Poland has an incredible history and heritage, and its architecture reflects its magnificent past. But did you know Poland has some of the most impressive castles in Europe?
Poland is home to 500 castles, all with unique designs that reveal its rich and diverse history. Some are UNESCO World Heritage sites, while others range from medieval castles to those that look like they are in a fairytale!
In this post, I’ll go through:
- The history of Poland’s castles
- Visiting castles in Poland
- The biggest castle in Poland
- The Royal castles in Poland
- The oldest castle in Poland
- The most beautiful castles in Poland
- Haunted Polish castles
- Castles you can stay at in Poland
Keep reading to find out more about Poland’s castles and their history.
About Poland – Super Quick Overview!
Poland, located in central Europe, is officially known as the Republic of Poland.
The country borders Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Germany, and its northern border runs along the Baltic Sea Coast.
It has a population of 38 million, and the capital city is Warsaw, which has a population of 1.7 million.
The official language is Polish, and the majority of the population is Roman Catholic.
History of Poland’s Castles
Poland has a long and rich history and has defended its sovereignty and freedom from foreign aggressors for over a thousand years.
Because of its location between the east and west, Poland has endured many wars and uprisings.
The Teutonic Order built many of Poland’s castles in the 13th century; a religious and military order made up of German priests, knights and lay brothers who attacked the Polish monarchy with force.
King Casimir III the Great, who ruled from 1333 to 1370, led the country to more prosperous times after many ongoing wars and initiated the building of some fairytale-looking castles.
Germany destroyed several of Poland’s castles during the Second World War, but when it ended, Poland rebuilt many castles to their former glory.
Visiting Castles in Poland
Today, tourists can explore hordes of castles in Poland as the country has hundreds to visit.
If you are only on a city break or are taking a road trip, you will find some of the best castles dotted about all over Poland.
Many of these castles have been preserved or restored and are home to museums, exhibition centers, and venues for events.
You can even stay in castle hotels at an affordable price, while ghost hunters can visit haunted castles.
Here we discover the history and legends of some of the most beautiful castles in Poland.
What is the Biggest Castle in Poland?
Malbork Castle is not only the biggest castle in Poland but also the world, covering an area of 52 acres and is by far the largest brick structure ever built by human hands.
Built by the Teutonic Knights of the German Military Order in the 1200s to maintain their influence in the area, this massive complex is constructed entirely from red brick.
It comprises three separate castles and is a masterpiece in fortification, housing up to approximately 3000 men at one point.
For centuries, Poland and Germany fought over Malbork Castle, with numerous battles and sieges taking place in and around the castle.
The compound was severely damaged during World War II and extensively rebuilt after the War ended, earning a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 1997.
The castle’s location is in the north of Poland on the banks of the Nogat River near the coastal city of Gdansk, a popular stop for cruise ships navigating the Baltic Sea.
It is an easy day trip for those staying in Gdansk or Gdynia, taking no more than an hour by train or car.
Kwidzyn Castle, located in Kwidzyn in northern Poland, forty miles from Malbork, was built in 1233 by the Teutonic Order and is the second-largest castle in Poland.
The castle connects to a cathedral as a single defensive architectural complex that contains the tombs of bishops and three Grand Masters of the Teutonic Order.
Although the appearance of this beautiful complex has changed many times over the centuries, the one characteristic feature that has remained unchanged is the monumental sanitary tower.
The castle is now a museum housing a collection of arts, crafts, archaeology, history, and nature.
Where are the Royal Castles Located in Poland?
Royal Castle, Warsaw
The Royal Castle in Warsaw was built in the 15th century as a wooden structure and was a residency of royal dukes until 1526.
When the capital of Poland was moved from Krakow to Warsaw in 1596, the Royal Castle served as the seat of the King and government, reconstructed to become one of Europe’s most splendid royal palaces.
From 1926, it served as the residency of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth president and the central office of the State Art Museum.
In September 1939, the Luftwaffe bombed the castle, and during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, the Nazis blew up the remaining structure of the building.
Reconstruction of the castle started in 1971 and took 13 years to complete.
The Royal Castle is one of the most recognized buildings in Warsaw, and you can tour the rooms where you can see two masterpieces by Rembrandt.
You can also visit temporary exhibits and enjoy the beautiful gardens.
Wawel Castle, Krakow
Wawel Castle is one of Poland’s most iconic and beautiful structures located on Wawel Hill overlooking Krakow.
The gothic-style castle, built in the 14th century, has been the residence of Polish monarchs, while Krakow was the capital of Poland.
UNESCO declared the castle the first ever UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978 as part of the Historic Centre of Krakow.
The complex consists of several buildings, including Wawel Cathedral, which is nearly one thousand years old, and the site of the coronation of Polish monarchs.
Beautifully preserved, Wawel Castle is one of Poland’s definite must-sees, with many interesting exhibits.
What is the Oldest Castle in Poland?
Lenno Castle dates back to the 10th century and is the oldest castle in Lower Silesia, a region in southwestern Poland full of historic towns, picturesque villages, vast forests, and snowy peaks.
