When we were driving from Szczecin towards Lower Silesia on the south side of Poland, we thought the highway seemed pretty dull, mainly because we drove it so many times before, so we ditched it to drive through some side roads instead.
We didn’t really expect anything except fields, smaller cities, and some villages, so imagine our surprise when we drove past some interestingly looking medieval walls. As it looked intriguing and the sun was just setting, giving this phenomenal yellow glow, we decided to stop and explore a little.
This way, we have discovered Kożuchów city, first mentioned already in 1273, when it got city rights. The town was established at the intersection of trade routes, making it grow fast and rich. The city’s economic strength was numerous guilds (including clothiers, butchers, carpenters, brewers), as well as merchants who traded at fairs in Wielkopolska. In the 15th century, Kożuchów even gained the privilege of minting its own coin.
The good days lasted until the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48) when many misfortunes befell the city. The town had to face the invasion of Saxon-Swedish troops, later driven away by the imperial army, depriving Protestants of the right to practice their own religion, and many fires, which started its inevitable decline. Additionally, in the 18th century, another fire broke out, consuming 200 houses in the vicinity. Subsequently, the city never managed to rise again to its previous glory.
The city looks quite interesting, however from the first glance, you could see it is a relatively poor and neglected neighborhood. However, I could see a vast potential if it ever gets restored and renovated.
We didn’t spend much time exploring as we still had 5 hours of driving ahead of us, but we noticed a couple of interesting places while passing by.
What to see
The defensive walls are one of the biggest attractions of Kożuchów, and the thing that attracted us to the city in the first place. Their original length was about 1050 meters, surrounded by 20 meters wide moat, most of it still standing today. They used to be up to 8 meters high and 1.9 meters thick, with four city gates. Unfortunately, the gates didn’t survive, and the height of the walls was reduced to only 5 meters, supplying materials for new housing. In one of the stone towers, once standing at the Krosno Gate, which was pulled down in the 18th century, there is an exhibition devoted to the city’s history.
Castle in Kozuchów
The castle was built at the end of the 13th century. In the following years, the building underwent reconstruction several times. In the 15th and 16th century the castle was a fief of Polish kings: John I Albert, Sigismund I of Poland, and Sigismund II Augustus. And in the 17th century, Carmelites took over the ownership of the property and used it as their monastery. At that time, the structure was completely altered to adapt it to its new function. In 1810 the monastery of the Carmelite Order ceased to exist, after which the municipality took over ownership of the monastery-castle, converted it to an armory, and used it for military purposes. Nowadays, it is open to the public, hosting conferences and events.
The market square
The market square in Kożuchów is quite small. It is surrounded by tenement houses, the oldest of which date back to the 16th century. In the middle of the square stands a bizarre town hall. It consists of three parts: gothic from 1489, a classicist from 1848-49, and modern from 1963-66. The building was simply unlucky – it burned down several times and had to be rebuilt.
While walking around the city, it is worth paying attention to some interesting places:
- Church of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Kożuchów (Parish of St. Mother of Candles)
- the 18th-century facade of the building at Klasztorna Street with reliefs depicting St. Peter and Paul
- A water tower from 1908, located at the highest point of the city
- The surviving tower of the Evangelical church from 1826
- lapidarium from the 17th century