Villages in the Rudawy Janowickie
Rudawy Janowickie Mountains
tourism, mystery, dreams...



370-410 m above sea level

Situated at an altitude of approximately 370-410 m above sea level in the picturesque valley of the Karpnicki stream, between the Sokole and the Rudawy Janowickie mountains, the village of Karpniki lies close to Trzcińsko, Strużnica, Gruszków, Krogulec and Wojanów.

The architecture is varied, from Upper Lusatian, timber, timber-and-brick and brick houses to splendid villas and palaces.

Apart from its historical buildings, Karpniki is also famous for its ponds. The Karpniki ponds constitute a valuable habitat of fauna and flora, including numerous species of waterfowl, marsh birds, and numerous trees dotted around the reservoirs classed as Monuments of Nature. This is currently a Natura 2000 special area for the protection of natural habitats.

Karpniki is blossoming again today. Its historical buildings are undergoing thorough renovation, while the range of accommodation at the foot of the Rudawy Janowickie and Sokole mountains is flourishing.

Visitors to Karpniki should look out for the following – all entered in the register of the National Heritage Board of Poland:

Church of St Hedwig (14th-19th c)church cemeterychurch wall and gateEvangelical church (mid 18th c)2 residential buildingsformer rectory (18th c)ruins of Sokolec "Falcon Stone" castle (14th-15th c)palace complexpalace (1st half of 17th c) 1838-1846[JdW1] park (post 1820)linden avenue in the direction of Łomnica (mid 19th c)villa complex (building no. 41), ul. Stawowa 12 (1875)timber-and-brick villaparkvilla, ul. Rudawska 2 (1898)hydroelectric mill (no. 93)"Swiss Cottage" timber hostel (1823)farm building


History, history... History is always told, but is it always right? When was Karpniki really founded? Does anybody know the precise answer? The first documented mentions of Karpniki as a rent-paying village date back to 1305, although not under the name as we know it today.

Its past names were Wysbach (1300), Crossen-Fischbach,... Vischbach (1393), Fischbach (1825), and finally Karpniki (1945). And just as the name changed over the centuries, so also the village underwent various transformations.

In 1305 the village was in the Duchy of Jawor. Not far from the village, in the Sokole Mountains, the Sokolec "Falcon Stone" castle was built as the main residence of the lord ruling the village. The oldest surviving document, from 1372 (and according to other sources from 1369), gave the castle's owner as the courtier of Princess Agnes (widow of Duke Bolko II), Clericos von Bolitz (Clericus Bolcze). But let's go further back, to the 12th century...

Why? Because that is when Karpniki is believed to have been established. Documents link the village to Duke Henry I the Bearded, who is thus also attributed with the initiative of erecting the Sokolec watchtower castle there in 1207. A castle legend tells of the Duke finding the nest of a hawk or falcon at the spot, thus explaining the genesis of the castle's name ('sokół' is Polish for falcon).

In 1389 the village was sold by its successive owner, Rydygier Wiltberg, to Titze Schindz. It then passed into the hands of Kuncze auf Predel (nephew of the abbot von Czirn) in 1432, who in turn sold it to his relative Beeler von Rychbach in 1438. Karpniki next passed into the possession of the chancellor of the Świdnica-Jawor duke, Hans Schoff zu Gotsche (Schaffgotsch), owner of Chojnik castle and Stara Kamienica. He is considered the the first builder of today's Karpniki Palace, and this village became his family home. Following his death in 1464, it passed on to one of his sons, and in 1580 Adam – the last in the Schaffgotsch line – sold Karpniki to Friedrich von Canitz und Talowitz. The sum the village was sold for was very substantial for the day, at 25,000 thalers. The Schaffgotsch family was yet to be entwined in the history of this place (and elsewhere as well).

Karpniki switched owners, and the residents' faith was put to the test. Around the year 1532 a fair portion of the villagers converted to Protestantism, which also entailed a switch for the parish church from Catholic to Evangelical.

Talowitz passed away after five years of ruling Karpniki, and the property was inherited by his son Christoph Friederik Canitz. In 1593 a stroke of lighting caused a fire to break out in Karpniki palace, and a year later the building was thoroughly rebuilt. Buildings erected on a quadrilateral plan filled the land inside the moat.

Neither the village nor the castle were spared by the Thirty Years' War. And if the fighting had not caused enough damage, in 1632 the village succumbed to the plague, losing 55 human lives – including (although this information has not been verified) the castle's owner, Christoph Friederik Canitz. The property was then to remain in the hands of his widow, Lucrettia von Canitz, until 1648.

In the years 1633-1634 Karpniki and the vicinity were plundered by imperial troops, followed by Swedish forces who were garrisoned in the village during this period.

In 1651 Karpniki once again [JdW2] came under the rule of the widow Johanna von Winterfeld. There was a serious revolt in the village a year later, and the dispute was settled in court in Jawor in 1655. The defiance broke out among the peasants, protesting against excessive corvée. Karpniki was a wealthy village, with its own brewery, water mills and fish ponds (around 10 of them), and was home to 20 crofters and 24 peasants. According to documents, 400 sheep and 58 cattle were kept at the grange.

