Tuesday, May 31, 2011

151/365: The castle ruins in Besiekiery

151/365: The castle ruins in Besiekiery
May 31st

What a sight. I read about these ruins in a guidebook to castles in the Lodz voivodship, and decided to make them the destination for my first 100+ km bike trip. (yes, it hurt, and yes, it was worth it.)

The village of Besiekiery itself is very small- a few houses, a small school, but it dates back to the 13th century. The name suggests that its original settlers were Scandinavian- viking mercenaries in the service of our first dynasty of kings, the Piasts. 'Besiekr' is a nordic word meaning 'man wearing a bear skin'. But in Polish, 'siekiera' means axe, and so there is also a legend about the devil Boruta (who also dipped his claws in the history of the nearby Royal Castle in Łęczyca) striking a deal with a local noble that would allow him to collect the man's soul if first he built him a castle without the use of an axe- without a siekiera. In Polish: Bez siekiery!

What the poor devil didn't know was that one of the labourers was named Siekierka...

Castle ruins in Besiekiery

Ruins in Besiekiery

But that's only a legend. The castle is a little younger than the settlement, having been built around the year 1500. It used to have a large tower which held the main gate and a chapel, an open courtyard and a three storey house in the back. It was modified several times over the years, but has been abandoned since the mid-19th century.

Castle ruins in Besiekiery


Currently, the municipality is gathering funds to revitalise the ruins and make them a safe and welcoming tourist attraction. So far they've strengthened the remainders of the main house and rebuilt the moat. There's a little beach, but swimming isn't a good idea as there is a lot of duckweed and leeches. Yuck!

Oh, another interesting thing about this castle is that it's home to a pair of storks.

King of the castle

They come every year to build their nests on top of the ruins. Storks are very popular in Poland, we consider them to be one of our national symbols.

The castle stork

The stork is a bird that brings luck, and it's very good to have one on your property- they say lightning will not strike where a stork has his nest. And because storks like high places, many landowners will set up a special post or build a platform on top of the barn roof, or in the branches of a dead tree, to encourage storks to make their nest there.

I saw more than one stork on my way to the village. It's the season!

Another stork

First stork!

Stork and haybale

On the map, red is my planned route, blue is the actual path I took. Some of those roads weren't roads at all! Google Maps doesn't know everything ;)

View Łódź - Besiekiery in a larger map


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