Castles and palaces of the Opole region
Opolskie – the smallest voivodeship in Poland, but how rich in traditions & culture! Its turbulent history dates back to the oldest times – it was there where the first dinosaur skeleton in the world was discovered. But the real magic of this extraordinary region is enchanted in the numerous castles, manors, and palaces. Many of them captivate their fairy-tale character, inviting their guests to the restored interiors, quite often functioning as a hotel or restaurant. Thanks to a study tour organized by the Opole Regional Tourist Organization at the end of June, we had the opportunity to meet the unique ones. Let us introduce you to the best traces of our unusual discoveries.
The history of the area goes back to prehistoric times: between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD, it was a part of the Amber Route leading to ancient Rome. The first stories about the building come from the 14th century when prince Boleslaw built a stone castle in the place of an earlier wooden fortification. From this period, the medieval gate tower has remained topped with a cupola with a characteristic shooting window added during the Renaissance reconstruction. At that time, the residence also gained an arcaded courtyard, which a few years ago charmed a Polish director Jan Jakub Kolski, who set there the story of one of the most magical films in Poland “Jasminum”.
The seat got two new wings in the baroque period, a chapel, and four corner towers with secret passages underneath. The castle walls and hidden dungeons are an inspiration for many legends, handed down from generation to generation by the local residents. The most famous is about the White Lady, a bride who died on her wedding day. The legend states that she walks around the castle to this day and shows up to the tourists from time to time. Who knows, maybe you will also have a chance to see her? If not, then a visit to the nearby Restauracja na Wyspie (Restaurant on the Island) will cheer you up. The chef’s specialty – carp in the Niemodlin style – is pure poetry!
Palace and hotel Jakubus in Jakubowice
Jakubus is a place where nature meets modernity and inspires active recreation. You will find three hotel facilities in this unique complex: a historic palace, rooms over the stable, and a hotel behind the park. The palace is a restored neoclassical manor house from 1882. Its founder (and first owner) was Karl Ernst Moritz von und Gaffron Prittwitz, a Prussian general and military engineer who headed the Poznan fortress’s construction.
Those who like the elegance combined with the beauty of the living world will love the hotel behind the park. It is equipped with a hall and a terrace with a panoramic view of the pastures with horses. Along with a riding school and a stable, these unique animals are the hotel complex’s most characteristic point. Jakubus is famous as the organizer of the international equestrian competition called Silesia Equestrian. It’s an excellent festival for horse sports enthusiasts, during which the best players from Poland and international countries compete for points to the Longines world ranking and high financial prizes. An integral part of the hotel establishment is also an extensive park and three ponds with a private beach. The idyllic atmosphere at your fingertips!
Castle of Silesian Piasts in Brzeg
Called the “Silesian Wawel”, a monumental, imposing castle with a centuries-old history. Its story has begun in the first half of the 13th century, but the present form was shaped in the renaissance time. Rebuilding between 1530 and 1580 by Italian architects, it has become one of the most magnificent castles of this type in central and eastern Europe.
It consists of three buildings with cloisters surrounding the castle courtyard. The most precious part is the stone facade’s artistic decoration on the front door building, richly sculptured in arabesque, candelabrum motifs, and numerous human shapes.
In the second half of the 14th century, prince Ludwik I started collecting valuable works of art. It became soon one of the largest secular collections of the medieval period in Poland, which he donated to the castle collegiate church he founded. Sadly, this adjacent church was brutally terminated in 1741 by Prussian army incursion and has not regained its former splendor to this day.
Between 1966 and 1990, the castle was thoroughly rebuilt – many preservation works had been made, leading to the reconstruction of three-level galleries around the castle’s courtyard and decorations around window and door portals. Today, it’s a seat of the city museum where we can find the Silesian paintings from the 15th to the 17th century, 14th-century hunting bow, sarcophagi of princes, or a beautiful copy of the tile stove from 1545.
Castle’s interiors are also a home for the musical events, symposiums and meetings of people representing art and culture. True artistry is buzzing in the air!
Only 70 kilometers from Wroclaw airport, there is a beautiful neo-Gothic palace from the beginning of the 19th century, with two corner towers giving it a fairy-tale character. Do you know that its most famous and prominent owner was the King of Prussia, Frederick William III?
These days the palace, converted into a luxury hotel, also impresses with royal splendor. Each room is equipped with original, stylish furniture, which, together with natural materials and top-quality decorative elements, create coziness and home warmth. You can see there, among others, a chandelier from Sophia Loren’s apartment and a folding table that once stood in Mick Jagger’s Scottish castle, which he bought from Queen Elizabeth II herself!