The church converted back to Catholicism in 1654, and as a result Protestant services were said secretly in the nearby forests. That changed in 1709, when Protestants were able to go to church in Jelenia Góra.

The years passed by and the village passed from owner to owner. From 1658 it belonged to Anne Elizabeth von Schoenaich, and from 1679 to Count Balthazar von Hoynow up until 1725. The property returned to another line of the Schaffgotsch family, the owner becoming Count Franz Wilhelm von Schaffgotsch. Karpniki expanded over the years, and its value as an estate was estimated at 30,000 thalers. It was home to approximately 120 serfs (among whom 80 were craftspeople), 21 peasants and 37 crofters.

A prayer house was built for the requirements of the two religious factions then in the village, and in 1748 a masonry church was erected with a tower, and a rectory was built in 1778. Thus two houses of prayer were built in the village, one for the Catholics and the other for the Evangelicals.

Hans Anton Siebeneicher, later to become a famous sculptor, was born in Karpniki in the early 18th century. His works can be seen today in the Basilica in Krzeszów, well-known throughout Lower Silesia. He and Antoni Dorasil are responsible for the church's décor, and the basilica is currently under UNESCO protection.

After Count Schaffgotsch died in 1774, the village – as crown land – was designated for the monastery in Krzeszów. It was leased by the builder of the Krzeszów monastery, Johann Gottlob Feller.

When Karpniki became part of the property of the Krzeszów monastery, it was acquired in 1784 by Count Friedrich von Reden. He sold the village in 1787 to Count Carl G.H. von Hoym, who in turn sold the property in 1789 to Baron Kaspar Konrad von Zedlitz.

The year 1822 proved a time of fundamental change for the village. It was a year when the castle and estate went into the possession of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia (brother to King Frederic William III of Prussia, who acquired nearby Mysłakowice) and his wife Marianna. From this point on both Karpniki and Mysłakowice were summer royal residences within what is now the Rudawy Landscape Park. The castle underwent numerous modifications, and became a centre of art and culture. It was home to magnificent collections of art and a rich library. Numerous performances were also staged there.

The celebrities of the day would assemble at the castle in summer, and included Tsar Nicholas, Princess Alexandra and Olga Teodorowa, and – as certain sources claim – Empress Catherine II. As for the Polish aristocracy, the Radziwiłł family were frequent guests.

Year by year Karpniki was transforming from a small settlement into a vibrant village. In 1825 it boasted two churches (Catholic and Evangelical), 209 homesteads, a brewery, dyeworks, two mills, a brickyard, inn and a shelter for the poor. The wife of Tsar Nicholas II, Alexandra, and the King of Prussia Frederic William III, set up a fund in 1830 of some 10,200 thalers for poor elderly folk in the estate.

A Catholic school was opened in the estate in 1836. Four years later – according to records – Karpniki had 41 craftspeople, 15 merchants, and around 123 loom shops. Following Wilhelm's death, the property was inherited by the Hessen-Darmstadt dukes, and remained in their possession until 1945.

By the latter half of the 19th century the village was attracting large numbers of tourists, mainly thanks to the castle and its abundant collections. There were two inns offering lodgings in Karpniki, and the collections were open to visitors when the castle owners were absent. An entry ticket in 1880 cost 50 pfennigs. Ticket prices changed, and at the turn of the 20th century cost 25 pfennigs, and in 1925 – 2.50 marks. As the numbers of tourists grew, Karpniki evolved into a tourist centre, and it is believed it could accommodate around 100 visitors at a time in the years between the wars. There was also a hotel, and around the year 1939 the museum – which the castle and its collections had become – was open every day except Mondays, for four hours. In 1943-1945 the palace was used to store numerous works of art which the last conservator of the province of Silesia, Gunther Grundmann, managed to save from the Soviet forces.

Accounts tell us that during World War II there was a camp for forced labourers in the village. When the War ended, the castle's collections were removed, some to be lost. Karpniki's historical buildings began to fall into ruin, and this continued up until the turn of the 21st century. Currently they are gradually starting to blossom again, mainly thanks to their renovation.

Translation Jonathan Weber


Register of historical real estate in the Lower Silesian voivodeship. National Heritage Board of Poland [access on 26 August 2012], pp. 50-51.Kapałczyński W., Napierała P. „Zamki, pałace i dwory Kotliny Jeleniogórskiej". Fundacja Doliny Pałaców i Ogrodów Kotliny Jeleniogórskiej. Wrocław 2005."Dolina Zamków i Ogrodów. Kotlina Jeleniogórska - wspólne dziedzictwo". Red. O. Czerner, A. Herzig. Muzeum Okręgowe w Jeleniej Górze. Berlin i Jelenia Góra 2003

4  ,„Słownik geografii turystycznej Sudetów. Rudawy Janowickie". Red. M. Staffa.     Wyd. I-BIS. Wrocław 1998