Living castles

Prądnik Valley in the Ojców National Park. In the background, the castle in Pieskowa Skała, houses in the distance.
Different size castles, ruins of medieval fortresses and aristocratic residences from the era of Renaissance and Baroque can be found at every turn in Małopolska. Built on high hills and visible from afar, they constitute one of the most characteristic features of the region’s landscape.

The greatest attraction is of course the Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków. Together with the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Stanisław and Vaclav, they create a unique example of historic built heritage. Also well known are the Jurassic castles, referred to as Eagles’ Nests on account of their location on top of rocky peaks. Most of them were built by order of King Casimir the Great along the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland, creating a fortified route protecting the kingdom’s boarders from the side of Silesia. Most castles on the Trail of the Eagles’ Nests fell into ruin, but there are some that were fully preserved, such as the marvellous Renaissance residence in Pieskowa Skała, or reconstructed, such as the enchanting knights’ fortress in Korzkiew. Many castles can also be found in the Carpathian Mountains among the mountain ridges of the Beskidy or on the foothills. The Dunajec Castle in Niedzica and the Wronin Castle in Czorsztyn situated by the Czorsztyn Lake in the Pieniny Mountains are the most beautiful and famous ones. While exploring the Carpathian Foothills, you can also visit the wonderful palazzo in fortezza, that is the Nowy Wiśnicz Castle – a beautiful late-Gothic castle in Dębno, or the castle in Wieliczka, whose history is entwined with the famous local salt mine. It is also worth visiting the Renaissance residences in Niepołomice and Sucha Beskidzka, which merit the name of “the Small Wawel”.


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