Krakow area – Województwo Małopolskie its one of oldest historical parts of Poland. Thanks to this it makes this area full of castles from medieval ages till younger XVIII century fortifications. Krakow castles from this area are different because of architecture and purpose of them. All of them you can reach from Krakow by car in around 2 hours or less.
1. Rabsztyn Castle – 45 km from Krakow
This castle was build around XIII century. Its Gothic structure. During Swedish deluge times, castle was severe damaged, and till modern days was not rebuild. In 2009 government done partial restoration of castle. Each year in castle is held chivalry tournament.
2. Sucha Beskidzka Castle – 42 km from Krakow
Castle was build by nobleness family of Słupski in middle of XVI century. Each century castle was in possession of different family.
During WW2 stronghold was preserved and was not bombed because it was transformed into hospital. And after war castle had different purpose in different decade of XX century – high school, dormitory, factory or warehouse. But in 1991 was in hands of city Sucha Beskidzka, and was restored. Nowadays castle works as community centre and museum.
3. Szymbark Castle – 129 km from Krakow
Family of Gładysz were responsible for building this manor-stronghold in XVI century. But unfortunately Castle was in possession of many families in last 500 years. And was each owner created different purpose of this building – brewery, ware house, grainery.
Around year 1900 castle was in hands of Zbigniew Sękiewicz, who tried renovate and restore old castle but he failed, and he run out of money and he died poor.
After WW2 castle became in hands of Government, and from 1950 till 1990 was partially renovated by Communist Government. But finally in 2010 was fully restored including interior. And today castle is museum and place for conferences.
Szymbark Castle was build in renaissance style.
4. Tenczyn Castle – 40 km from Krakow
Castle was erected around XIV century by nobleman Jan Nawój. His son Jedrzej Nawój, he became landlord, and developed stronghold. Jędrzej change his last name into Tęczyński.
Tęczyński family had in own hands 45 villages near castle. In this stronghold were guested many famous and noble people – Mikołaj Rej, Jan Kochanowski and many people related to Polish renaissance culture. Between Swedish deluge and partitions of Poland, castle was ruined. War and fires demolished most of parts of stronghold.
Until WW2 castle was in possession noble families. During communism times, castle was desolated, to that extent that in year 2010 Polish association “Save Tenczyn” created event to save and restore this piece of history. And from 2016 castle is open to visitors, and is protected by Ministry of Culture.
5. Żupny Castle- 15 km from Krakow
Its castle located in Wieliczka. Where was located main seat of board of Wieliczka Salt Mine. Castle was erected in XIII century by Henryk IV Probus, who located Salt Mine – fully operating enterprise.
Because of mining industry, owner of castle was rich. Its why in each century castle was expanding and rebuilding. In XVIII century castle got big garden around, which is nowadays still beautiful place.
During WW2 castle was bombed by Soviets in 1945, and thankfully it was fully renovated on 1992.
Currently castle is part of Salt Mine Museum. Where are presented archaeological and technological remnants, and artefacts of Polish mining industry.
6. Nowy Wiśnicz Castle – 49 km from Krakow
Castle was erected in XIV century by Jan Kmita. It is Baroque castle with Renaissance interiors. Every 50 years new owner was trying to expand castle and in XVII century when was in hands of Lubomirski family it got reconstruction of bastion fortifications.
Unfortunately during Swedish Deluge, castle was destroyed and looted. After partitions of Poland, castle was abandoned because of fire.
Thankfully in 1901 professor Maurcy Straszewski bought this castle. Straszewski was descendant of Lubomirski family, who ruled this castle in previous centuries. Straszewski was responsible for renovation until WW2.
After war castle became part of government, which continued renovation. There exist legend related to this castle about Flyers. In XVI century few Ottomans became captives after battle of Chocim. Ottomans tried escape from castle by constructing wings and fly from highest tower to near forest. There are erected 3 columns – places to where they manage to fly and escape from castle.
7. Zator Castle – 48 km from Krakow
Castle was built in XV century. It was main seat of prince Wacław. From next centuries castle was rebuild and expanded. In 1778 it was sold to Duninów family and built another level. In year 1836 Potocki family restored castle in neo-Gothic style.
