story has quite a lot of truth to it. Already in the 18th century, people believed the alleged son of Bolko II called Bolko III or Michaś really existed. In the Silesian Piast Mausoleum in Krzeszów, where Bolko II was buried, an epitaph can be found, dedicated to the death of the duke’s son. Bolko II’s son, killed by a jester, is also mentioned in the 16th-century chronicle by Joachim Cureus, as well as some 17th-century historical records by Ephraim Naso. To this day, historians remain unsure as to whether Bolko did in fact have any offspring or not.
The castle in Chęciny is a structure related to Queen Bona Sforza. Beautiful, wise, well-educated, with an entrepreneurial mindset, the woman found herself in conflict with Polish noblemen. Many stories were told about her, intended to discredit the queen in the eyes of her subjects… Was this case the same? Or is there a grain of truth to this legend?
Once upon a time, in the long-gone medieval period, the castle in Chęciny was visited by an exceptional guest. Queen Bona herself appeared in the stronghold. It was said that on her way to the keep in Chęciny, the ruler experienced some difficulties. When she was just about to arrive in Chęciny with her entourage, horses that were pulling the royal carriage got startled. Frightened, the animals rushed forward. Queen’s courtiers didn’t know what to do. Unable to move, they were certain that a tragedy was about to unfold in a moment. Only one of them mustered the courage. He got
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