Ksiaz Castle

Walbrzych, Poland | C.1292

Photo Credit: @thereisnosky

Known as the largest castle in northern Walbrzych, Poland this pink beauty, known as Ksiaz Castle, is located in the picturesque Walbrzyski Foothills. With its history dating back to the 13th century the castle has overlooked the gorge of the Pelcznica River for generations and is one of the city’s main tourist attractions with a link to World War II that could have completely changed its course of history.

Upon the destruction of the first fortification in 1263 by Bohemian forces, Duke Bolko I the Strict ordered a new castle built. Completed in 1292, the Duke took residence at the castle and gave himself the title Lord of Ksiaz. Centuries later, the castle’s complex was devastated again by the Hungarian military. This time it was rebuilt in the Renaissance style, and eventually acquired by the Hohberg family who owned it until the 1940s.

The Nazi regime seized the Castle towards the end of World War II. The Ksaiz was to become the future Fuhrer’s headquarters and residence for Adolf Hitler. They dismantled much of the interiors in a misguided attempt to make it better fit for the Fuhrer.

Supervised by Nazi SS and Organisation Todt personnel, Ksiaz became part of the labyrinth of underground tunnels known as Project Riese. Construction of the secret tunnels was forced onto prisoners of the nearby Gross-Rosen concentration camp until the Red Army occupied the castle in 1945. Remaining unfinished, it is still unknown how the tunnel system would have been utilized.

Following the War, Ksiaz was used as a recreation home and cultural center. Much of its interior has been restored and sections of the tunnel compound beneath the castle are now used by the Polish Academy of Sciences. A large memorial on the site remembers the Furstenstein subcamp and its inmates who erected the tunnels.

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