Unfortunately after WW2 castle was taken from right owners by government. In communism times castle was headquarter of Institute of Zootechnics. But lucky in 2013 inheritance case happen in Krakow court, and castle again went back to right owners Potocki family.
8. Pieskowa Skała Castle – 33 km from Krakow
Pieskowa Skała Castle was erected in XIV century by Casimir III the Great – King of Poland. Its Renaissance defensive stronghold build on cliff. Pieskowa Skała is part of Trail of the Eagles Nests – chain of fortifications of Souther Poland.
In 1422 King Wladyslaw Jagiello, give Pieskowa Skała Castle to Piotr Szafraniec – as gratitude of his duties during Battle of Grunwald against Teutonic Order. Szafraniec family, ordered to Italian architect Niccolo Castiglione renovation of castle in XIV century.
Castle was in different hands many times until 1903. In each period each family changed something in architecture of castle. In 1903 Adolf Dygasiński created Pieskowa Skała Society and bought castle and restored. Society wanted to preserve fortifications and open to everyone to visit.
9. Dębno Castle – 66 km from Krakow
This Castle was build in 1470 Jakub Dębski – who was Chancellor of Polish Kingdom. It has own Gothic style. But When castle went into hands of other family was rebuilt in Renaissance style. Around 1772 next family – Tarło – remodelated castle into baroque.
Castle in past 600 years belonged to numerous noble Polish houses. Fortunately non of them changed facade of castle, interior was changed quite often. Till today from outside we can admire original look from XV century.
After WW2 castle is in hands of government. And From 1970 started big renovation of stronghold. Now is part of Tarnów Regional Museum open to visitors.
10. Dobczyce Castle – 31 km from Krakow
Dobczyce Castle is located shore of Dobczyckie lake. Stronghold was build in XIV century with gothic architecture. During times of King Kazimierz the Great castle walls had 9 meters thick. And it was one of important castle in this area – it was Royal Family Castle.
This was place where many youth from royal family was raised and they studied here how to be a overlord or noble. During XVI century castle was remodeled in Renaissance style. Unlucky, during Swedish Deluge castle was destroyed and looted. And stronghold from 1702 star to loos importance. Many walls were demolished.
From 1960 local teacher Władysław Kowalski started archaeology excavation. And government decide to begin restoration of stronghold. Nowadays there exist museum PTTK.
11. Korzkiew Castle – 16 km from Krakow
Korzkiew Castle was build in XIV century by Jan z Syrokomli. Who started his project with building square defensive tower. In XVII century, castle was in hands of different family – Jordan – who decide to rebuild and expand castle. XIX century was difficult for castle, and it was ruined.
Jerzy Donimirski, Polish architect who bought castle, decide to renovate castle. From that days castle is in constant renovation process. One part of castle is currently an hotel. Architect planned to restore courtyard, manor, lake and gardens nearby. His plan is to let castle to be a hotel, museum and open air museum about past history of this place.
12. Przegorzały Castle – 8 km from Krakow
Castle was build by Otto von Wachter. Otto was staroste- government official during Nazi occupation of Poland. He start building process in 1941. Castle by Nazi was called Schloss Wartenberg. Castle was created in Romanticism manner, similar to castles in Germany. In 1943 castle was an gift to Heinrich Himmler, as sanatory for SSmen.
After this, when Poland was liberated by Soviets, in castle there was located Institute of Forestry. Later on Jagiellonian University located there Institute of European Studies and Holocaust Research Centre.
Nowadays from last 30 years in castle is located Polish restaurant. And in 2019 owner of Castle started reconstruction process, end of it is planner for 2021 – when main function of castle will be hotel.
13. Mirów Palace in Książ Wielki – 56 km from Krakow
Palace is located in Ksiaż Wielki. Was designed by Italian architect – Santi Gucci [from Florence] in 1585, and build in XVI century. Piotr Myszkowski and his family was a founder of Palace. There were noble family, who ruled lands in Ksiaż Wielki. Gucci designed Palace and his interior in Renaissance style – it was most popular style during this time in Florence.
