Sixteen Polish castles awarded Google Golden Pins
Awarded to the places rated highest by Google’s users, sixteen Polish castles and palaces have been issued with Google Golden Pins to signify their popularity and essential touristic value.
Based on user reviews, the rankings were heavily tilted towards the celebrities of Poland’s castle and palace circuit, with A-listers such as Malbork, Wawel and Warsaw’s Royal Castle all namechecked with scores of 4.8, 4.7 and 4.7 respectively.
Accompanied by brief write-ups inside a slick e-booklet, one landmark was selected for each voivodeship of Poland.
Warsaw’s castle was highlighted as “one of the most important royal residences in Europe” and praised for its “dazzling interior design”. Rebuilt from the ashes after being levelled by the Germans, its remarkable comeback was also underlined.
Malbork, meanwhile, was called “one of the greatest castles in Medieval Europe” with Google also quick to note that it had been issued with a Golden Pin before in 2020 – that time, Malbork was selected as ‘the best tourist destination’ in the region.
Collecting 135,000 user reviews, Wawel was by far the most reviewed of all the selected landmarks and was called “a symbol of statehood”.
“Stories about the dragon, three ghosts haunting the castle and the Zygmunt Bell add colour and magic to this unique place,” continued Google. Like Malbork, this was also the second Golden Pin that had been earned by the castle.
From all the selected places, three scored 4.8. Aside from Malbork, these were Lubuskie’s Zatonie Palace, a romantic 17th century ruin set in a revitalised 52-hectare landscaped park.
Also topping the table was Krzyżtopór in Świętokrzyskie. Constructed to feature 365 windows, 52 chambers, 12 halls and four towers to correspond with the number of days, weeks, months and seasons, it was the largest palace in Europe before the birth of Versailles.
Describing its ruined hulk as “breathtaking”, Google cited it as a place that “awakens the imagination”.
The results have, inadvertently, spotlighted the sheer diversity of Poland’s noble landmarks. Of the iconic places that feature on the rollcall, several today are little more than skeletal but enchanting ruins.
In this respect, the Teutonic Castle in Radzyń Chełmiński was praised for its extraordinary ambience. Once considered among the most beautiful examples of Teutonic architecture in Poland, today its hollow carcass has made it the perfect backdrop for films such as Pan Samochodzik.
Similarly, Ogrodzieniec Castle also made the cut. “It is an example of the craftsmanship of old builders who, over the centuries, turned Ogrodzieniec into an impressive magnate residence,” wrote Google of this striking hilltop husk.
In stark contrast, several pristine looking jewels have been listed, among these Białystok’s Branicki, an exuberantly Baroque effort sometimes dubbed ‘the Polish Versailles’, as well as the Zamoyski Palace in Kozłówka which was hailed as being “one of the best-preserved aristocratic residences in Poland”.
Spanning all ages and varying dramatically in size and style the breadth of the nation’s touristic offer has been amply demonstrated by Google’s findings, something that manifests itself via the inclusion of several lesser-known gems that often fall under-the-radar.
In the Łódź Voivodeship, the Gothic, moat-enclosed castle in Oporów topped the popularity stakes with 4.7, whilst in Warmia-Masuria – an area particularly spoiled for choice – the castle in Lidzbark Warmiński finished first with an average score of 4.6 gleaned from 2,000 opinions.
Accessed by a wooden bridge, and fringed by a swan-filled moat, it was once visited by Napoleon and King Zygmunt III Vasa, and it was inside this Teutonic bastion that the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus is thought to have written the introduction to his defining work, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium.
Gołuchów in Wielkopolska, notable for its pointy Renaissance turrets, exquisite art collection and elegant gardens scored 4.7, a rating shared by the Lubomirski and Potocki Castle in Łańcut in Podkarpackie.
“The place is famous for its beautiful interiors and an extremely interesting collection of horse-drawn vehicles,” write Google.
“The palace complex is surrounded by an old, picturesque park in the English style, with numerous pavilions and farm buildings, once closely related to the everyday life of the Łańcut residence.”
Predictably, Książ Castle in Lower Silesia attracted an avalanche of votes with 44,000 people giving it an average score of 4.7. Described as “the pearl of Silesia”, it was credited for beautiful, terraced gardens and the rich history that has made it such an attraction.
“It is said that Książ is haunted by Princess Daisy, the wife of Hans Heinrich XV, who was forced to leave the estate in 1940,” mention Google, before speculating about the presence of the much-storied Nazi ‘gold train’ in the mysterious tunnels carved beneath.
Finally, pushing up the rear, mention is also given to the Dukes Castle in Szczecin, West Pomerania, received the lowest score in the pack, with 11,000 users judging it worth an overall mark of 4.5.
“The post-war reconstruction lasted until the 1980s,” say Google, “with the current shape of the monument a reflection of its turbulent history.
First launched in 2020, Google’s Golden Pins were created in a bid to boost tourism at a time when the industry had been ravaged by the pandemic.
Originally awarded to the best touristic attractions in each Voivodeship, the awards returned in 2022 when attention was given to Poland’s best national parks and nature reserves.