Located above the town of Lenno, Lenno Castle is also the oldest brick building in Poland and most likely the oldest castle in the country.
It was once the favorite home of Henry the Bearded and his wife, Duchess Jadwiga, later canonized in 1267 by the Catholic Church.
Other castle residents have included princes, knights, noble families, and even robbers!
The castle has been expanded over the years but was besieged by the Swedish army and the Holy Roman Empire during the 30-year War when it was set on fire in 1646, lying as a ruin ever since.
Renovations started in 2009, opening to the general public in 2018, with its most famous attraction being the torchlit nighttime tours of the grounds and surrounding forests.
What are the Most Beautiful Castles in Poland?
Poland boasts many beautiful castles, but the candy-colored Ksiaz Castle, with its captivating forest surrounding, is like something out of a fairytale.
However, there is more to this breathtaking castle than sheer beauty, as its history tells of chilling Nazi stories and secret tunnels.
Ksiaz Castle is often referred to as the ‘pearl’ of the Lower Silesia region and sits on an impressive cliff top, approximately 70 kilometers from Wroclaw.
Its origins trace back to the 13th century, built by order of Bolko I the Strict, the Duke of Lwowek, and rebuilt in the Renaissance style during the 16th century.
The Hochberg family, one of the most influential and wealthiest families in Prussia, resided in the castle for several generations until it was seized in 1944 by the Nazis and later occupied by the Red Army.
Visitors to the castle can explore the secret Nazi tunnels built by prisoners from the nearby Gross-Rosen concentration camps, who dug the tunnels in inhumane conditions.
Lancut Castle is one of Poland’s most magnificent aristocratic residences, renowned for its beautiful interiors and interesting collection of horse-drawn carriages and surrounded by a beautiful garden.
Situated in the small town of Lancut in Southeast Poland near the border with Ukraine, it is one of the few castles in Poland that survived World War II.
Lancut town goes back to the early Middle Ages, founded in 1349 during King Casmir the Great’s reign, with the castle built during the 16th century.
Between 1629 and 1642, the castle belonged to Stanisław Lubomirski, a Polish nobleman.
Lancut Castle went through significant renovations changing to a palace-manor style with fortifications around, which saved the building on numerous occasions when the area was under attack.
The castle served as the headquarters of Wehrmacht, saving it from destruction, unlike other Polish castles.
After World War II, Lancut Castle became a museum; some rooms are incredible, and the carriage collection consists of one hundred carriages.
While the castle and the grounds are the main attraction, you can also visit the local synagogue, a real masterpiece built in 1761 and a fine example of the Jewish heritage in Poland.
Can You Stay in a Castle in Poland?
If you want something different from your average hotel, then spending a night or two in a castle could be a unique experience.
Kliczkow Castle stands in the tiny village of Kliczkow among the Lower Silesia forests.
It is reminiscent of some of the famous chateaus in France.
Originally built as a defensive castle in 1297, it became a castle and manor house after reconstruction by the von Rechenberg family, adapting it to changing times.
The complex consisted of twenty chambers, two ballrooms, two courtyards, a court hall and several outbuildings.
The castle has changed hands several times, but its present appearance results from reconstruction commissioned by Count Frederick Zu Solms-Baruth.
The castle had new towers, an eight-hectare park with a mausoleum and a cemetery for horses, among many other elements still admired today.
Today it is a luxury hotel and conference center with a restaurant, spa, tennis courts and an equestrian center.
Czocha Castle, located in the small village of Czocha in Lower Silesia, western Poland, is a medieval castle full of secrets and legends.
The castle, built as a fortress during the 13th century, has endured centuries of political turbulence, destroyed by a fire in the 18th century.
Restoration began in the late 1990s, returning the castle to its former glory.
Visitors can tour the castle, famed as the Polish Hogwarts, and take a peek inside the stunning Marble Hall with its infamous fireplace and wall paintings.
Discover secret doors in the library where legend has it that one male owner disposed of his wives through one of the doors!
Climbing to the lookout tower is a must, where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the nearby forests and Kwisa River.
Visitors can stay the night in any one of the forty rooms, with a castle tour included in the price.
However, due to the castle’s historical character, ten rooms are without bathrooms, while the building also has seven special themed rooms.
Are There Haunted Castles in Poland?
Niedzica Castle, built in 1325 by the Brezevichy family, is located in southern Poland and is one of the country’s most haunted sites.
A small sign leading up to the castle features a ghostly caricature warning visitors they are approaching a haunted location, as legend has it that the ghost of a woman appears nightly.
One of the first castle owners, Sebastian Brezevichy, traveled to Peru in South America and married a woman named Umina, an Inca royal.
After the war between Spain and Peru, the couple returned to Niedzica, bringing with them the Inca treasure.
The legend is that a treasure-hunting thief murdered Umina in front of the castle.
Her ghost now appears at night to scare anyone near the castle to protect her gold.
For those brave enough, you can opt to stay overnight in one of the rooms and see if you can get a glimpse of “The white lady of Niedzica Castle!”
Poland has so many magnificent castles to explore in picturesque locations.
You can easily visit these beautiful structures on a trip to Poland, whatever the duration of your vacation.