When Myszkowski family had no successors, Palace was sold to Wielkopolski family. Franciszek Wielkopolski with help of his architect Józef Lebroni manage to rebuild Palace. Partially, they modernise Renaissance style in to Neogothic.
After WW2 Palace is now in hands of government. From 1949, was renovated, and was located there high-school.
14. Lipowiec Castle – 41 km from Krakow
Lipowiec Castle had strategic location or route Krakow – Silesia. There is unknown date of erection of stronghold. Chronicles mention that Castle before 1243 was in hands of Grifit family. Fortress was protecting merchants on trade route to Silesia.
In medieval times Castle was bought buy Krakow bishop – Jan Prandota. Who incorporated Castle in property of Polish Church. Jan Prandota. It was medieval stone castle, rebuild by bishop Prandota around 1250.
Castle was surrounded by moat, and entrance was trough wooden bridge. Bishop requested improvement and creating artillery terraces and oriels. Lipowiec Castle became seat of Krakow Diocese.
Swedish deluge era was also not prosperous for Castle – it was burned in 1629. And destroyed in 1655, castle became to be old fashioned and not responding to requirements of Bishop. So seat of Krakow Diocese was moved from Lipowiec and lost forever.
Until 1789 castle was in hand of Krakow Bishop, when Kajetan Sołtyk died – current Bishop, as a result Castle was ceded into Polish treasury. And under Austro-Hungarian occupation castle was sold to private owner – unfortunately in 1800 castle again was burned, and almost non of chambers were available to live because of destruction. Castle became to be ruin.
After WW2 when Castle was in hand of government, archaeologists started renovation to save what left from ruins until 1975. Lipowiec Castle was Gothic stronghold build from stones and bricks. Most of wooden elements, cravings did not survived in modern times. Frequent fires destroyed everything.
15. Royal Palace in Łobzów – 5 km from Krakow
Palace is located in Krakow. 10 minutes by tram from Krakow centre. Palace was build under King Kazimierz the Great in XIV century. Was located on trade route from Krakow to Silesia. Its was Gothic castle with defensive purpose.
Castle under King Stefan Batory was transformed into Mannerism style Palace it was Late Renaissance of architecture in Central Europe – Batory hired Italian architect Santi Gucci, who was know in this area already with other renovations. In XVI century King Zygmunt III, hired other Italian architect – Giovanni Trevano – who changed Palace into Baroque style. Unfortunately like most of similar building in this era, was destroyed under Swedish Deluge.
Under Austro-Hungarian Partition Palace had role of Infantry Cadet School. And from 1918, when Poland regain Independence – Polish Military School. Palace was not destroyed under WW2, thanks to this just after war had function of Krakow Polytechnic till today. Also big garden of Palace was sized and was build Stadium for citizens.
Nowadays Palace is in hands of Krakow Polytechnic, and was not fully renovated. Because of that there are many local voices to get founding and restore past magnificent building. Chronicles from Renaissance times named this Palace as Second Versailles.
16. Niedzica Castle – 110 km from Krakow
Niedzica Castle was build in year 1320 by Kokosz. In early ages castle was stronghold on border between Poland and Hungary. Castle in every century changed owner families, who rules this region. Each family was investing in castle and rebuilding or adding new facilities into. There was dark times for castle, when nobody was living there and it was damaged by time, and nobody was took care about this stronghold. After WW 1, Niedzica Castle was under borders of Polish Republic. But finally after WW2, government started to renovate all parts of building.
Now inside is located National Museum about Spis region. Castle is one of most famous in Poland, and was a place where many Polish movies was shoot, as like Janosik, Revenge, Mazepa, Crazy Night and Holiday with Ghosts. Castle is located on bank of Dunajec river, and on opposite site of river are located ruins of Czorsztyn Castle.
17. Niepołomice Royal Castle – 28 km from Krakow
Royal Castle in Niepołomice was erected in XIV century as Gothic fortress. Was rebuild in later in Renaissance style. Its often called as Second Wawel Castle. It was build from order of Casimir the Great, it has defensive purpose. It has three towers, defensive walls, and around of it was build village called Niepołomice. Village was supporting castle with aprovisation and services provided to castle and royal court.
