Southern Poland is filled with amazing castles (or Zameks, in Polish) and inside the walls of each of these castles are rich stories that helped shape Poland into the country it is today. In our trip through Krakow and its surrounding towns in Southern Poland, we stopped by all of the best castles in the region for their history, beauty, and photo opportunities. Read on and save these on your google Calendar for the best stops to add to your Poland itinerary.
1. Moszna Castle
The castle of all castles! With 365 rooms and 99 towers, this gigantic dreamlike castle looks like something straight out of a fairy tale. The elaborate architecture and elegance has made the Moszna Castle one of the most visited and recognized monuments in Poland. Located in the small village of Moszna in southwestern Poland, the castle plays an important part in Polish history. Locals believe it once was a monastery run by the Order of The Knights Templar and eventually went on to serve as a hospital after World War II. If you're a history fan, make sure to sign up for one of their daily tours available. Built in Baroque style, the castle is surrounded by a spacious courtyard..There’s a small garden right behind the castle where you can spread a blanket and have a picnic or benches scattered throughout the grounds where you can sit and relax. Today, part of the castle has been converted into Hotel Zamzek Moszna, a reasonably priced hotel with an incredibly on-site restaurant. We spent our last night in Poland here, and the chance to get up at sunrise and shoot the castle before anyone else arrives is worth it!
Location: Zamkowa 1, 47-370 Moszna, Poland
Hours: 10 am to 5 pm
Accommodations: The Moszna Castle Hotel offers a variety of rooms for guests who want to spend a night at the castle. Check out the Moszna castle website here.
2. Niedzica Castle
Plan on taking a half-day trip to explore this haunted castle. The history of Niedzica Castle dates back to the 14th century. It was first constructed in 1325 by the Brezevichy family. According to legend, one of the first owners of the castle, Sebastian Brezevichy married an Incan royal woman named Umina from Peru. Umina was murdered in front of the castle by a thief while trying to protect her family treasure. It is said that the ghost of Umina appears at night in order to scare away anyone who is trying to steal her gold. Today, the castle functions as a museum and is surrounded by a small village. The best way to get here is to join a tour from Zaopane or Krakow.
The castle is on a mound surrounded by water, and has many gorgeous stone rooms to wander and shoot - and looks striaght out of Game of Thones
Location: Zamkowa 2, 13-100 Nidzica, Poland
Hours: Monday – closed
Tuesday to Sunday – 9 am to 4 pm
3. Niemodlin Castle
The history of the Niemodlin Castle dates back to prehistoric times. This 700 year-old castle is one of the largest, oldest, and most historically significant castles in Poland. Throughout history, the castle was located in a prime location between Western and Eastern Europe and served as a base for those passing through the area. In the 16th and 17th centuries the castle was rebuilt into a Renaissance residence and today, is owned by private investors who plan to renovate the castle. It is currently open to public for tours and events. The basement level of the castle holds a torture museum - which was a surprise for us.
The castle grounds have peacocks and deer wandering within them (we didn't see the peacocks, but we the deer did get very close to us!) Walk inside the courtyard for the best photos!
Location: Rynek 55, 49-100 Niemodlin, Poland
Hours: Monday – closed
Tuesday to Friday – 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday & Sunday – 10 am to 6 pm
4. Tenczyn Castle
About a 40-minute drive outside of Krakow is this medieval castle. Like many of the other castles throughout Poland, the Tenczyn Castle was badly damaged during the 18th century and still remains in the same ruinous state. Access to the inside of the castle is limited to weekend tours where one of the local guides will tell you all about its history. The grounds of the castle are available to roam any day of the week. Stop by for some especially picturesque greenery and fields of flowers
Location: 32-067 Rudno, Poland
Hours: Saturdays & Sundays from 10 am – 6 pm
5. Dabrowa Castle
Dabrowa Castle was first built in 1615-1617, and was owned by nobel families until the 20th century. Like much of Poland, the Opole area was occupied by Germans during WW2. During the war, there was a uniform repair point for the German army in the castle and in 1945, the castle housed the military staff of the 1st Ukrainian Front and a field hospital. After the war ended, most Germans that resided in the region fled the area and abandoned their property and many of the buildings and castles in the region fell into disrepair and left in poor condition.
Over the past few decades, Poland has made a strong effort into restoring some of these castles, but not many have not been restored to their original glory. The Dabrowa castle is another landmark that is in partial ruins - but is still a very interesting and beautiful site to see and worth a visit. The castle is located on private grounds, so the entrance gate being open is not always guaranteed, but was unlocked and very open when we arrived.
Location: Zamkowa 3, 49-120 Dąbrowa, Poland
Hours: No set hours
6. Wawel Castle
Rounding out the list is the Royal Castle of Kraków, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978. Wawel Castle is one of the largest as well as politically significant Polish castles, serving as a symbol of national pride for the country. Throughout history, the castle has mostly served as a residence for Polish royal families. Today, the Wawel Royal Castle serves as a museum divided into five sections: the Royal Private Apartments, State Rooms, Lost Wawel and the Exhibition of Oriental Art, and the Crown Treasury & Armoury. Each section requires a different ticket.
Location: Wawel 5, 31-001 Kraków, Poland
Hours: Monday – Closed
Tuesday to Thursday – 9 am – 5 pm
Saturdays & Sundays from 10 am – 5 pm
But the grounds are always open!