Niedzica- a castle and a legend

A haunted castle?

A haunted castle?

In broad daylight, with the sun beaming down, I was not at all aware that I was approaching a haunted castle.  Yet the setting for Niedzica Castle was well nigh perfect.

Perched high on a cliff above the Dunajec River, for centuries this castle was a border post with Hungary.  Erected around 1325, the castle changed hands numerous times but the owners remained Hungarian right up to the middle of World War II.  In 1412 it was the venue for a loan from Hungary to the Polish king, using 16 Spis (towns in the region of Slovakia) as collateral.  The towns had to be returned once the loan was repaid.  The last Hungarian countess left with her children in 1943, just two years before the arrival of the Red Army.

The castle on its lofty promontory

The castle on its lofty promontory

The courtyard

The courtyard clock

Curves in the courtyard

Curves in the courtyard

Climbing the stairs to the battlements

Climbing the stairs to the battlements

Looking down on the curvaceous roofs

Looking down on the curvaceous roofs

They are quite fascinating, these roofs, aren’t they, and I have been trying to establish their exact purpose.  My husband insists that they are built that way to prevent snow lingering on them, and he may well be correct.  His basis for thinking so is a programme we watched about Yellowstone, where roofs had to be cleared by hand to remove the weight of the snow.  I haven’t been able to find evidence, so I’ll just say that he’s usually right.

A little history!

A little history!

Furnishings bring the castle to life

Furnishings bring the castle to life

With warm drapes around the bed

With warm drapes around the bed

And the faded lithograph looks creepy indeed!

The faded lithograph looks creepy indeed!

And so we come to the ghost story.  One of the castle’s many owners, Sebastian Berzeviczy, travelled to the New World in the 18th century.  Legend has it that he fell in love with an Inca princess.  Their daughter, Umina, married one of the Incan rebels who was subsequently executed by the Spanish.  Umina fled to Niedzica with her son and father, allegedly taking with them some sacred scrolls and Inca treasure.  Umina was later murdered outside the castle, presumably by a treasure hunter.  She now roams the castle as the “White Lady” to protect her gold.  The castle has 35 suites so, if you fancy a little ghost hunting, it could be a good place to stay.

Time to get out on the battlements for a little fresh air!

The views are breathtaking

The views are breathtaking

And look down on a forest of chimneys

Looking down on a forest of chimneys

And out across Lake Czorsztyn

And out across Lake Czorsztyn

In 1994 the lake was dammed downstream of the castle, creating an artificial reservoir, Lake Czorsztyn.  The castle now stands approximately 30 metres above the upper water level.  Stalls alongside the dam sell grilled smoked cheese for a snack, or to take away, with local honey and crafts.  The smells are so appetising!

Looking out to the dam

Looking out across the dam

Can you see the snowy peaks in the distance?

Can you see the snowy peaks in the distance?

Beside the lake all is calm

Beside the lake all is calm, with the ruins of Czorsztyn over the water

You may remember that I was across the lake at Czorsztyn Castle in my Tatry Mountains post.

The fortress was renovated almost every time it changed hands, but the final reconstruction was completed by the Polish Ministry of Culture in 1963.  It has served as a historical museum ever since.

So, what did you think of Niedzica?  Will you be checking in any time soon?  I know that my friend Paula loves the mountain scenery and I would like to share this on her Thursday’s Special.  I hope she’ll approve.  I’m off there next to see what’s special about Thursday this week.  Come with me, won’t you?




  1. Hi again Jo, I am in the process of compiling a retrospective of bloggers’ entries to TS in this year, and I came again to this post to choose the pic that shows best your way of looking at the world :D. I have to admit that I was there at that spot, but did not enter the castle for all the crowds and noise, and I admire what you captured there.

