Tenczyn Castle (Zamek Tenczyn)

Tenczyn Castle


Location: Rudno, Kraków County   Map

Constructed: 1319


Tenczyn Castle or Teczynski  Castle is a medieval citadel situated in a village Rudno, Kraków County in Poland. It was constructed in 1319 by a Polish aristocratic Tęczyński family. The castle became a prison for Władysław Jagiełło, king of Poland, after he was defeated by the Teutonic knights at the Battle of Tannenberg (Bitwa pod Grunwaldem). One of the towers that was claimed to be the prison cell of the monarch is called Grunwaldzka in his honor. Teczynski Castle was besieged by the Swedish soldiers in 1655 and taken. They burned it down and left it in ruins. The castle was abandoned and in 1798 a lighting strike caused fire and further demolished the structure.


The first mention of the vicinity of the Tenczyn castle is dated September 24, 1308. At that time Władysław Łokietek with a knighthood unit residing in the forests in Thanczin issued a document for the Cistercian monastery in Sulejów. It is assumed that the first (wooden) castle was built around 1319 by the Kraków castellan Nawój from Morawica. He erected the largest tower in the castle, still known as the "Nawojowa Tower". The proper creator of the stone castle was the son of Nawoj, Jędrzej (Andrzej), the voivode of Kraków and Sandomierz. On the highest, north-eastern part of the hill, he erected a further fragment of the castle where he lived and died in 1368. He also took the first name Tęczyński. Jędrzej's son, Jaśko, renovated and significantly expanded the castle, and founded a chapel. The first mention of the castle directly in historical documents comes from this period. Władysław Jagiełło imprisoned in him some of the most important Teutonic prisoners of war, captured during the Battle of Grunwald.

In a short time, the Tęczyński family came to great importance. Tęczyński owned 45 towns, including 15 near the castle. Around the mid-sixteenth century, the castle was often visited by: Mikołaj Rej from Nagłowice, Jan Kochanowski, Piotr Kochanowski and other important figures of the Polish revival. Until the mid-sixteenth century, the appearance of the castle did not change much. At that time, there were: a farm, a bathhouse, a brewery with a malt house and a washer house. In 1570, the Castellan of Wojnicz, the Great Crown Chamberlain Jan Tęczyński "walled the castle in Tenczyn again almost at great cost," wrote Bartosz Paprocki in the arms of Polish knights. The castle had three wings, open to the west, decorated with Renaissance attics, cornices and cloisters. The extension continued until the beginning of the 17th century. The castle and the borough were surrounded by a curtain wall, from the north it was reinforced with an entrance bastion (barbican), and from the south with two pentagonal bastions. Under the castle there were gardens (from the north) and vineyards (from the west and south). The last major investment in the castle was a thorough reconstruction of the castle chapel, made at the beginning of the 17th century by Agnieszka Firlejowa née Tęczyński, who later founded the monastery of the Discalced Carmelites in Czerna. In 1637, the Kraków voivode Jan Magnus Tęczyński, the last representative of the family, died. His only daughter Izabela got married to Łukasz Opaliński. In 1655, Grand Marshal of the Crown Jerzy Lubomirski, retreating to the Swedes, hid the crown treasury in Stara Lubovla in Spisz, but he spread the false news that the treasury was located in Tenczyn. The Swedish unit under the command of Kurt Christoph von Königsmarck besieged the castle in 1655 and after defending the crew under the command of infantry captain Jan Dziula accepted his surrender, but the Swedes failed to meet the conditions of the agreement and murdered the entire crew. After not finding the treasury of the crown, in July 1656 they left the castle and burned.

At the beginning of the 18th century, the Tęczno estate passed into the hands of Adam Sieniawski, the same way was obtained by the voivode of the Ruthenian lands, Prince August Czartoryski, and his daughter Izabela Lubomirska in turn. After the Swedish invasion, the castle was largely rebuilt and partly inhabited. In 1748/1768 it was destroyed by a lightning strike and since then it has fallen into ruin. In 1783, the ashes of the last of the Tęczyński family, Jan, were transferred from the castle chapel to a new grave in the church of St. Catherine in Tenczyn. From 1816, the castle became the property of the Potocki coat of arms of Pilawa and remained in their hands until the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the castle fell into ruin due to conflicts of competence between various levels of public administration. In 2008, the "Save Tenczyn" civic association was created to publicize the situation of the castle ruins and to force local and central authorities to fulfill their duty to protect the monument.

In 2009, a decision was issued on the annulment of the decision to withdraw the castle from the Potocki family as part of the land reform in 1944, but its implementation was suspended. In 2009, due to poor technical condition, the castle was closed to visitors. In 2010, the commune, being the administrator of the castle, obtained funds from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and began securing the ruins. Thanks to the work protecting the process of destroying the ruins, it was possible to stop.

In July 2016, as a result of an agreement concluded between the Krzeszowice Commune and the heirs of Count Adam. Potocki, the castle ruins were again opened to the public. The organizer of the tourist movement at the castle is the New Era Art Foundation for the Development and Promotion of Art.