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Oświęcim Castle

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Brief History of the Castle in Oświęcim

The roots of the Oświęcim castle date back to the ancient medieval times, when a stronghold in Oświęcim was built on a hilltop overlooking the River Sola. The first mention of this building is from the early twelfth century when it is referred to as a stronghold. Prince Casimir gained ownership over the stronghold, rebuilding it and strengthening it, transforming the stronghold into a castle. To this day, there are still preserved traces of the oldest defensive walls surrounding the castle hill. In the mid-thirteenth century, the castle was destroyed during the Tatar invasion, and then rebuilt by Prince Mischka II. At that time, the castle became a place of justice, being used as a place to performing death sentences of offenders.

In the mid-fifteenth century, the principality of Oświęcim was sold to King Casimir the Jagiellonian and from that moment, the king's castle governors managed the Castle. The king ordered the restoration of the castle and to strengthen its defense capabilities. It is believed that the castle in Oświęcim was one of the main residences of the king, and was frequently visited by many distinguished guests. Among them were the royal couple, along with there son, Prince Wladyslaw, Polish future Queen Bona Sforza, Sigismund Augustus' first wife - Elizabeth Habsburżanka and King Henry Valois.

The castle was heavily damaged during a great fire in 1503. Its reconstruction took many years and was very expensive. To pay for this, there were enforced unique taxes and fees, one of these taxes was for the usage of the bridge in Oświęncim, whose construction was confirmed by King Alexander Jagiello himself. Another blow to the condition of the castle was the invasion of the Swedes in the seventeenth century, when a fire again heavily damaged and partly destroyed the castle, this time the fire intentionally caused by the invader. After this time, the castle began to fall into disrepair, and despite attempts to determine a resolution, which would assist in the required and urgent restoration of the castle, it did not regain its former glory. Between 1805 and 1813 Oświęcim was hit by a great flood that damaged the castle hill and destroyed the walls and outbuildings. During the partition, the Austrian authorities, who were at that time governors of the castle, ordered it to be taken apart, but this plan was not implemented. The castle was again rebuilt twice in the early twentieth century and completely changed its appearance. The only surviving element, demonstrating the defensive nature of the castle is the Gothic tower of Oświęcim.

During World War II, the castle housed the headquarters of the German occupation authorities. At this time, there was dug a tunnel under the castle, which served as an air-raid shelter.

At the moment the castle is owned by Oświęcim Municipal Office, after a long process of reconstruction and maintenance of the buildings, the castle, is now open as a museum - The Castle Museum in Oświęcim.

 

Location and Other Attractions in the Area

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Oświęcim is located about 65km from Krakow, and the castle is in the center of the old town. Most people that come to Oświęcim are not aware of the town or of the historical importance as most visitors, here are coming to Auschwitz. Auschwitz is the "Germanized" name for Oświęcim.

Distances to Oświęcim and the Castle from:

Krakow:68km
Zakopane:128km
Oświęcim:2km

Other Attractions in the area:

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Auschwitz & Auschwitz Birkenau -Nazi's extermination camp in Poland. Auschwitz and Auschwitz II Birkenau are places that form a warning against the human aggression displayed in the acts that have taken place here.

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Zator is a small town about 20km from Oświęcim on the road number 28 towards Nowy Sącz. If you are driving to Krakow, then you will leave the road number 28 in Zator. 

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Kalwaria Zebrzydowska is a very important pilgrimage site in Poland, situated about 30km south-west of Kraków center. It was created as a faithful duplicate of Jerusalem. 

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Krakow historical city center is located 70km to the east of Oświęcim and can be reached by public transport from the parking place in front of the main museum of Auschwitz. 

 

Sightseeing of the Oświęcim Castle.

Opening Hours:

October and April:

  • Monday – Thursday: 10.00-16.00
  • Friday: 10.00-15.00
  • Saturday – Closed
  • Sunday: 11.00-15.00

May, June & September:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 10.00-16.00
  • Wednesday: 10.00-18.00
  • Friday: 10.00-15.00
  • Saturday- Closed
  • Sunday: 11.00-15.00

July and August:

  • Tuesday & Thursday: 10.00-16.00
  • Wednesday: 10.00-18.00
  • Friday: 10.00-15.00
  • Saturday& Sunday: 11.00-15.00
  • Monday-Closed

 

Prices for 2011:

Castle

  • Normal Ticket – 3zł
  • Reduced Ticket – 2zł
  • Family Ticket  – 8zł
  • Photograph surcharge  – 6zł

Tower

  • Normal Ticket – 3zł
  • Reduced Ticket – 2zł
  • Family Ticket – 8zł

 

For groups and for booking a guide in a foreign language place call. (+12 688 54 50, +12 688 54 52)

Address:

Muzeum – Zamek w Oświęcimiu
ul. Zamkowa 1
32-600 Oświęcim

Tel. (+33) 842 44 27

www.muzeum-zamek.pl

 

 

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