Castles, their stories may seem similar…built, ruined, family tragedy, conquered and then left to the elements only then to be rediscovered, re-imagined and restored. In their stories, there is always that one thing that separates them from the others and this was no different for Zamek Książ or Ksiaz Castle, one of the most mysterious Polish castles.
We drove into the grounds of Książ Castle (Zamek is Polish for castle) through the forest and even though it was winter and the forest was a little bare you could still see why the Royals picked this place for a home in the Polish landscape. I could easily imagine how beautiful it would look in the spring full of new growth and new life.
Książ Castle History
We would discover that Książ was originally a defensive fortress that was in the perfect spot on the river to see anyone coming down it to invade. From early records there was a fortification on the site of the castle from as early as 1263 but it was destroyed by Bohemian forces as they invaded Poland.
After it was destroyed another fortification was built and passed
through many conqueror’s and King’s hands. Families were raised, ruled countries and died in the castle. In 1482 the castle was again destroyed this time by fire and this is when the current style of the castle started to take shape.
After it was no longer needed as only a defensive structure that it was made into a grand home. Grand is a complete understatement, Książ Castle is simply stunning.
In WWII Ksiaz was taken by the Nazi’s when they invaded Poland and Adolf Hitler had grand plans for the magnificent castle. It was here that the castle became a nightmare for prisoners of war as they were forced built tunnels under the castle. Even with its beautiful and colourful exterior this is a section of the castles life that no one can understand or fully comprehend.
In 1945 the Red Army seized the castle back and some of the remaining rooms and many of the precious items inside were looted or simply taken to provide for families in the area. Some of the castle was also destroyed again during this time.
What about Ksiaz Castle now?
Since the end of the war there has been an extraordinary effort to get back the items that were taken and have some of the rooms fully restored incorporating these items. Ksiaz Castle is once again a treasure and glorious places with a history like no other.
Our guide was passionate about how well it is all going and it is people like him that inspire others to love a place like this just as much. As I said Ksiaz had been looted and many books, furniture and other items had been taken.
The library that it had was very extensive and so much was thought to be lost forever. It was with pride that our guide Marceij told us that 5 books had been returned to the castle from people who had them. Now they are back where they belong and hopefully, it inspires others that may have a book from Ksaiz Castle to return it as well.
It is an absolute delight that it not only survived these times but now it is being cared for by a legion of people dedicated to its full restoration.
Where is Książ Castle (Zamak Książ) in Poland?
Książ Castle (In German Schloss Fürstenstein) lies in Wałbrzych in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Poland. It was built in 1288-1292 under Bolko I the Strict. The Castles location is in a protected area called Książ Landscape Park in the Owl Mountains Poland
Ksiaz Castle opening hours
If you are planning on visiting Ksiaz Castle there are some things that you may need to consider before you make the trip there. To visit Ksiaz Castle in winter is very different to visiting Ksiaz in summer.
June – August
Monday – Sunday: 09.00 – 18.00
April – May, September – October
Monday – Friday: 09.00 – 17.00
Saturday – Sunday: 09.00 – 18.00
November – March
Monday – Friday: 10.00 – 15.00
Saturday – Sunday: 10.00 – 16.00
Castle Terraces are available for sightseeing from April to September
Times to be aware of when visiting Ksiaz Castle
You need to check if the day you plan to visit Ksiaz Castle is a Monday. On some Monday’s maintenance is preformed on the castle. These can include all the Mondays of January and the first Mondays of February, March, November and December
You will also find that Zamek Ksiaz is closed on New Year’s Day, the first day of Easter and Christmas as well as All Saints’ Day.
How much is a visit to Ksiaz Castle?
There are two ways you can visit Ksiaz Castle. You can tour the castle on your own or you can go on a guided tour. We highly suggets that you go on the guided tour as it gives you information on the castle and it’s past inhabitants that you would completely miss if you wandered around by yourself.
Guided tour of Ksiaz Castle Prices
Adult 39 Zloty (PLN)
Concession 29 Zloty (PLN)
You will need to check and join a tour that is in your prefered language. There is information available when you purchase your tickets and the seller will be able to direct you to when the best time is for you.
Guided tours run for approximately 90 minutes
Is a guided tour of Ksiaz worth it?
On our visits to Poland we have found that the language has been very hard to master and with a guided tour we had no issues with trying to work out the time line of events.
We had organised a private tour with Marceij of the castle and it was a brilliant experience for us. After we purchased our tickets Mark went ahead to find our guide Marceij while we waited in the lobby area.
What do you see on the guided tour of Ksiaz Castle?
Marceji our tour guide told us about how the Ksiaz was originally a fortress, became a ruined castle and then turned into a grand palace for a family to live in. It was nearly tripled in size for the family to live in and call home.
