The major tourist draw for Zagorze Slaskie, a small village in the Owl Mountains, are the ruins of the defensive Grodno Castle, raised in the 13th century by Prince Bolko the First. One of the most beautiful reservoir lakes in the Sudety Mountains, Bystrzyckie Lake, is yet another reason to visit Zagorze as it offers a bathing facilities as well as water equipment rental.
Built on the peak of Mt Choina (450 meters above sea level), Grodno Castle may be counted among the most impressive medieval castles in Poland, although it was once called ‘the abode of robbers’. The castle has a tower of considerable height from which you can enjoy a fantastic view of the mountains. Inside there is a museum that showcases exhibits relating to the castle’s history as well as oil paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries, cold steel weapons and a number of other interesting artefacts…
A lesser-known historic building in Zagorze Slaskie is the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, erected around the year 1500. It is of simple construction with a modest interior, but still worthy of a visit.
The dam of the Bystrzyckie Lake rises 44 meters and is 230 meters wide. Interestingly, in the where today is the lake, before the dam was built there was a village called Slaska Dolina, which disappeared under the waves in 1914 as the newly dammed waters rose. You can cross the lake by a hanging bridge or float over it in a kayak or on a water bike. In Zagorze Slaskie you can try out your winter sport skills, with numerous ski-lifts to take you up and gentle slopes to bring you back down again, especially suitable if you are a beginner.
Zagorze Slaskie is situated in the Lower Silesian Voivodship, close to the city of Walbrzych. This little village has 416 inhabitants and covers 912 ha, of which 282 ha is arable land and 506 ha are forested. It lies at a height between 360 and 380 m above sea level.
Located at the foot of the Black Mountains (a range of the Walbrzych Mountains), near the valley of the Bystrzyca River, Zagorze Slaskie extends for 1.8 km along the Jugowice-Swidnica route. Between the village and Bystrzyckie Lake is a ridge with three summits, known as Choina, Drzewica and Kurzetnik.
Zagorze Slaskie came into existence as a settlement connected with Grodno Castle. Since it had the same name as the castle it is not always clear whether the mentions in historic documents refer to the settlement or the castle. The majority are, however, about the castle.
What is known for certain is that in 1372 the farm at the foot of the castle was owned by Reintsche Schof. In the following centuries, Zagorze Slaskie remained a small settlement in the possession of the owner of the castle and the lands around it.
After the Duchy of Swidnica and Jawor had been taken over by the Czechs, the castle and the lands became private property, with frequent changes in ownership. During the Thirty Years’ War the castle was seized and plundered by the Swedes, and afterwards was inherited by Anna Katherine, daughter of Count von Hohenzollern, who resold the lands to a Leonhard von Tschirski and he in turn gave them away to baron Georg Gottfried von Eben.
The period following the Thirty Years’ War was very hard for peasants, including those from the villages surrounding the castle. They mutinied in 1679, when they refused to pay rent and besieged the castle. The peasants retreated only after they had been promised a lessening of the burdens imposed upon them.
In 1717 the widow of von Eben sold the lands to Alexandr Ludwig von Winterfeld and his heirs sold them to Otto Gottfried von Lieres of Wilkow in 1754. These frequent changes of owners caused the castle to fall into ruin and then in 1774 it was abandoned.
In 1785 the castle belonged to Otto Sigmund von Lieres, and by 1819 the building’s owners, was so encumbered with debts that the castle was divided into parts and sold by auction. This was a turning point in the history of Zagorze Slaskie and from this point on it began to develop more dynamically.
The village was later owned by a prefect of Krakow, Count von Zedlitz-Neukrich. His family started to rebuild the castle with the aim of making it accessible to visitors. The works began in the second half of the 19th century and were finished by the beginning of the 20th century. As a result, Grodno Castle became one of the most visited castles in Poland, with a museum and an inn, while the village itself began developing into a summer resort. Since 1904 Zagorze Slaskie has been even more attractive due to the new railroad from Swidnica to Jedlina Zdroj.