In the vicinity of the Uniejów thermal spa on the banks of the Warta River, the historic 14th century Castle of the Archbishops of Gniezno invites you to visit the castle tower, the undergrounds and the courtyard, formerly used for knight’s tournaments and courtly celebrations. Enjoy an excellent dinner in the stylish Herbowa Restaurant or sleep as a king in the Hotel.
Built as a gothic defensive fortress, from the 14th century the castle was the seat of the archbishops of Gniezno, the first capital of Poland. Diocesan synods and clergy conventions used to be held in its walls. Furthermore, the building served as a prison for disobedient priests or infidels. Among the imprisoned ones there was also a sculptor from Gdańsk, Hans Brandt. The artist was imprisoned in the Uniejów fortress by Bishop Oleśnicki because he escaped from Gniezno with the advance payment for the tombstone of St. Adalbert. According to source materials, he finished his work in chains.
During the wars archbishops kept treasures from the Gniezno Cathedral in the defensive castle to protect them from robbers. During the Thirteen Years’ War between the Prussian Confederation, allied with the Kingdom of Poland, and the Teutonic Order state in 1454-66, the church kept such valuable items as chasubles, chalices, monstrances and even holy relics: a hand and the head of St Adalbert. The legend about the local white lady (“Uniejka”) who was to save the town’s inhabitants from robbers, lurking for the possessions hidden in the castle, illustrate this fascinating history.
In 1525 the castle was devastated by a fire and was subsequently rebuilt into a Renaissance Bishops residence. It gradually lost its defensive character. In the first half of the 17th century it was converted into a palace. The palace was abandoned after the secularization conducted by the Prussian authorities in the 18th century. In the first half of the 19th century, the tsarist general, Aleksander Toll, rebuilt the palace and converted it into a summer residence.
The castle tower, the yard and the underground room where the dungeons are located, are opened to visitors. Guided tours are available. The tower is accessible from April to 30th November between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. (spring and summer), and between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (autumn). Take a walk through the park, an 19th century English landscape garden with various nature monuments.