Pałac w Bożkowie by Tobi_urbex #01

Hands-down, this castle in the South of Poland is one of the most splendid palaces in the whole country. Leading figures from all around the world came to see this mansion but suddenly it all stopped when the site was abandoned more than 20 years ago. What happened to the former residents? From a distance, it still seems like a real-life fairy-tale castle. But take a closer look and you see that the facade is crumbling and that this is place is full of scars. Discover the sad history of one of Poland’s most beautiful undisclosed landmarks.

Pałac w Bożkowie by Tobi_urbex #04

On our multi-day road trip to Poland, we were exploring several stunning abandoned places. We were camping in overgrown castle grounds, infiltrating defunct power plants and venturing into long-forgotten parts of the country. But none of these places were as overwhelming as the manor we want to feature this time.

Pałac w Bożkowie #02

We are in the South of the country, close to the Czech Republic. In a valley of three mountains, Bożków is located. It is a village with a population of around 1,500 people. Its history dates back to the 14th century. It was called Eckersdorf for most of the time, which is German. Not until 1945, the village was incorporated to Poland. Normally we do not share the locations of the places we are exploring in order to protect them. But if it is a visit with permission, we make an exception. And on this day, we were lucky to get a tour of the castle by a real contemporary witness.

Pałac w Bożkowie by Tobi_urbex #20

Today’s shape of the manor house is the result of a reconstruction after a huge fire around 1870. But originally, it was already built in the 16th century. In the course of time, different aristocratic families were living here. They all were expanding and rebuilding their home. As a result, different architectural styles are combined in this grand building complex. The current appearance reminds of a French castle. It can be described as a style of neo-Renaissance and neo-Baroque. During its final years before it was abandoned, the structure was used as a school. Today, one of the former teachers is housed in a side wing to take care of the property. Sometimes he allows curious visitors to come inside and experience the history of this magnificent place at first-hand.

Pałac w Bożkowie #04

During his tour through the spacious chambers of the mansion, this guy told us the history of the place. Too bad, we did not understand a word because we do not speak any Polish. So, we had to use Google afterward to learn about the story. The next picture shows what might be the center of the palace: It is a prestigious ballroom which nearly stretches two floors. This is one of the oldest places in the whole building complex. It even survived the devastating fire which destroyed large parts of the castle around 1870. Pomp and a variety of elaborate details were supposed to impress all the high-ranking visitors. But after years of neglect, the castle is falling apart today.

Pałac w Bożkowie by Tobi_urbex #08

It is not much known about this site from the time before the big fire and the major reconstructions. But it is recorded that several prominent personalities from the past were invited here. Next to famous Friedrich Wilhelm III, King of Prussia, and his son and heir to the throne Friedrich Wilhelm IV, there was also John Quincy Adams from the US coming to see this castle. Adams later became the sixth president of the United States of America. Today’s leftovers are just a pitiful remnant of what the pompous manor must have been in the past with its ornate corridors and the monumental staircases. The fall of the castle started 75 years ago. There are two reasons why this gem is in such disrepair today. At first, it was communism and later capitalism.

Pałac w Bożkowie #07

In 1945, World War Two was over and the aristocratic family who owned the castle was expelled from their homeland by the Soviets. The site was now property of the newly created Polish People's Republic which was a satellite state of the Soviet Union. From now on, the mansion was vacant and started to decay for the first time. After a provisional renovation in 1956, it was decided to use parts of the building complex as a school for officials and agricultural college. New life was breathed into the derelict structure and it started to thrive again. In the 1970s, the palace was completely refurbished. And since 1981 it is protected as a historic monument. The castle was as enchanting as it was during the times of its most grandeur. And it went on for many years, but then at the end of the 20th century, the school was closed and the huge mansion was lying idle again. This was the start of a downward spiral beyond all comparison.

Pałac w Bożkowie by Tobi_urbex #14

In the following years, the palace was burglarized and most of the furnishings were stolen. The Cold War was over and foreign investors were welcomed to Poland. Now, the castle was handed over to a company from Sweden that promised to restore its former glory. However, since nothing happened for years, the site was sold to another investor in 2005. This time, it seemed to be different. The new Irish owner announced a marvelous transformation from a forgotten palace to a luxury hotel and convention center with its own golf course in the spacious park. But guess what, this was just another bitter disappointment. None of these visions were realized and the building stock which was still in a good condition until then was now going to rack. The roof was damaged and water was soaking in. The Irish investor was bold enough to put up the residence for sale for tenfold the price he was paying earlier. Thieves were breaking in again and stole the valuable paintings and sculptures. This is why you will not find any of them today. Fungus started to spread, the stuccoed ceiling was falling apart, plaster was crumbling and due to moisture, the parquet floor was rotting away. The putrid smell was now everywhere. Chambers which were once splendid were now heaps of rubble. The monument was turned into a ruin. But there was new hope only ten years ago when a Polish company bought the castle. Also this time, a substantial renovation was promised. And also this time, nothing happened. We stopped counting how many rescue attempts there were. As you can see, this is a sad and never-ending story.

Pałac w Bożkowie #03

In the end, there is not much to say. We tried to unveil all the secrets of the manor and shared its story with you. This journey into the past was an emotional up and down. But word is that there is a new owner now and he wants to bring back the glory for real this time. But let us see if he can make up for the damage investors before him were causing. Until then, the old teacher is watching the manor, as a lonely inhabitant of the big house. This castle has an outstanding artistic and historical value, concerning both architecture and interior décor. It is the cultural heritage of the region. But yet, it is neglected and falling into disrepair. Most of the bad things were happening in those last 20 to 30 years. The centuries before, the castle was flourishing. So, what does this say about our age?

Pałac w Bożkowie #01

Sorry that we have only uploaded a few photos. This is a fantastic place rich in variety. To see more of this stunning castle, you should watch this documentary about the site: