In The Hussar’s Duty, in Chapter 13, “Podolia,” Jacek and Oliwia begin their journey to the Commonwealth’s southeastern border. In a deleted scene, they spend a brief stay among the dilapidated walls of Ogrodzieniec (Oh-grow-jin-yetz) Castle. Ogrodzieniec (I can almost spell it now without having to peek!) is one the famed medieval castles along the Trail of the Eagles’ Nests in Poland’s south-central region known as the Polish Jura, or the Polish Jurassic Highland.
These castles and fortresses were mostly built in the 14th century by order of King Kazimierz III (portrait featured right), also known as Casimir the Great, son of Władysław Łokietec. Kazimierz’s father is referred to in historical accounts as Ladislaus the Elbow-High, though I’ll have to dig a bit deeper to discover how he acquired this, um, unique tag. An interesting sidebar: According to Norman Davies in his book God’s Playground, A History of Poland, Volume I, The Origins to 1795, father and son were the real founders of the Polish monarchy.
The strongholds ordered by Kazimierz III were meant to fortify Poland’s western border, but as time went on and the need for defensive positions in this area waned, the castles fell into disrepair.
By the time Jacek and Oliwia arrive in Ogrodzieniec Castle in 1620, its owners aren’t in residence, and the ravages of time and neglect are evident. And, according to my research, this is how they would have found it. Oliwia is quite anxious to leave the place behind, and no wonder. Damp, crumbling walls and resident rats don’t make for a cozy stay.
I visited the castle myself in 2017 and was struck by how vast and magnificent it must have been at one time. Ah, for want of a time travel machine!
Now another fascinating tidbit I stumbled upon is that Netflix’s The Witcher, starring Henry Cavill, has used the ruins of Ogrodzieniec Castle for its filming. And did you know that The Witcher is a book series originally written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski? I didn’t until I delved into the castle’s background. I’ve never watched the series, but now I feel compelled to binge.
Another fun fact I uncovered is that in 1984, Ogrodzieniec Castle was a backdrop for the band Iron Maiden’s video feature Behind the Iron Curtain (Live In Poland 1984, where they performed the song “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” If you’re interested, here’s the YouTube link. It’s a bit grainy but sort of fun to follow along.The song starts at around 31:35 mins., and the castle appears at approximately 31:57 mins. The performance is peppered with old black-and-white film clips depicting battle scenes between what appear to be Templars and Ottomans … I think.
Ogrodzieniec Castle may lie in ruins, but it is still quite a draw. I hope to get back there someday very soon.