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Castle of the Dukes of Masovia (Czersk, Poland)

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      12.08.2011 16:43
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      Well preserved castle ruins

      Having arrived in the village of Czersk my main aim was to find the ruins of the castle which once was a mighty fortress with strong protective walls. This was in the time of the reign of Duke Konrad of Mazowiecki in the 13th century. Throughout the ages the castle was taken over by various Kings and Princes, even Queen Bona who was Italian and made many changes to the castle. This innovative Queen enlarged the cellars and introduced vines and planted orchards on the scarps of the Vistula River.

      To find the ruins of the castle you have to walk through the village to the Church of the Transfiguaration and you will see the entrance to the red brick castle standing high behind the church on a steep scarp overlooking the River Vistula or Wisla as we call it in Warsaw. Before entering through the tower gate you have to pay at a little wooden shed. I think the price was 6zloty (£1.25 approx) per adult.

      My first impression was that it was in excellent condition and has been beautifully preserved. Three towers are in good condition and most of the walls have been saved. The big open square field which is in the centre of the grounds is spacious and easy to walk around. There is a stall selling books and memorabilia like costumes of the 13th century. A display of sword fighting was taking place when I was there which was good fun. There is also a stall cooking Polish sausages and the aromas wafting in my direction were very evocative but I knew we were going to stop in the square to eat our sandwiches so passed on these lovely fat kielbasa.

      The most stunning feature of the castle is the brick bridge which was built in the 18th century and supported by two very wide arches. You can't walk on the bridge as it isn't fenced off and would be too dangerous. It is a sheer drop down and not to be viewed if you suffer from vertigo. On the same level of the bridge are a series of steps leading up into one of the round towers. The views from the top of the tower are really special and made me realise how much of Poland outside Warsaw is so rural. Lots and lots of apple trees and vines growing in lines - not to mention the odd stork or two nesting high on the telegraph poles. A very lovely view especially as on that day the sky was quite bright but moody. There is a room in the tower dedicated to the history of the castle and Czersk but really it is a poor affair. Just a few posters of the church, castle and maps of the castle and its foundations with written text in Polish.

      In the second round tower which also can be reached by narrow stone steps is a prison. A pretty grim place and I am sure that many a prisoner would have thought to throw themselves out of the top window rather than be treated to life in a gruesome dungeon.

      The circular walls which connect the towers haven't been preserved as well as the towers and the bridge although in some places the walls are sixteen feet high and quite deep, I'd say well over a metre thickness. On the back wall which is very low and overlooks scrub land you can sit on the ruined walls and swing your legs over the top - that's if you are brave enough. I wasn't as I don't like heights very much and can only look in front not down so I sat the other way round looking towards the castle courtyard.

      I was pleased to visit the castle ruins and enjoyed sitting in the courtyard. The views were rural and very pretty. I only wish there had been a small museum as there wasn't really any information about the castle. There were history books on sale but nothing on this castle which seemed rather strange and sometimes when visiting attractions in Poland I often wish that there was more information available as it makes my job frustrating.

      Just a mention - there are toilets but only the portable types. These are near the entrance gates as you leave the tower gate. Remember to take a peg for your nose as they aren't the best toilets I have visited at an historical attraction.

      There is a bus that runs from Warsaw to Czersk but it is very infrequent and probably not at all outside the summer months. Best to visit by car.

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