    1. It wasn’t too busy the day we were there, Paula. Early in the season, what a lovely memory to come back here, and thank you for the kind words. I have spent today at a very different castle in Yorkshire, tramping in the gardens and admiring the beautifully Christmas decorated house. 230 photos so I expect you’ll be seeing Castle Howard from a few different angles. 🙂

      1. Great 🙂 I have a question for you – Tish’s fault. We were talking about ideas for my challenges in 2015 and she agreed to host TS on 22nd January, and she added that you might be interested in hosting one. What do you say? You can pic your date and month 😀

      2. Are you away then? I saw the post but was thinking about it before commenting (not like me at all! 🙂 ) Yes, I will if you’d like me to. Heaven knows what I’ll do but I’m sure inspiration will descend 😦 I’m in the Algarve 1st-15th February and I think I might prefer after that but I’m open to persuasion. (wine and chocolates 🙂 )

      3. After Algavre sounds fine :D. I just remembered I am supposed to be in Venice from 19 to 22 February, so the slot for 26 is open :D. Honey, where can I send wine and chocolates? I still don’t have your address 😀

      4. P.S. I am not away. I am working from home today and tomorrow (cutesy of my director at whom I shouted last week :D). I will not be away anywhere until 19 February when I am going to Venice to take pictures of aqua alta 😆

      5. Good thinking! I offered Lisa a £99 deal I found for 3 nights on the Lido on 7th Feb as a birthday/anniversary present but she said Venice is too expensive and they have no spare cash whatsoever. Shame 😦

      6. Venice is awfully expensive and smelly. I found a cheap albergo offering free parking on the hotel grounds on piazza Roma, I am skeptical, but it will be an adventure – it is close to where I live so it would be a shame not to go. I was only once 25 years ago.

      7. Sorry Paula, I had to go and cook! 26th Feb is Dad’s 87th birthday so now I know what day it is 🙂 Ok, you can pencil me in for then.
        I stayed on the Lido one Spring when James was young and we did the islands and a bit of ‘play’ time- it’s no place for kids! I had 2 prior visits but just very memorable day trips. I’d still love to go back and mooch those back streets.

  2. You had busy days … very interesting post and outstanding photos. that over the roof tops is my favorite. Love the architecture of this castle – the roof is very interesting and it’s built so the snow glides off automatically – brilliant idea, but maybe not so good for those that walks underneath. *smile
    You know me – I don’t go to church if I don’t must or have to .. so I don’t really go into any other religion’s churches neither.

    1. I’m not religious, Vivi, but I’m always a little in awe, and maybe envious, of people for whom religion is central to their lives. Most of my Polish family come in that category. 🙂

    1. I’m pretty sure you’d like Poland, Nicole 🙂 The cities are beautiful and you have quite a choice when it comes to mountain ranges. And it’s cheap! (but I know your major expense is getting there) Maybe on your next European holiday…

  3. Ah Castles .. we love them 🙂 and haunted to boot … she really should have left those scrolls well alone .
    Yes the curvy roof tops are very attractive … wish our slate roof looked so good 😉
    Hey … enjoy your Portugal Jo .. I see you are off v soon x

    1. I think it was her father-in-law who was the greedy one, Poppy, but she paid the price. I wonder what happened to her son 🙂 You don’t mess with those Incas! I think they were a blood thirsty lot.
      Yes, if the sun won’t come to me, I have to go looking… and we haven’t checked on our little house since January.

      1. ..ah I must have got in a muddle , what a surprise …

        And on your trip … it’s high time then Jo 🙂

  4. Well, I made it to your beautiful castle at last Jo, a day late but I’m here, yay! And it was well worth the wait…the history, the beautiful views, the castle itself and of course the ghost story. All very ‘haunting’ and atmospheric. The first photo, the view from the water, is particularly inviting…and a little scary too, as if you are not quite sure what you will find where you get there…Loved it, and I would definitely visit.
    I would think that your hubby is right about the roofs, makes sense!
    After my post (going up shortly ) I’ll be taking a break until Monday, spending time with my boys and really looking forward to it. I know I’ll get horribly behind – again! – but I’m in need for some time away. Been a strange week this one…and I hope that you are feeling better and enjoy a lovely weekend. Let’s hope for some sunshine… take care my friend ❤ 🙂

    1. Thanks for making it, Sherri, whenever! Life is too full at times and you need to spend time with the family even more than you need to blog 🙂
      I’ll be putting up my walk then disappearing off to Tavira for a week on Wednesday, but I know we’ll catch up sometime. Big hugs to you. Have fun!

    1. Morning Naomi 🙂 (it’s early here) Glad you enjoyed the post. I wondered if you had seen my ‘U is for Ula’ during the week? It fit well alongside your ‘U’ entry. A safe and happy weekend to you and yours!

  5. These are beautiful shots, Jo. I just love those roofs and the story about the ghost. I wonder if she did manage to take some sacred scrolls and Inca treasure! That would make a great story 😀

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