Czersk castle dominates the beautiful Vistula valley. A violent history behind it, now a major tourist attraction.
Czersk never recovered from the disastrous Swedish invasion of the 1650s.
The Italian Queen Bona ushered in a golden age for the castle in Czersk.
Prince Janusz I founded the brick castle on Castle Hill that you can still see today.
All models are based on available scientific studies, archaeological results, preserved images and available sources from the era and illustrate the current state of knowledge about the history of Czersk.
How the castle has changed
One of the oldest, continually inhabited places in Mazovia, Czersk started off as an ancient Slavic settlement. In time, it changed into a walled stronghold. A Romanesque church, St. Peter’s, was built here in the early eleven hundreds. Reputedly, it was founded by Magnus, son of King Harold of England, who died at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
In the twelve hundreds Czersk became the capital of the Princes of Mazovia, from the royal Piast dynasty. The real glory days were during the rule of High Prince Konrad Mazowiecki, the man who invited the Teutonic Knights to Poland. The Duchy of Czersk was created when Mazovia was divided among Konrad's heirs. It was at this time that the wyvern appeared in Mazovian heraldry. Its origins lie in the winged dragon of Wessex and the dreamworld of old Slavic mythology. In the thirteen hundreds Czersk was granted a town charter and its medieval layout has been preserved until today.
In the early fourteen hundreds Prince Janusz I built a Gothic castle, to protect his lands from the Teutonic Knights. Then, following political changes and the loss of a direct connection to the Vistula River, Janusz decamped to Warsaw and Czersk lost status.
In 1526 the Piast princes died out and Mazovia became Crown lands. King Sigismund the Old gave Czersk to his wealthy, young Italian wife, Queen Bona, who extended the castle and planted vineyards.
Czersk was badly damaged during the disastrous Swedish attack of the 1650s. The Swedes blew up parts of the castle and destroyed 90% of the town.
One century later, royal official Franciszek Bieliński restored parts of the castle and town. His brick bridge replaced the ruined drawbridge, and is still in use today.
And modern archaeologists have added much to our knowledge about the history of Czersk.
Delivered by the Cultural Centre in Góra Kalwaria
Subsidised by the National Centre for Culture under the programme Kultura w sieci