Until 1550 was used by royal court, and royal family. King Sigmund August rebuild castle in Renaissance style with help of Santi Gucci, famous Renaissance architect.
Swedish Deluge in 1655 bring end of gold age of Castle. It was robbed, and after all transformed into warehouse, and Niepołomice village was almost fully destroyed and robbed. From 1772 with First Partition of Poland, Castle became under Austro – Hungarian Empire.
Castle became place of military barracks. And with each year his condition started to be worse. From 1945 Castle became part of Polish Republic, but unfortunately restoration process started in 1991 when Castle was under power of Niepołomice county. Restoration finished in 2007. When it was opened to public, and Castle is an Museum, Hotel and Conference Centre.
18. Nowy Sącz Royal Castle – 108 km from Krakow
Nowy Sącz Castle is medieval royal fortress, erected by Casimir the Great around 1350. It had 3 towers, living royal chambers, outer bailey facilities, defensive walls and one Kings Tower. Nowadays on place of ruins of castle there exist city park.
In medieval times castle hosted many important leaders and royal families from Europe. But like other castle during Swedish Deluge, were looted and destroyed or burned. Same Happened to Nowy Sącz Castle, which because a ruin after XVI century. After 1772, Austro-Hungarians restored Castle to some level, and made here police precinct and army barracks and military warehouse. In year 1846 Castle had a role of prison.
During WW II, Castle was almost destroyed, because had role of ammunition warehouse, and because of military actions almost fully was blown from ammunition blast.
Currently most of Castle do not exist. And It have only restored one tower in 1950, and part of walls.
Castle have own legend – that near the Tower, was small water spring. And guards at night were missing from time to time. Because at midnight each night an Nymph was arising from water spring and she was luring men with music and singing. The nymph was the cause of the knights disappearances.
Nowadays people can´t find this water spring anymore, but sometimes they hear a beautiful melody near the tower…
19. Ojców Castle – 28 km from Krakow
Ojców Castle was an medieval fortress build by Casimir the Great in middle of XIV century. The castle was built to commemorate the father of King Casimir – Ladislaus the Short. Casimir name it Ociec – which means in old Polish “Father”.
Firstly castle was in hand of royal families – Piast, later Jagiełło, and Sforza. Bona Sforza give the right of castle to noble family, and from this period of XVII century, the Castle began to fall into ruin and was in a worse condition with every decade.
Thankfully it was not destroyed much in WW I and WW II. Was successfully restored by government from 1958. Nowadays many part of Castle are restored and transformed into Museum, which everybody can visit.
20. Oświęcim Castle – 70 km from Krakow
Oświęcim Castle is medieval Gothic stronghold, build in X century. It had defensive purpose to protect Krakow from western side. Around Castle was build small town which was providing services for overlord.
Castle took part in many sieges in medieval times. It was under control of Polish Royal families. Stronghold was rebuild because of damages and because of need to protect better local villages. Unfortunately Swedish Deluge was a trigger of fall of Castle. And Stronghold lost importance, and became salt storage.
When Austro Hungarian ruled this area they were planning to fully demolish ruins of Castle. But thankfully this idea was never realised and castle survived to modern times. And Castle is now in hands of Oświęcim Municipality which finished in 2007 first stage of restoration process of Castle.
Check also our other articles about Krakow:
KRAKOW CASTLES – WAWEL
Wawel is most important castle in this area – its royal castle, important stronghold, place of politics and wars. Wawel castle have more then 1000 of years, archaeologists says that Wawel hill was seat of rulers from VII century.
Most precious castle which was most important in Polish Kingdom, because Krakow was Poland capital city. Its a place where many kings lived and ruled this country. Castle was rebuild numerous times, and inside you can find so many architectonic styles. Nowadays its open to tourists almost 365 days per year.
And how do you think which castle is more beautiful? Share your opinions in the comments about what happened to you in Krakow.