The phoenix city of Warsaw, the royal city of Kraków, or Gdańsk, the city of amber - yes, there are places in Poland that are loved and frequented by tourists, and need no introduction. But to get the full picture of Poland, it’s worth visiting places that are usually not included in the best-of-Poland kind of tours. Or even stepping off the beaten path to explore places unscathed by crowds of tourists. Who knows what pearls you may find?
If you’re curious what’s out there just waiting for you to see when you take one step further into the unknown, remember to check out our blog every now and then. We will give you a glimpse of it. If you’ve already been to Poland, maybe you’ll find your excuse to come back. And come back again. And again! Because every reason to come to Poland is a good reason.
Talking about good reasons, how about a combination of a fairytale castle and a Nazi conspiracy theory? Well, welcome to Książ Castle, an impressive fortress that dates back to the 13th century!
This fairytale-like piece of architecture, surrounded by well-kept gardens and a landscape park, is worth visiting per se. But the beauty of it is not what draws so many people there. It’s its mysterious history.
During World War II the castle was confiscated by the Nazis. It was adapted for the needs of the management of the state-owned railways. The historic interiors were destroyed in the process. Parts of the collection of the Prussian State Library were also stored there. The castle was supposed to become Hitler’s new headquarters. But it never did and some scholars believe it was just a cover for something much bigger.
What interests visitors the most is actually not the castle itself, but what lies beneath it: a large underground complex with two levels of tunnels and chambers , reinforced by concrete. Tens of thousands of forced laborers, prisoners of war and prisoners of concentration camps worked on building it and many of them lost their lives due to disease and malnutrition. The complex formed part of Project Riese, one of the biggest and darkest mysteries of World War II. Most of the structures were not finished, because soon the war ended.
The tunnels under Książ Castle have been open for tourists since 2016. But why were they built in the first place? Nobody knows. The construction work was top secret and the castle was eventually taken over by the Red Army, which destroyed many of the documents that could help historians solve the mystery. It might have been a secret military factory, a place to store valuable things and documents or even a secret nuclear laboratory.
There are rumors of hidden treasures or even a booby trapped train full of gold and pieces of art. Treasure hunters from all over the world wander on the hill, equipped with metal detectors, hoping to get rich and famous.
We might never solve the mystery of Książ castle nor find any lost gold, but there’s one thing we can be sure of: the castle itself is a treasure. One of many treasures that you can discover in Poland.