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Ruiny Zamku Pieniny Krościenko nad Dunajcem

Pieniny Castle Ruins in Krościenko nad Dunajcem

Pośród krzewów i drzew fragmenty kamiennych ścian murów obronnych porośnięte mchem. Po lewej kilka schodów. Po prawej w oddali widać zalesione wzgórze i fragment bezchmurnego nieba.

Krościenko nad Dunajcem Tourist region: Pieniny i Spisz

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The highest-altitude Polish stronghold was the Pieniny Castle, called Saint Kinga's Castle. It was built in the Pieniny Właściwe in the Three Crowns Massif (Masyw Trzech Koron), on the northern side of the top of Zamkowa Mountain, 799 metres above sea level, a few dozen metres below the summit of Zamkowa Mountain. The castle’s ruins are located within the Pieniny National Park.

The castle stands on a rocky shelf in a naturally fortified place, bounded from the south by an inaccessible cliff about 50 metres high, and from the north by a steep wall descending to the Pieniny Stream. It was connected with the rest of the Three Crowns Massif by a narrow rocky isthmus.

The castle was built around 1280 on the request of Princess Kinga of Poland, who joined the St. Claire Monastery in Stary Sącz. It was intended as a refuge for the Poor Clares in moments of danger such as what took place in 1287 during the Tartar invasion. A hundred people and several dozen soldiers could hide in the watchtower from the enemies. The stronghold was deserted in the first half of the 14th century. In 1410, it was demolished by Ścibor's army pillaging the area, sent by Sigismund of Luxemburg, an adherent of the Teutonic Knights, and again in 1433 by the Hussite army.

Built of local limestone, the small castle blended well into the rocky ridge. It was surrounded by defensive walls measuring about 90 metres long and more than a metre thick. Inside were two stone buildings, cellars, wooden buildings and a water cistern from the periodic St Kinga's spring. The entrance led through a gate with a defensive tower.

In 1904, a wooden Pieniny Hermitage was built in the castle ruins, in which the Franciscan hermit Władysław Stachura lived, and in 1924 the hermit Wincenty Kasprowicz. In 1949, the hermitage was burned down by a lightning strike. In the ruins, there is also a rock grotto of Saint Kinga with a life-size statue made of Pińczów stone, carved by the sculptor Władysław Druciak. Since 1921, pilgrimages have been made to the grotto on the anniversary of the saint's death, which falls on 24 July.

During the archaeological excavations of 1938–1939, the documentation of the excavations unfortunately did not survive. Further excavations were carried out between 1976 and 1978. Today, the remains of the castle are protected as a permanent ruin and are open to the public. The stone walls, the remains of the cistern and the square foundations of the tower have been preserved.

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