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Castle of Czocha

Castle of Czocha, Poland toursPerched dramatically on the tall rocks near the Polish-German border is the castle of Czocha, a very old and very impressive fortress, with as interesting a history as one can expect from a building erected in 1247. The rocky peninsula created by a weaving river Kwisa (or Queis in German) seemed custom-made to support a medieval fortress in a region that has always been a border between some countries (like the Czech Kingdom, the Holy Roman Empire, the Polish Crown, assorted local duchies and, frankly, more political entities than it even makes sense to list here ; after all, 1247 was a long time ago). The first fortress, built by order of the Czech king Vaclav the 1st, was a small military structure with several-storey living quarters and a round tower which even now remains standing.

The 14th century saw some changes, a few renaissance structures added to the main complex and the outer walls erected. About a century later, in 1433, while the owner of the time was journeying abroad, a locally famous bandit, Hans von Tschirn, conquered the castle with his armed band of robbers, and made it his headquarters for almost a year. The owner had to pay mercenaries to help him regain his own home, which must have been embarrassing. Actually, wounded pride seems to be something of a leitmotif of the castle, because in the inner courtyard there is a well called “well of unfaithful wives” where at least two owners are known to have drowned their, yes, unfaithful wives.

Over its almost eight hundred years long history the castle was owned by various rulers and noble families of the aforementioned countries and took part in various military conflicts. In the 18th century a fire destroyed much of the interiors, by then very old and valuable. It was rebuilt quickly, but without much attention paid to architectural styles, and so the medieval tower gained a baroque roof. In 1909, it was bought by a rich tobacco manufacturer as part of his social-climbing efforts, and re-fashioned to match some drawings made in 1703. It was then that some of the oldest surviving parts of the structure were destroyed.

When World War Two came, it naturally brought its own stories. There is reason to believe that some of the secret, underground armaments workshops and laboratories – which the Nazis seem to have made basically everywhere – were built in the vicinity of the castle ; tales abound of some mysterious experiments with weapons and equipment which produced such powerful electromagnetic fields that cars approaching the castle would stop, the engines malfunctioning. German cryptologists were also trained here – a regular school of Abwehr coders stationed in the castle.

Today, the castle is open to visitors as well as available to rent for private events. The interesting mixture of styles makes it a quite versatile scenery: the castle was used in filming a few WW2 motion pictures as well as, say, The Witcher film, and recently housed a large international Live-Action Roleplay event in the Harry Potter setting.

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