Ogrodzieniec Castle is a ruined medieval castle in the semi-mountainous highland region called the Polish Jura in south-central Poland. Rebuilt several times in its history, the castle was originally built in the 14th–15th century by the Włodkowie Sulimczycy family. The castle is situated on the 515.5 m high Castle Mountain (Polish: Góra Zamkowa), the highest hill of the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland. Located on the Trail of the Eagles' Nests, the ruins are opened for visitors.
Established in the early 12th century, during the reign of Bolesław III Wrymouth, the first stronghold was razed by the Tatars in 1241. In the mid-14th century a new gothic castle was built here to accommodate the Włodek Sulima family. Surrounded by three high rocks, the castle was well integrated into the area. The defensive walls were built to close the circuit formed by the rocks, and a narrow opening between two of the rocks served as an entrance.
In 1470 the castle and lands were bought by the wealthy Cracovian townsmen, Ibram and Piotr Salomon. Then, Ogrodzieniec became the property of Jan Feliks Rzeszowski, the rector of Przemyśl and the canon of Cracow. The owners of the castle about that time were also Jan and Andrzej Rzeszowskis, and later Pilecki and Chełmiński families. In 1523 the castle was bought by Jan Boner. After his death, the castle passed to his nephew, Seweryn Boner, who replaced the medieval stronghold with a renaissance castle in 1530–1545.
In 1562 the castle became the property of the Great Marshal of the Crown Jan Firlej, as a result of his marriage with Zofia- the daughter of Seweryn Boner. Later on, in 1587, the castle was captured by the arms of the Austrian archduke Maximilian III, the rejected candidate to the Polish-Lithuanian throne. In 1655, it was partly burnt by the Swedish troops, who -deployed here for almost two years- destroyed the buildings considerably. From 1669 on, the castle belonged to Stanisław Warszycki, the Cracow's castellan, who managed to partly rebuild the castle after the Swedish devastations.
About 1695 the castle changed hands once again becoming the property of the Męciński family. Seven years later, in 1702, over a half of the castle had burnt down in the fire set by the Swedish troops of Charles XII. After the fire, it was never to be rebuilt. About 1784 the castle was purchased by Tomasz Jakliński, who did not care for its condition. Consequently, the last tenants left the devastated castle about 1810. The next owner of the Ogrodzieniec Castle was Ludwik Kozłowski, who used the remains of the castle as a source of building material and sold out the castle's equipment to the Jewish merchants.
The last proprietor of the castle was the neighbouring Wołoczyński family. After the Second World War, the castle was nationalized. The works aimed at preserving the ruins and opening them to the visitors were started in 1949 and finished in 1973.
According to some investigators of paranormal phenomena, the Ogrodzieniec Castle is a place haunted by mighty dark powers. There have been locally famous reports of the "Black Dog of Ogrodzieniec" being seen prowling the ruins in the night-time. Witnesses have claimed that the spectre is a black dog much larger than an ordinary dog, and is supposed to have burning eyes and pull away a heavy chain. The dog is believed to be the soul of the Castellan of Cracow, Stanisław Warszycki. Interestingly, his soul also haunts the ruins of the Dańków Castle, where it appears as a headless horseman.
On the bottom floor, fragments of the renaissance frescos of lilies are still visible.
Close to the castle, on the market of Podzamcze village, there is a chapel built out of the castle's architectural elements (portal, volutes, cornice). Inside the chapel, there are original elements of the castle chapel: the vault keystone, round shot, which is said to have fallen into the castle during the Swedish Deluge (1655–1660) and the renaissance Our Lady sculpture. Unfortunately, the sculpture has been painted in the folk style (with oil-paint) by the locals, which makes it rather difficult to notice its original beauty.
In 1973 the Ogrodzieniec Castle was used as an outdoor-scenery for the television series "Janosik".
In 1980 the film "The Knight" by Lech Majewski was shot in the Ogrodzieniec Castle.
In 1984 the castle was presented in the "Behind The Iron Curtain" part of the Iron Maiden's video "Live After Death". The material filmed in the Ogrodzieniec Castle wad used in the song "Hallowed Be Thy Name".
In 1995, the castle appeared in the Australian television series Spellbinder, where the castle was used as the ruins of the old Spellbinder's castle.
In 2001 the ruins were used as a scenery for Andrzej Wajda's film "The Revenge". For the purpose of film making, large decorations were built in the castle, which remained there after the realization of the film was finished.
- "Podzamcze – Ogrodzieniec Castle", Castles in Poland
- Bogna Wiernikowska, Maciej Kozłowski "Duchy polskie" 1985