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The Eagles’ Nests are Gothic, fortified structures perched on rock massifs of Kraków-Częstochowa Jurassic Region of limestone hills and rocks. It is one of the most interesting, especially in terms of nature, tourist regions of the country. It stretches across southern Poland and covers an 80-kilometer belt between Kraków and Częstochowa. The local landscape is distinguished by castles built in Medieval times, though now most of them are ruins. The fortified castles perched on high rocks in Jura like eagles' nests hence their name. 

 

These former border strongholds were built in very hard-to-reach places and were perfectly integrated into the massive limestone inselbergs, so they formed an inseparable whole with the Jurassic hills. That is why for centuries they were as difficult to conquer, unattainable as the habitats of wild birds, and were an important defence link for the country.

 

There is a special tourist red trail of the Eagles’ Nests from Częstochowa to Kraków which has 163 km. The trail starts in the centre of Częstochowa next to the Church of St. Zygmunt and ends near Wawel Castle in Krakow. Almost the entire trail leads through a very diversified, rocky terrain with many natural and historical peculiarities. There are also many historic churches along the way.


The most important castles of the Eagles’ Nests:

 

Here you will find the descriptions of the most often visited by ITS Poland groups:


Wawel Royal Castle

The Wawel Royal Castle together with the Wawel Hill is one of the most historically and culturally significant places in Poland. Wawel was the seat of Polish rulers, their necropolis and the place where the history of Poland was shaped. One of the most important museums in Poland has been located here since 1930. The museum collects works of art historically or artistically related to Wawel, with Polish rulers, and great magnate collections. Just by the castle there is also famous Wawel Cathedral. 


Jasna Góra Stronghold

Jasna Góra is a Pauline monastery and a stronghold. It is located in Częstochowa, a city lying about 125 km from Cracow, often referred to as the spiritual capital of Poland. Every year the sanctuary is visited by a few million pilgrims from all over the world. It is the most important pilgrimage site connected to Marian devotion of the famous painting of Black Madonna. The sanctuary has been run by the Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit since 1382. The painting has been famous through the ages for miracles and healings therefore, tourists can observe here many thanksgiving offerings. The sanctuary has been already visited by 3 popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and current pope Francis. The Bright Mountain as the sanctuary is called by the Poles offers much more to tourists: the beautiful basilica, cenacle, Knight’s Chamber, rampart, viewing tower antique Golgotha and museums: Treasury, Museum of 600 Years Anniversary, Treasure of National Memory, Armoury. Częstochowa is a place where you should spend at least one day during trips around Poland.


Pieskowa Skała

The building is located about 30 km from Kraków (about 50 min drive) and 60 km from Katowice (about 1 h drive). The Gothic building was erected in the first half of the 14th century and was one of the components of “the Eagle’s Nests” defensive complex. In years 1542-1580 it was transformed into a Renaissance residence. The castle history was very turbulent. During Polish-Swedish wars in 1655 the castle was heavily damaged, later on it also burnt 3 times. In the 80s of the 19th century the building gained some Neo-Gothic elements. After the World War II the palace became part of the National Museum. Currently, there are 3 exhibitions here: English Painting Gallery, Changes in Style of European Art from Medieval Times till Poland’s Twenty Years of Independence after the World War I; and Pieskowa Skała History. Visitors can admire here paintings, sculptures and furniture from Wawel Castle Museum, as the original interior design of the castle was lost. The castle is often called a pearl of renaissance. Just by the palace there is also a scenic park with the famous “Hercules Club” rock formation. Moreover, by the castle’s hill there are 5 picturesque ponds. The palace and its unusual natural surroundings should be visited by all those people who want to know Polish culture and history.


Mirów and Bobolice

Bobolice Castle is situated in Bobolice 44 km from Częstochowa, 64 km from Katowice and 89 km from Kraków. Original castle was built in the 14th century in so called Eagle’s Nests greater fortification system. The castle prosperity ended in 1657 when the stronghold was destroyed by Swedes. During Swedish wars in the 17th and 18th centuries the castle become a ruin. In the 19th century in Bobolice Castle a great treasure was discovered and afterwards treasure hunters completed process of castle destruction. Luckily, in the end of the 20th century the Lasecki’s family started the magnificent reconstruction of the monument. The castle was reopened in 2011. Currently, tourists can sightsee the castle with guides. While visiting the area, it is also worth to visit Mirów castle ruins which are only 1.2 km from Bobolice castle. The castle in Mirów is also currently being rebuilt by the same owner. Moreover, climbing enthusiasts will find lots of perfect rock formations to practice this adrenalin rising sport.


Ogrodzieniec

The castle was erected in the 14th-15th century. The last inhabitants left the castle in 1810 and since then it is a very picturesque ruin. It is located at the highest peak at Jurassic Kraków-Czestochowa Region at 515.5 m above sea level. The castle has perfect location among limestone rocks which additionally protect the stronghold. Almost all parts of the building are available to tourists. There are exhibitions in an armoury, a torture chamber and there is also a castle museum exhibition. In the courtyard there are market stalls with souvenirs and in the castle basements there is also Knight Restaurant. In the castle there are many events organized, such as concerts, knight tournaments and ghost spectacles. It is a place really worth visiting while being in central Poland.


Olsztyn

The castle was built in the system of Eagles’ Nests in former town, nowadays village Olsztyn. The first information about the castle in this place comes from 1306. Still, the castle existed here even earlier. In the fifteenth century, the so-called the lower castle was built, which was probably extended in the next century. At that time, the castle played a significant role in repelling attacks of Silesian dukes which is why it was further expanded. Next, it was rebuilt several times due to the crumbling of the walls due to rock landslides. At the beginning of the 17th century the castle lost its importance and its conditioned worsened. During Polish-Swedish wars, the Swedes ruined the castle and burned the city down. Since then the castle has been only attractive and beautifully located ruin. The walls of the residential part of the castle have survived to this day, as well as the cylindrical (tower) and square (Starościańska) towers, fragments of the walls of farm buildings, partly also cellars and foundations of the smithy and traces of smoke houses has been discovered during archaeological research. The ruin is available to tourists.


Ojców 

The castle ruins belong to the Eagles’ Nests fortifications. They are located on the Castle Summit in the Ojców National Park in Kraków-Czestochowa Jurassic Region. In the early Iron Age, there was a Lusatian settlement on the site of the castle, presumably destroyed by the Scythian invasion. The castle was erected at the order of the king Casimir the Great in the second half of the 14th century. Nowadays, only the octagonal tower, the gate and the lower parts of the perimeter walls have survived. Ojców Castle is maintained and owned by Ojców National Park. The castle buildings are available for tourists all year long: a room with a small historical exhibition in the gate tower room, the castle square with a well and the hill in front of the defensive tower, the defensive tower and the viewing platform.

 

Eagles’ Nests are a dozen or so castles testifying to the former power, glory and ambitions of Medieval Poland. They are also a visible proof of turbulent history of the Polish nation. Discovering this tourist trail is an excellent idea for all tourists arriving to Cracow. It is an experience that you won’t regret. Discover this one of the richest regions in Poland in terms of castles with ITS Poland DMC your local travel agent.

 

Author: Agnieszka Szwedzińska

Date 30.01.2021

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