One of only three castles in Poland that remain completely intact, the Renaissance Pieskowa Skala Castle (Zamek Pieskowa Skała) is on the Eagles’ Nest Trail, a scenic route that wends past medieval castles and watchtowers built as defense strongholds between Częstochowa and Krakow in Malopolska.
Located in Ojców National Park and surrounded by beautiful formal knot gardens, the castle is one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture in Poland. Although it was a defensive fortification of Casimir the Great in the 14th century, the castle acquired its present beautiful façade two hundred years later, when the two-story, balconied loggia, the onion-topped clock tower, a chapel and an arcaded courtyard were added. Nevertheless, from the rear, the castle still resembles the medieval fortress of its beginnings, standing proudly on its rocky outcrop with austere walls overlooking the Prądnik River Valley.
The castle now houses three small museums, one of Polish history and two of art, all of which allow visitors to gain a glimpse of the lavishly decorated interiors, including artwork on loan from Wawel Castle in Krakow. The Maczuga Herkulesa (Hercules’s Club) limestone pinnacle stands nearby in Ojców National Park.
The Pieskowa Skala Castle is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., on Fridays from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., and on the weekends from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Admission to all three museums costs18PLN, while concessions cost 11PLN and parking at the castle costs 6.50PLN.