Książ Castle – From Gothic Whimsy To Nazi Terror (History & Travel Tips)

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Książ Castle is often referred to as the “pearl” of Poland and sits majestically on its hilltop perch. It’s surrounded by dense woods, with turrets that fly high enough to touch some of the low flying clouds. It’s an absolute fairytale of a castle, but appearances aside, it belies a highly interesting (and sometimes dark) history. Here’s everything you need to know about it:

Mary Theresa “Daisy” or Princess of Pless was the last known resident of the castle who was evicted by the Nazis. It is said that her spirit still haunts the castle.

The courtyard of Książ Castle
The courtyard of Książ Castle. Scotch Mist, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

Dating Back To Original Times (13th Century Onward)

The location of the Książ Castle is a peculiar one – admired for its defensive geography and altitude. The very first fortification built on this site can be traced back to as early as 1263 but was destroyed by Bohemian invasions. The castle was then built again in 1288 on the order of Bolko I, the Duke of Lwówek. The construction was completed in 1292 and Książ became the residence of the Duke.

A 1737 rendering of Książ Castle.
A 1737 rendering of Książ Castle. Friedrich Bernhard Werner, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Dating Back To Original Times (13th Century Onward)

The location of the Książ Castle is a peculiar one – admired for its defensive geography and altitude. The very first fortification built on this site can be traced back to as early as 1263, but was destroyed by Bohemian invasions. The castle was then built again in 1288 on the order of Bolko I, the Duke of Lwówek. The construction was completed in 1292 and Książ became the residence of the Duke.

An 1848 rendering of Książ Castle.
An 1848 rendering of Książ Castle. National Library of Poland, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

With The Hochbergs (16th Century Onward)

Książ Castle was destroyed in a fire circa 1482. The resulting refurbishment and reconstruction led to its new form – one that we can recognize even today. This is when it was occupied by the Hochberg family (one of the wealthiest clans in Prussia). Instead of using the ancestral fortress-style architecture, they instead converted the castle into a grand residence. 

Many generations of the Hochberg family lived at Książ Castle. It was passed from generation to generation from the 16th century – until 1944. That’s when it was seized by the Nazis.

The magnificent interior and rich detailing of the castle’s interior.
The magnificent interior and rich detailing of the castle’s interior.

Książ Castle was destroyed in a fire circa 1482. The resulting refurbishment and reconstruction led to its new form – one that we can recognize even today. This is when it was occupied by the Hochberg family (one of the wealthiest clans in Prussia). Instead of using the ancestral fortress-style architecture, they instead converted the castle into a grand residence. 

Many generations of the Hochberg family lived at Książ Castle. It was passed from generation to generation from the 16th century – until 1944. That’s when it was seized by the Nazis.

The cozy dining area of Ksiaz Castle.
The cozy dining area of Ksiaz Castle. Ksiaz Castle, Poland / Zamek Książ flickr photo by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Pol shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

Current Times

Książ Castle was eventually taken over by the Russian Red Army and the Nazis never got to complete their subterranean project. The Russians plundered the castle and destroyed many of the documents, which is why there’s little to no information about the Riese Project. 

Książ was used as a cultural center by the communist authorities and it finally became the property of the Walbrzych district government in 1991. Today, it’s teeming with tourists and is known as the “pearl” of the city it resides in.

A view if Ksiaz Castle from afar showing the castle and its wide grounds.
A view if Ksiaz Castle from afar shows the castle and its wide grounds. Książ Castle flickr photo by jcubic shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Interesting Książ Castle Facts

  • Mary Theresa “Daisy” or Princess of Pless was the last known resident of the castle who was evicted by the Nazis. It is said that her spirit still haunts the castle.
  • The Riese Project cave complex is one of the biggest mysteries of Książ Castle. Its status was Top Secret at the time, and few to none documents are available to disclose all its details. It’s speculated that the castle might have become Hitler’s headquarters had the complex been completed.
  • The Riese Project led to the Książ Castle becoming a great attraction for treasure seekers and hunters. Local legends say that the complex contains hidden Nazi trains that contain valuable art pieces and gold. However, they’ve all been booby-trapped with hidden weapons. Each year, several treasure hunters come to seek it with their odd ends and baubles.
  • Recently, rare 1930s era pictures of the castle have been returned. They were actually tourist souvenirs from when it first opened and show the castle’s condition from back then.
  • It is said that the library of Książ Castle consisted of 64,000 volumes before it was plundered by the Russian forces.

Visiting Książ Castle – Tips and Tricks

Książ Castle is not only a great tourist asset but also a beautiful place to spend some time. Steeped in rich history and brimming with character, it’s an excellent destination to put on your itinerary when in Poland. Here’s some important information to use when visiting:

Ksiaz Castle surrounded by visiting tourists.
Ksiaz Castle is surrounded by visiting tourists.

How to get to Książ Castle?

It’s easy to get to Książ Castle from the capital city of Warsaw. You can take a train from the Wroclaw station to the Walbrych-Miasto station. The journey will take approximately an hour and a half at the cost of 15 ZLOTY ($4 USD). From there, you can take the No. 8 or 12 bus to the castle. You can also cover the 70km drive from Wroclaw on your car. Taxis are relatively expensive at 20-30 ZLOTY ($5-$8 USD).

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

Visiting hours of Książ Castle vary all year round. From June to August, it can be visited between 9:00 am to 6:00 pm all week. From April to May and September to October, timings from Monday to Friday are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, while visiting hours are extended to 6:00 pm on weekends. From November to March, you can visit the Książ Castle between 10:00 am to 3:00 pm Monday to Friday, and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on the weekends. 

A single ticket for an adult costs 45 ZLOTY ($12 USD), which raises to 65 ZLOTY ($17 USD) if you get an audio-guide headset.

The stunning night view of Ksiaz Castle.
The stunning night view of Ksiaz Castle. Książ Castle at blue hour flickr photo by jcubic shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

It takes around 2-3 hours to explore Książ Castle and grounds fully.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • Always check Książ Castle’s opening schedule if you’re planning to visit on a Monday, as that’s the day reserved for maintenance – especially through January, February, March, November, and December.
  • You can carry out photography sessions at the castle terraces for a price of 250 ZLOTY ($63 USD).
  • A guided tour of the castle can be arranged for a group of fewer than 15 people.

Quick Video Tour of The Main Książ Castle Areas

Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira is an architect and designer on paper, but a writer at heart. She’s got a Bachelors in Architecture and a passion for traveling, both of which combine in her writings about timeworn castles and fortresses that have withstood the tests of time and stand proud to this day.

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