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On the foaming waters of the Dunajec River – the Pieniny Castles

On the foaming waters of the Dunajec River – the Pieniny Castles

Dunajec Castle, Niedzica

The Castle Museum Complex in Niedzica
tel.: 0048 18 2629489

May – Sept.:
daily, 9.00 AM – 7.00 PM;

Oct. – Nov.:
Tue. – Sun.: 9.00 AM – 4.00 PM;
guided tours only, ticket includes a tour of the castle and coach house.

Getting there
The castle is 110 km from Krakow: first take the Zakopane road, i.e. Road No. 7, to Zabornia, follow Road No. 47 to Nowy Targ and then head for Szczawnica on Road No. 969. In Dębno, turn off and drive through Frydman and Falsztyn, on the southern shore of Lake Czorsztyńskie. The castle, known as Niedzica Castle, is situated at the upper end of the village and there is a large car park.
Accommodation, food and drink The castle offers both a restaurant and a café.
One of the most beautiful buildings of its kind, Dunajec Castle, in Niedzica, became well-known in 1946, following the discovery here of a mysterious lead case containing a quipu, or ‘talking knots’, a device for recording data by encoding values in a system of knots made in thread or strings, which was used in the Inca Empire in Peru! Allegedly, what was encoded in the ‘Dunajec Quipu’ was information as to the secret hiding place of the golden treasure of the Incas… In all likelihood, the quipu was brought to Dunajec by Sebastián Berzeviczy, one of the family who owned the castle; he had travelled to Peru in the late 18th century. The story has it that, while there, he married an Inca and their daughter, Umina, became wife to the last descendant of the Inca kings, Tupaca Amaru.

The castle itself is an architectural gem. The oldest part is the Gothic Upper Ward. Dating from the 14th century, it was built on the site of Kokos of Brezovica’s wooden-and-earth fortlet. That part of the fortress is perched at the very peak of a rocky hill on the Dunajec. In the 15th century, the owner of Niedzica, Emeryk Zápolya, of the famous Hungarian family, added the Middle Ward. However, the greatest changes took place at the turn of the 16th century. Ján Horváth, who ruled Niedzica at that time, extended the stronghold in the Renaissance style. The new, galleried courtyard was surrounded by a wall, with a tower crowned in the Attic style. Subsequent owners, namely the Giovanellis, followed by the Horváths once again and, finally, the Salomons, who made the castle their home right up until 1943, made few further changes. Plundered at the end of World War II, the castle was restored. In the area housing the living quarters, a small museum is now open to visitors, who are also able to enjoy the viewing terraces of the Middle and Upper Wards. They offer a view of Lake Czorsztyńskie, with the picturesque ruins of Czorsztyn Castle on the far shore, and of the steep, rocky slopes of the Pieniny and Gorce Mountains.

What else is worth seeing?
When visiting Niedzica and Czorsztyn, it would be impossible not to make the most of the occasion and see a stunning piece of Nature’s handiwork, Dunajec Gorge, in the Pieniny Mountains. The best way is to take to the waters with the experienced mountain raftsmen, who adroitly slip their small rafts between the boulders and precipitous, rocky crags of the Three Crowns Massif, or Sokolica. The water trail sets out from Sromowce Wyżne-Kąty and winds up in either Szczawnica or Krościenko.

The Polish Association of Pieniny Raftsmen (Polskie Stowarzyszenie Flisaków Pienińskich)
tel.: 0048 18 2629721
  • Program regionalny
  • województwo maloposkie
  • Unia Europejska
The following Project is cofinanced by the European Union under the Małopolska Regional Operational Programme for the years 2007 – 2013