We went from room to room, the Ksiaz Castle interior was beauty everywhere you looked. As we mentioned before Ksiaz Castle was that it had been taken over by the Nazi’s in WWII. It was reported that it had many adjustments done to it in preparation for Adolf Hitler to live there or have it as one of his residences.
Marceji showed us a room that may have been his bedroom and a very well hidden elevator shaft located right across the hall from that room. This is one of the reasons many people visit Ksiaz Castle and find it beyond believable that it still exists.
From there we went up the hallway and we were taken down beneath the castle. Down here was where the true sadness and mystery of Książ Castle really became evident and why it is becoming one of the most famous castles in Poland.
There are so many tunnels under Zamek Książ and they were mainly dug during WWII by prisoners of war from a concentration camp that was close by. There are actually so many that they still have not figured out what all of the purposes of them are.
From the tunnels underneath the castle you could also see the elevator shaft that went all the way up to the hallway near the bedroom. It was not finished and they do think that it may have been damaged on purpose by the retreating army. As we wandered around under the Książ Castle it was the first time I couldn’t understand the history that it held. All castles have a dark history, that is not deniable but this one seemed to be a little darker in my view.
As a part of this private tour as well we got the absolute pleasure of going right up to the top of the castle to where the kitchens used to be. This area was completely off to any other visitors at the time as it is under complete construction and in some parts has areas that are not safe. It had some of the old kitchen chimneys in it and some old stoves.
Is there a Nazi Gold Train at Ksiaz Castle?
Many reports suggest that the Nazi Gold Train was hidden near here and that some of these tunnels were hiding the Polish Gold Train. Marceji assured us that there was nothing like that that he knew he had not seen Hitler’s gold train in any of the tunnels.
Ksiaz Castle gardens and terraces
Just before our tour ended we went to have a look at the Terraces and the gardens outside.We stopped by the rock that you had to touch to see if you would return. We all touched the rock! It is said that it will tell you if you will be lucky in love, become rich or return to the castle.
We went down to the gardens and they were beautiful. They were high up with beautiful views over the river Pełcznica and the Owl Mountains Poland. With the trees having no leaves on them you could see the shape of all of the hills around the Ksiaz, it really showed you the beautiful Polish landscape. The gardens were really well looked after and I would love to see them in the summer.We were visiting Ksiaz castle in winter so we did not last that long outside in the cold..
Ksiaz has so many hidden sections that need so much explaination. Leading off from the terraces and gardens is another small tunnel. You are greeted with a short tunnel with a concrete block at the end with a small slit in it. Behind this concrete slab was a machine gun so anyone who came through that door without permission was in a serious amount of trouble. There was a small door off to the side that led to another tunnel that we took. It was another section that was built by the prisoners and had some war memorabilia in it.
As we went back into Książ Castle there were two little gift shops that the girls loved. Marley got her princess certificate and Willow bought a gorgeous necklace. Our time with Marceji was over and we thanked him so much for showing us around the castle, it was one of our favourite Poland attractions. His knowledge was brilliant and you could really hear the love for the castle in his voice. Guided tour like this invaluable to getting a good knowledge of a place and a true understanding.
Distances from closest cities to Ksiaz are
Wroclaw to Ksiaz Castle – 1hour 3 minutes 70 km
Dresden to Ksiaz Castle – 2 hours 45 minutes 252km
Katowice to Ksiaz Castle – 2 hours 39 minutes 255km
Prague to Ksiaz Castle – 3 hours and 5 minutes 180km
How to get to Ksiaz castle from Wroclaw
Ksiaz Castle is so far away from everything and perched on a hill overlooking a river (from the river called Pelcznica or Pełcznica in Polish, below) it must have been a beautiful view over their piece of beautiful Poland.
Ksiaz Castle is located in a rural countryside setting, not in an urban area. Wroclaw to Ksiaz castle is still easily accessed by public transport. Take the Wroclaw to Walbrzych train and get off at Walbrzych-Miasto station.
The Wroclaw to Walbrzych train journey will take you a little over an hour. Zamek książ is 7.8 km away from Walbrzych train station. You can take a bus or grab a taxi. So how to get to Ksiaz Castle from Wroclaw is pretty easy. Maybe you can find the Polish Gold Train.
I left with the hope that more people will love it as much as Marceji and it will come along in leaps and bounds in its amazing transformation. It is one of the most beautiful castles of Poland and it should be high on your list of places to visit on your trips to Poland!
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About the Author
Mark Wyld is a father, husband and traveller. Having been to over 30 countries worldwide I think I know a thing or 2 about travelling with kids. I have been writing about travel on our website for the last 4 years and have featured on numerous other websites. When I am not talking, dreaming and planning travel I can be found working in disability support .