Oleśnica – the Piast Castle
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Oleśnica – the Piast Castle

A castellany was established in Oleśnica in the 13th century. The castle built on its place was the residence of the Dukes of Oleśnica. It was constructed probably in the 1320s (the previous name of the castle was Öls). The construction of the residence lasted almost a decade. The brick structure was built on an irregular quadrangle plan. There were 11 chambers in the two-tier main residential wing. The tower preserved from the grad (a type of medieval settlement) was the highest element of the complex. It was surrounded by defensive walls, was 20 m high and 11 m in diameter. The site covered 2000 m² and was surrounded by a moat. In 1492, due to the death of Konrad X the White, the last Piast from Oleśnica, the estate became the property of the Bohemian King, Vladislas II. The king sold the site to the Duke of Ziębice, Henry I, who was descended from the Poděbrady family. Later, the edifice belonged for a short time to the son, and then to the brother of the duke. The son, George, died after a year’s stay in the castle while the brother, Charles I, moved to a residence in Ząbkowice Śląskie, in 1522. On the initiative of John of Poděbrady, the son of Charles I, the Gothic castle was modernised and converted into a residence in the Renaissance style. The arrangement of the rooms in the residential part was changed at the time. Also, a four-tier palace with barbican, called the House of Widows was built at the time. An observation deck was added on the main tower. Another remodelling was carried out between 1585 and 1608, at the times of Duke Charles II. Two additional wings were built on to the structure, according to the design of the Italian architect, Bernard Niuron. The fortification was enhanced by the addition of a bastion. A gallery connecting the castle with the Church of Saint John the Baptist, spanning the moat, was created in 1616. Every owner of Oleśnica was buried in the church. A building, connecting the castle tower with the Palace of Widows (extended and  with a new staircase) was also erected. The elevations and the cloister were covered with the sgraffito decoration. After the death of the last member of the Poděbrady family, Duke Charles Frederick, the estate in Oleśnica was passed to the Wirtemberg family. A theatre auditorium and orangery were established in the building, on the order of Duke Christian Ulrich I; also the windows of the eastern wing were enlarged and the park was established in the vicinity. New residential rooms were created and the coping of the tower, along with the cloister, were refurbished in the later period. After the death of the last Wirtemberg duke, Charles III Christian, the Duke of Braunschweig - Frederick Augustus became the owner of the estate. Under Frederick Augustus, the structure underwent changes in décor and the function of some of the rooms. Between 1891 and 1905, the building was modernised, according to a design by Joseph Maas. The alterations were part of the preparation for a takeover by Emperor William II. A new gate was constructed, the main tower was topped with a new spire, the sgraffito decorations were refurbished, part of the cloister was demolished and new alleys were allotted in the park. The castle was not significantly damaged during World War II. Prisoners of war were kept in the building after the war. Later, the building housed, among others, a technical building institute, depots and a subsidiary of the Museum of Archaeology in Wrocław. The last renovation works were carried out between 1970 and 1976.

The castle is currently the property of the State Treasury and it houses the residence of the Volunteer Labour Corps. The decoration of the walls, that is the banisters, the portals, the cloisters and the gatehouse (with fragments of the Biblical verses carved in 1603) have survived to this day. On the old barbican, converted into a gate, one can see the blazoned symbols of the Silesian Piasts and the Poděbrady family. The so-called ‘House of the Widows’ houses hotel apartments.

 

Contact:

The Educational Centre of the Volunteer Labour Corps (Centrum Kształcenia i Wychowania OHP)

ul. Zamkowa 4, 56 – 400 Oleśnica

tel. 71 314-20-12

www.hm.pl/zamki/zamki/olesnica.html

 

How to get there:

Oleśnica is located 30 km on north-west of Wrocław. One can get there by road no. 8, to Piotrków Trybunalski. The monument is situated in the western part of the Old Town, behind the church. PKP and Polbus connections are available. The walk from the main PKP station to the castle takes about 15 minutes.

 

Visting:

Visiting is possible by prior agreement. The Wirtemberg vault (situated in the  church by the castle) is open to visitors by prior arrangement with the parish chancellery (visiting possible only in the organized groups).

 

Parking:

One can park in the vicinity of the castle.

 

Places to eat:

Restauracja Pasta e basta

ul. Paderewskiego 5j, 56 – 400 Oleśnica

tel. 502-434-526

www.pastaebasta.pl

A contact form is available on the website.

 

Pierogarnia Stara Chata

ul. Daszyńskiego 5E, 56 – 400 Oleśnica

tel. 71 723-00-11

www.starachata.info

e-mail: biuro@starachata.info

 

Hotel i Restauracja Vis - a  -  Vis

ul. Przemysłowa 3c, 56 – 400 Oleśnica

tel. 71 399-00-99, 602-260-590

www.visavis-hotel.pl

e-mail: biuro@visavis-hotel.pl

 

Accommodation:

Hotel Perła

ul. Sinapiusa 12, 56 – 400 Oleśnica

tel. 71 314-35-19

www.hotelperla.pl

e-mail: hotel@hotelperla.pl

 

Hotel i Restauracja Vis - a  -  Vis

ul. Przemysłowa 3c, 56 – 400 Oleśnica

tel. 71 399-00-99, 602-260-590

www.visavis-hotel.pl

e-mail: biuro@visavis-hotel.pl

 

Pokoje gościnne, kwatery

ul. Różana 11, 56 – 400 Oleśnica

tel. 605-481-425

There is no website or e-maill address available.

 

Tourist Information Office:

The Meeting Point Centre of Tourist Information (Centrum Informacji Turystycznej The Meeting Point)

Rynek 14, 50 – 101 Wrocław

tel.: 71 344-31-11/ 12

www.um.wroc.pl

e-mail: info@itwroclaw.pl