However, exclusive interiors are not everything that you can find there: for complete relaxation, it is worth trying the benefits of Ayurvedic treatments, spa and yoga at the local Ayurvedic Medicine and Yoga Center. We especially recommend a full body massage with warm oil, which not only relaxes you, but also balances energy and increases the body’s vitality.
After a successful therapeutic session, it is worth referring to the local culinary tradition and tasting exquisite Polish cuisine in the palace restaurant. The menu is based on ecological, seasonal products that are often taken from the palace orchard, henhouse, apiary, and lake.
Fans of a little more active entertainment will be delighted with the almost 4-hectare park and the bathing area with a private sandy beach. The picturesque landscape is enriched by lakes with crystal clear spring water. No additional recommendations needed, right?
This imposing Gothic-Renaissance castle, located on a granite hill, was the residence of Wroclaw bishops. Some elements have survived from the old times: the unique “horse stairs”, a fireplace room with a hidden secret passage, coffered ceilings, and entablature decorated with polychrome made of natural dyes. Those fascinated by the Middle Ages’ dark side may found interesting a hunger cell, well or hidden trapdoors. Believe it or not, but this could be a really strong experience.
If you need to cool down the emotions, it’s worth climbing the castle tower to admire an unforgettable view of the surrounding forests, meadows, and the lake – the habitat of the gray heron.
The city itself also has many exciting places to offer, just to mention the atmospheric old townhouses, the 16th-century town hall, and the remains of defensive fortifications. A remarkable sight is the Church of St. Francis Xavier with frescoes by Michael Willmann, known as the “Silesian Rembrandt”. It’s an ideal place for people looking for a break from everyday worries and escape from the hustle and bustle of a big city.
Welcome to the biggest tourist attraction of the Opole voivodeship and one of Poland’s most famous residences. The Moszna Palace resembles a fairy-tale atmosphere straight from Walt Disney movies. It is famous for its 99 towers and 365 rooms. An extensive park surrounds the palace – take a walk to admire centuries-old oaks and limes, as well as more than a hundred years old azaleas. Summer walks among these beautiful flowers are one of the nicer local experiences.
According to the legend, the locality of Moszna belonged to the Order of the Temple in the Middle Ages. The knights supposedly built a castle there. Three major reconstructions shaped the palace in its present form. The oldest part was built in the second half of the 18th century. Over the next 200 years, the eastern and western wings were added, which created the characteristic fabulous architecture.
The castle belongs to the state treasury since 1945, after the last owners, the von Tiele-Wincler family, fled west for fear of the Red Army. For many years the Moszna Palace functioned as a sanatorium and hospital for people with mental disorders. In 2013, after some moderation, it opened the gates for tourists, becoming a museum.
The Piast Tower in Opole
Symbol of the city and one of the oldest monuments of defensive architecture in Poland. It’s the only trace of non-existent 13th-century Piast Castle built in 1217 on the site of an early medieval stronghold. The tower is a little bit younger – built in 1300 on the Oder island of Pasieka, as an extremely modern and monumental structure those days. Even today its 42 meters high, and walls up to 3 meters thick are still impressive.
Originally the Piast Tower had residential and defense functions, also serving as an excellent observation point. Today, after a complex renovation, visitors can attend a multimedia exhibition about Opole’s history, the Piast Castle, and the tower itself.
After detailed tower sightseeing, it’s worth exploring over 800 years of history of the Opole city. Having some free time, you should definitely see:
- the market square with the neo-Renaissance town hall,
- the cathedral,
- the upper castle from the end of the 19th century and the university hill.
It’s also worth visiting the Polish Song Museum, opened in 2016, which presents the history of Polish song from the 1920s to the present day.
During the calming walk, you cannot miss the city’s green lungs, Bolko Island with the Zoo and the local Venice – a boat trip on the Odra and Mlynowka will provide you an unforgettable experience.
Since we are talking about an exceptional experience… our discovery of the Opole region should not be completed without more down-to-earth experiences, like the Godyla vineyard, established in 2015, located on the southern hill of Pawlowicka Mountain. The local Solaris and Regent wine will steal the hearts not only enotourism enthusiasts! Especially in combination with a regional sweat, Silesian kolocz, a yeast dough with poppy seed, cheese or apple mousse filling. Plump, buttery, with a sweet crumble, it is an inseparable element of the best local tradition that is worth cultivating, not only during a tourist visit. Bon Appetit!