The Polish Jura region between Częstochowa and Kraków is one of the most beautiful places in Poland, with its hilly landscape and Jurassic limestone rock formations, cliffs, valleys and caves. But apart from the extraordinary natural beauty, it also abounds in historical monuments along the Trail of the Eagles’ Nests.
This amazing hiking trail, which is over 160 km long, owes its name to the chain of medieval castles and strongholds that can be seen along the way. They were erected on high rocks or cliffs (even up to 30 meters of height), just as if they were eagles’ nests - hence the name. The majority of the castles date back to the 14th century and were built under the rule of king Casimir III the Great in order to protect Kraków against foreign invaders, but also to protect merchants traveling along important trading routes.
Nowadays, most of them are preserved in the form of picturesque ruins. Some were destroyed during the many wars that took place over the past centuries, others were abandoned. Still, each and every castle has its own history and legend to be discovered. Let us take a look at three of the most interesting castles on the trail.
The Ojców Castle is located in the Ojcowski National Park, which in itself is worth taking a hike. The stronghold is one of the oldest on the trail and even though not much is left except for the entrance gate and the Gothic tower, its picturesque location, with the gate literally growing out of the stone formation, definitely won't disappoint you.
Pieskowa Skała Castle
Even though the Ojcowski National Park is the smallest national park in Poland, it has two castles. The second one is the Pieskowa Castle, which was raised on the initiative of Casimir III the Great and later converted into a Renaissance residence. It was restored and expanded, and nowadays it is one of the best preserved castles on the trail. What is more, the famous Hercules' Club rock formation is just a stone's cast away from the castle.
The ruins of the Ogrodzieniec Castle are the biggest and if you have time to only make one stop along the Eagles' Nests Trail, we'd recommend this one. Located at the highest point of the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland, it offers amazing views. The castle was built by King Casimir III the Great. Then it was expanded and turned into a Renaissance residence which could compete with the Wawel Castle. Later it was destroyed three times (twice by the Swedes) and turned into ruins, which still attract tourists from all over the world and are eagerly used by the film industry (the castle will appear in the Netflix version of 'The Witcher').
Naturally, a visit to the Ogrodzieniec Castle is included in our Heritage Tour.
The Trail of the Eagles' Nests can become part of your tailor-made tour of Poland.