Olsztyn – Olsztyn Castle

The castle was the first structure to be built in the city, an important part of the defensive network that aimed to protect it. Work started on the building in the middle fourteenth century and it was called into action to defend Allenstein (the old name for Olsztyn) throughout the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Today, since 1945, the castle and its buildings are used as the area’s regional museum, with the above gateway now being the entrance into the museum. The access across into the museum is now built up, but visitors would once go across a bridge to secure entry into the castle complex.

The ticket office is separate to the main museum itself, something that seems common in eastern Europe and Russia, although it’s all clearly signed. The main castle building looks impressive after entering the courtyard of the castle complex. This also contains the refectory room which was used by Nicolaus Copernicus when he was the administrator here.

The well in the courtyard which is 14.5 metres deep, although it’s covered with wire to prevent some idiot falling into it.

Baba Pruskie, originally created by the Teutonic Knights, with their history being a little unclear, but they are now a symbol of the region. There is a display in the main town square which marks 100 years since the independence of Poland and this features more modern versions of the Baba Pruskie.

The castle has been much changed over the centuries, both externally and internally. The main tower was reconstructed in the sixteenth century and now stands over 40 metres high.

The two photos above show what the roof looks like from underneath, and then from above. It looks like a complex structure that’s about to fall down from above, but much more spectacular from underneath. Apparently the style is called crystal vaulting, a Gothic style mostly limited to Polish territories.

A recreated room showing what village life was once like in the region.

It looks older, but this wooden sculpture dates from the nineteenth century.

Scarily real when standing up close. I quite like the idea of getting a few of these done of me and then giving them to friends to put on their walls.

Always nice to see old books on display.

This is the experimental table of Nicolaus Copernicus, perhaps the most treasured artefact that the museum owns. It was created by Copernicus himself in around 1516, when he was the keeper of the castle, and it enabled him to experiment with the equinox and its impact on the calendar. It’s slightly remarkable that it has survived at all, the lines running across are where partitions have been added to the walls over the centuries.

After visiting the main part of the museum the staff member guided me over to the tower area across the courtyard.

Oh good, steps.

And more steps. But safety first, properly protect the gas and electricity lines that someone has built across the staircase.

And more steps to get to the top. This are as steep as they look, and to be honest, they reminded me of what Striding Edge looked like when I gazed down onto it. They weren’t the easiest to ascend in size 12 shoes either.

This is the roof section within the tower building, but fortunately visitors don’t have to clamber across this.

This is the area at the top of the tower where visitors can enter.

Nice views from the top of the tower. Although the next problem then presented itself to me, which is just one of those very British problems. Someone said to me, in Polish, that it was a difficult climb to the top. I agreed, using my vast knowledge of Polish to say “yes”. Anyway, enthused by my conversational ability the visitor then talked for ages in Polish, by which time it’s too late to admit that I haven’t got a clue what he’s now talking about. So I say yes a lot, which appears to be the correct answer. Or at least a suitable answer, so crisis averted.

Overall, this is a well presented and clearly laid out museum, although a visit isn’t likely to take much more than an hour. The staff are helpful and the majority of the displays are in English, although a few haven’t been translated. I’d have ideally though liked to have seen more on the history of the building itself, as it’s a complex structure which has been much changed and it’s hard to establish when various reconstruction works have taken place.