Pieskowa Skala Castle

 Pieskowa Skala Castle


Location: Peskowa Skala, Gmina Suloszowa


History of Pieskowa Skala Castle

Pieskowa Skala Castle is a former royal residence constructed for Casimir the Grea in the 14th century. It stands on a strategic Pieskowa Cliff (Skala in Polish). Pieskowa Skala Castle was constructed on a strategic hill by the orders of a Polish king Casimir the Great in the 14th century. It was intended both as a royal residence and as part of defensive military complex intended to protect borders of the Polish kingdom. Additionally it was used by garrison that protected local trade routes. From here Polish military could launch military operations to weed out robbers and criminals that attacked travelers.
Today Pieskowa Skala Castle is open to the public. It serves as a historic and art museum that holds a large collection with exhibits dedicated to history of Pieskowa Skala Castle. Museum is spread in four halls. One is dedicated to Early Medieval history, second to late Medieval period, third covers 16- 17th century and final room covers art of the 18th century.


The castle was first mentioned as Peskenstein in a document issued in 1315 by Władysław Łokietek. In the first half of the fourteenth century, Casimir III the Great built a castle here, an element of the defensive chain of the Eagles' Nests, consisting of two parts: upper and lower. The upper one, not preserved, was erected on an inaccessible rock called "Dorotka".

In the years 1377–1608 the castle was the seat of the Szafraniec family, whose known representative was the Kraków voivode Piotr Szafraniec. Some later members of the family dealt with ruffianism and used the castle as a starting point for attacks on merchants passing through the road running through the Prądnik Valley connecting Kraków with Silesia. In 1484, Krzysztof Szafraniec, great-grandson of the first owner, was beheaded in Wawel.

In the years 1542–1580 the Gothic castle was transformed into a Renaissance residence. In the 17th century, during the time of Michał Zebrzydowski, a bastion fortification system was added. During the Swedish invasion (1655) the castle was destroyed, and in 1718 it was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt as the seat of the Wielopolski family in 1768. In 1787 it hosted King Stanisław August Poniatowski. As a result of another fire (1850), the oldest part was destroyed - the high castle.

There was the municipality of Pieskowa Skała in the Kingdom of Poland.

In 1842, Count Jan Mieroszewski bought Pieskowa Skała from the Wielopolski family.

During the January Uprising on March 4 and 5, 1863, two battles of insurgents under the command of Marian Langiewicz with Russian troops took place in Pieskowa Skała and nearby Skała. During these fights, the Ukrainian revolutionary, Russian army colonel Andriy Potebnia, died fighting on the side of the Poles. Aleksander Zdanowicz commanded the defense of the castle itself. After the insurgents retreated, the Russians took over the castle.

In the 1880s, another of the Mieroszewskis - Sobiesław, carried out renovation works in the castle, enriching him with neo-Gothic elements. Count Krzysztof Mieroszewski, known for his thriving lifestyle - son of Sobiesław squandered his family estate, selling, among others, the castle. Soon a new owner, Michał Wilczyński, sold the castle to dr. Serafin Chmurski, who built villas at his feet, trying to give Pieskowa Skała a summer character. In 1902, due to the debt of the property of Serafin Chmurski, the last private owner of Pieskowa Skała, the castle was auctioned.

Adolf Dygasiński appealed in "Kurier Warszawski" to save the castle, the pearl of the Polish Renaissance, the only one on the trail of the Eagles' Nests that survived in good condition. Thanks to this initiative, the "Akcja Pieskowa Skała" Association was founded, which bought the castle for 60,000 rubles.

After World War II, the castle in Pieskowa Skała was taken over by the State Treasury, after a general renovation in the years 1950–1963, it became a branch of the Wawel State Art Collections. Currently, it houses a permanent exhibition "Style changes in European art from the Middle Ages to the mid-nineteenth century." The castle appears in movies, including in the series Janosik and Stawka larger than life.

The crypts of the castle contain four mannerist sarcophagi of the Sieniawski family from the 17th century with figures of the deceased for centuries that have no equivalent in Polish art, the work of the Wrocław sculptor Jan Pfister. Originally they were in one of the greatest Polish mausoleums in the castle chapel in Brzeżany in Podolia. After 1945, the church and chapel in the Brzeg castle were completely devastated. These sarcophagi were successfully transported to Krakow during the Polish-Russian war of 1920.

A landscape park adjoins the castle. Nearby is a limestone rock called the Hercules Mace, Devil's Rock or Sokolica.

At the foot of the hill on which the castle rises, there is a complex of five flow ponds founded in the 16th century. Carp, pike and crucian carp were bred there, followed by rainbow trout. In 1993, breeding ceased. Currently, they are a refuge of amphibians in the Ojców National Park (common newt, great crested newt, common toad, green toad, grass frog, tree frog, toad). Amphibians mate in them, migrating from wintering grounds sometimes distant up to 3 km. During these migrations, the amphibian migration route is protected by volunteers and park employees who carry animals through the road next to them.