About 50km and an hour’s drive from Katowice, Ogrodzieniec Castle offers some of the most stunning views in the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland. Perched atop the highest point in the upland chain at 504m, this legendary castle is surrounded by some of the most picturesque, imposing inselbergs in the area – an attraction in themselves. The castle and its scenic surrounds are actually located about 2km east of Ogrodzieniec in Podzamcze. Like the other Jura castles, Ogrodzieniec was built on the initiative of King Kazimierz in the 14th century (part of the defensive line known as the Eagles' Nests) before the Boner family enlarged and converted it into a Renaissance residence said to rival Kraków's Wawel Castle beginning in 1532. Subsequently destroyed three times with the Swedes tallying two of the devastating tantrums, Ogrodzieniec fell into ruin and several of its once great walls were even razed in the 19th century to provide masonry for other building works.
Today it's a picturesque ruin eclipsing all others in the country and has been stabilised safely so that visitors can follow the one-way walking trail, see parts previously closed off to tourists and rebuilt wooden cloisters, dizzying vantage points – including two intact towers – over several levels. Night time too holds a charming appeal as newly installed lighting illuminates the castle, providing an atmospheric, mysterious aura, where the ghosts and ghouls of the past can be seen, familiarising visitors with the legends and tales of the past. Admission is required and guests will find a tourist information office inside its walled courtyard just past the impressive gate. A seasonal cafe/bar in one cellar, as well as a touristy torture chamber and medieval kitsch merchants do little to detract from the charm of this imposing site, one of PL’s most treasured.
Understandably, tourist interest in the site has increased recently after the castle was used as a shooting location and shown in the Netflix series, The Witcher, released in December 2019 and based on the book series by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. Check out the calendar of events online, which often includes Medieval folk dancing, knights clobbering each other to impress the crowds during tournaments, and night tours of the castle.