Ghosts of Ogrodzieniec Castle in Poland

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What is it about old castle ruins that attract ghosts? Other than the obvious, of course—that castle ruins are just awesome. There's usually some story of an apparition, a strange beast, local legends of orbs or lights, or odd encounters with people who seem to be from another time period. Let's take a trip to Poland, to a small town called Ogrodzieniec, where a ghostly black dog (and maybe a few other spirits) haunts the ruins of a 14th-century castle.

Aerial shot of Ogrodzieniec castle ruins
Ogrodzieniec Castle in Poland.

Pronunciation of Ogrodzieniec


Go ahead and try to say that before you listen to a native Polish speaker saying the word. Here's how to pronounce Ogrodzieniec. Was your pronunciation close? Chances are that it was pretty far off if you don't speak Polish. In case you can't listen to that native Polish recording out loud, you can get a rough approximation of the word like this: au-grow-jean-yetz. (That's au as in, "Just fry and stop me from eating these au gratin potatoes.")

Ogrodzieniec, Poland

There's nothing like a map to show a place's location. The town of Ogrodzieniec is in the southern part of Poland and dates back to around the 11th century.

Google Map screenshot showing the location of Ogrodzieniec Castle in southern Poland.
Ogrodzieniec, Polska. (Polska is the Polish word for Poland. Now you know at least two Polish words. 🇵🇱)

Originally, Ogrodzieniec was a wooden castle in a forest settlement until sometime in 1241, when the entire place was burned to the ground during the first Mongol Invasion of Poland (there were three invasions). A Polish trumpeter saw the invading army, sounded the alarm, and then promptly took an arrow to the throat.

A crowd of spectators watching battling knights at the base of Ogrodzieniec Castle.
The castle ruins host an annual tournament of knights.

The invasion took less than a year before Polish armies lost to the Mongols. A new stone castle at Ogrodzieniec was built afterward. The Ogrodzieniec castle is one of twenty-five along a chain of medieval castles in southwestern Poland that make up the Trail of Eagles' Nests.

Aerial photo of Ogrodzieniec Castle with a village just behind it.
You can see how close the castle ruins are to the village of Podzamcze.

Reported Hauntings of Ogrodzieniec Castle

The ruins of Ogrodzieniec Castle are said to be prowled at night by a black dog that pulls a heavy chain. Some people believe the dog to be the spirit of a nobleman named Stanisław Warszycki, who was accused of cruelty against his peasants and rumored to have sold his soul to the Devil. He may have even built a "cave of tortures" at Ogrodzieniec. The castle does have a known torture chamber that you can still visit at the ruins.

Ogrodzieniec Castle in the winter. The torture chamber door is between the tall stone pillars.
Ogrodzieniec Castle in the winter. The torture chamber door is between the tall stone pillars.

There are a lot of stories about Stanisław Warszycki, and most of them paint him as a villain.

A black and white drawing of a man with a long beard.
Portrait of Stanislaw Warszycki by Jan Matejko from the 1800s.

Just to name a few of these stories: he blew up part of his wife and part of his own castle after suspecting she had an affair, he immured (enclosed her in part of the castle) his wife for being unfaithful or possibly for trying to poison him, and he promised a dowry to his daughter and then gave her nothing out of his own greed. Then again, he's also said to have held feasts for poor people and provided baths and clean clothes for them.

The truth isn't exactly clear, and we may never really know. What we do know, though, is that Stanisław Warszycki's ghost reportedly haunts at least three castles in the Trail of Eagles' Nests—one of which is at Ogrodzieniec, another at Danków and yet another at Olsztyn.

The black dog stalks the castle at night, supposedly guarding wealth that Stanisław Warszycki left behind, or perhaps as torment from the Devil for making an unholy bargain.

The ruins of Castle Ogrodzieniec under a full moon at night.
Imagine living in the village of Podzamcze and being able to take a short walk up to see this under the light of a full moon.

While researching the castle, I did find a few sources mentioning human ghosts in the vicinity, along with the black dog. I wasn't able to dig up much information on them, unfortunately, so if anyone reading this happens to know more, please do get in touch.

The black dog spirit reminds me of a fairly well-known legend from English and Nordic folklore: a church grim. A church grim is a spirit that takes the form of a black dog and protects churchyards from vandals, thieves, witches, warlocks, and even the Devil himself. They are supposed to come from the very first burial in a new churchyard, and some sites have even buried a black dog before burying any humans so that the dog's soul will stand guard instead of a human soul. You may have heard of these dogs via a legend, or maybe Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but if you want to see a fictional one in action, I'd highly recommend you check out the series: The Ancient Magus' Bride.

As far as the legend of the church grim and the stories of the black dog of Ogrodzieniec Castle go, their duty seems to be similar in that they are both guarding something, but their motivations are quite different. Outside the churchyard, there are dozens of other legends of black dogs from folklore around the world—many of which are thought to be connected with the Devil and generally considered malevolent. Tales of black dogs are so prevalent, in fact, that one of the most famous stories ever written, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, features them and may have been inspired by authentic English folklore.

If you're ever out at Ogrodzieniec Castle at night and you hear chains rattling, you may want to run—or that could actually turn you into prey for the black dog to hunt, as turning and running from wildlife predators is typically a bad idea. How exactly would you handle a malevolent black dog stalking you? 🤔

A bag of Punk-In Spirit Soft Baked Pumpkin & Peanut Butter Dog Treats. The bag shows a dog wearing a ghost costume, carrying a pumpkin trick or treat basket.
Punk-In Spirit Soft Baked Pumpkin & Peanut Butter Dog Treats. You can buy them right here at Shameless Pets. Of course, if the black dog spirit is Stanisław Warszycki, you'll want to toss a few gold coins on the ground as well, just to be safe.

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