The Castle


The Castle

The history of Drohiczyn’s Castle is strictly connected with the history of the town itself. The castle was destroyed by Tatars in 1240, rebuilt by Erdzwill, conquered first by Trojden in 1274, then by Janusz I (1382) and ruined by Jagiełło in 1383. Its ultimate destruction took place in 1657 by Rakoczy’s company and king Carl Gustav people. The time Swedish army was destroying it, the stronghold was no more but larger buildings of district jurisdiction. As it was written by Gwagnin in 1611 while enumerating the castles of Podlasie in Suraz, Tykocin and Mielnik there is only a royal court in Drohiczyn: “where the cases for nobility court are being resolved” (“Opisanie Polski” p.261, 262 in translation).

It is not known for certain whether new buildings were raised in the same place after Swedes retreated or court’s jurisdictions were moved to the town. It seems that none of this had happened since courts were later on placed in the town.

In the beginning of 18th century, on top of the Castle Hill there was a tower holding municipal and rural acts. Walenty Kuczyński, a judge of magistrates’ court in Drohiczyn (died on October 7th, 1688) and his son Wiktor Kuczyński employed in legal counsel in 1687 both remained in the described office. As a regent, Walenty supervised the legal counsel in 1688. The tower was a symbolic residence of Podlaskie castellans.

Jaroszewicz writes further on: the top of the Castle Hill was always occupied by a square brick tower of two levels – upper and lower – which held civil custody as well as criminal prison for nobility. In the year of 1788 this tower was demolished and its remaining materials were used to build a tower next to town’s court house. Around 1845 the very same tower belonged to successor Olszewski and it remained empty.

The Castle Hill, on which once stood a fortress, changed significantly. The castle was destroyed by human hand whereas the hill was undermined by the waters of river Bug. The Castle Hill’s peak, on which it was possible for students of Drohiczyn school to play a football match several dozen years ago, was so reduced that a small building could not fit the remaining space. In the very same hill, on the side facing river Bug, one could see a dungeon dug in the ground to which there must have been an entrance from the top that had loosened in time and had fallen off (information dates back to 1845).

Different sources supply us with additional data: the south-east side, on the height of 20 ells (11,4 metres), there was a small opening which led to two round caves joined with a narrow pass. They are 3,5 ells (2 metres) high and 30 ells (17,1 metres) in their circumference. There is no sign of bricks in the walls; if struck they will produce an echo sound similar to those which can be found in vaulted cellars.

In his book, published in 1903, Zygmunt Gloger writes more about the cave: “in the middle of the hill’s height from the side of the river we saw an opening. Due to previous rain it was difficult to get to opening through precipitous slope, but, as we made our way, behind the opening we saw a curious cavern carved in gaize. The cavern was comprised of straight corridor - three feet wide and over a dozen feet long. There were two opposite niches, or recesses, on both sides which made the dungeon similar to the interior of a miniature church with four chapels. The cavern was most probably a prison or a treasury and not a church in times when there was a castle on top of the hill. At any rate, it must have been longer as it began in the non-existent part of the hill and the part of the cavern that remained constituted an ending to which much of external dirt was carried with rain. The deterioration of the hill from the Bug’s side is slow, because loamy gaize – the hill’s constituent – is hard enough to preserve the names of the visitors who wrote them twenty years ago which we found on the cavern’s walls. If we consider the fact that despite the resistance of the gaize a considerable part of the mountain – a half, maybe – was undermined and destroyed and there is no place left for a castle on the top of the hill, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that a fortress could have existed on top of Drohiczyn’s hill a long time ago.”

An urban legend – yet no more than a folk tale similar to those told about every Polish castle – is that the hill was raised by prisoners of war, its basement were filled with treasures and they once upon a time joined Drohiczyn castle with Franciscans monastery in which dungeons there was a secret iron door to that passage to the castle.


Sources

  1. Józef Jaroszewicz "Drohiczyn - Opis historyczny", Athenaeum 1847
  2. Zygmunt Gloger "Dolinami rzek", Warszawa 1903
  3. Wiktoryn Kuczyński "Pamiętnik 1668-1737"
  4. Tygodnik Ilustrowany 1873 Tom XI Nr 262 - 287 Seria II

Translation

Tłumaczenie tekstu / Translation by - Jakub Bujno