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?

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82 comments

  1. It’s so beautiful there Jo and as always you make it look more beautiful by just seeing it through your eyes. I would love to visit a haunted castle for sure. Great shots and thanks for sharing. 😀

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      1. Scaredy cat! I would have invited her for tea and biscuits. Think of all the stories she could have told us. 😆

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  2. Jo these are great photos and you know i have loved those curved roofs from the moment you first gave us a taste in an earlier post. I just read that in China a lot of curved roofs are used to ward off ghosts as ghosts can’t travel in straight lines. The things you read on the internet. Not a lot of curved roofs in Canada and we have lots of snow…..its a puzzle.

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    1. That curves and ghosts fact rings a bell from somewhere, Sue, but isn’t it strange that you don’t have curvy roofs for the snow? And Yellowstone, of all places! Why did they have flat roofs? 🙂

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  3. Lovely photos Jo and such an interesting post. The European castles are so different to those in our country, I suppose most of ours are much older. I love the ‘eyebrow’ dormer windows, not sure of the reason for them, but I have seen this style in 1950s houses in Surrey and love them!

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  4. Beautiful post Jo! Especially loved the the curvaceous roofs! I was in a castle in Arcen, NL and they had a person rug on the table too. I really like the look. Might have to try it! Have a great day!

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    1. Hi Kathryn ! Thanks 🙂 At home we have a small silk Turkish carpet in a frame on the wall (couldn’t afford a big enough one for the floor!) It wouldn’t even cover a coffee table but it’s a good memory 🙂

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  5. I love the curvaceous rooftops and the forest of chimneys, Jo, and I love the ghost story. It goes along perfectly with the dark and dreary day we have on store for today in Virginia. I’d love to stay wrapped in that bed with those warm curtains pulled around. 🙂

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    1. Grey here too, but I went out with the Nordics for an hour. Back in time to watch Rafa 🙂 (of course! Foolishly I’ll be in the Algarve when the final is played. Don’t know how I’ll cope, but he has to get there first)

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  6. What a wonderful setting for a castle Jo and such an interesting history. I could very easily spend hours exploring each and every nook and cranny. Can’t wait to visit lots of these during our July trip to Southern Germany and Austria 🙂

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    1. Roofs, you mean, Rough? 🙂 🙂 Shall we get into the great plurals debate? No, I don’t have time. How’s the ankle? No, I didn’t find it very spooky but I wouldn’t want to be there in the dark. Whoooo 🙂

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    1. Meg, you have to be joking! Venice is … I can’t even put it into words! A dream city, but beware the crowds and the cruise ships. You’ll be fine with early morning wanderings. I’m jealous! 🙂

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  7. Another thing thatI love about your posts is that you don’t size your images for the web. It gives me an opportunity to soak into these spectacular landscapes 😀 (see how happy I am 🙂 ) Have a great, great Thursday, Jo. It is finally sunny here and the view from the office is not too bad, but I must go back to boring stuff. See you later.

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    1. Size images? You know me, Paula. You get me just as I am! My corner of the north east is damp still but I’m going out with the Nordics because this time next week I’ll be in Tavira. Pinch me somebody, I’m dreaming 🙂

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  8. I am sure your husband is right about roofs and snow. The fourth family crest comes with the name Horvath which is of course the name for Croat :). Small world, isn’t it?
    P.S. the views are captivating, and I would feel like a fool not to seize the opportunity while I am at Strbske Pleso. I only have to convince hubby to drive me there 🙂 Dziękuję bardzo, bardzo 🙂

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    1. Now I have to worry because your photos will be so much better than mine 😦
      But it is a beautiful area, Paula. Small, small world! I’m still amazed!

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  9. I am ecstatic – not only is it a gorgeous post that I feel very flattered to include in my TS, but it is actually giving me the info I need for my summer trip 🙂 Dziękuję bardzo Jo 🙂 I will go to read now and get back to you with questions…

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    1. What a surreal experience! 🙂 🙂 Isn’t blogging a strange world? I was going to share the river raft post on here but I wanted to do this one first. Glad you like it, Paula 🙂

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