Shrouded in secrets within the Owl Mountains of southwestern Poland, there sits a magnificent castle where many Nazi conspiracy theories find their roots.
Ksiaz Castle is an impressive fortress rising up on a cliff embankment and surrounded by lush forests and immaculate gardens. With a history that dates to the 12th century, the imposing complex has had a wide variety of important owners and architectural acknowledgments that are worth a visit in their own right. Today, however, it is what lies under the castle that draws people’s attention.
Ksiaz was confiscated by the Nazis during World War II, and tens of thousands of Nazi prisoners, mainly Jews from Hungary and Poland, were forced to build a massive subterranean complex with 12-meter high ceilings beneath the Gothic and Baroque ramparts that rose above.
Most of the network of underground structures lie unfinished directly beneath the castle and in the surrounding area, all part of the mysterious Project Riese (German for “giant”). One of the largest Nazi construction projects during the war, Project Riese continues to baffle historians and scholars due to it’s top-secret status and the few documents that remain detailing it’s purpose. One thing is for certain: Upon completion of Project Riese the castle was to become Adolf Hitler’s personal headquarters.
It never did though. The project was never finished and Ksiaz was eventually captured by the Red Army which stole, destroyed, and secreted much of the information relevant to the project. To this day, little but word of mouth rumors and stories can be gleaned from locals who tell of secret atomic weapons or hidden Nazi trains that are laden with valuable art and treasure, said to be booby trapped with extensive weaponry and lying within the soil around the complex.
Every year, treasure seekers from around the globe can be found hunting the hills around the castle with metal detectors and dowsing rods, hoping to be the one to find a cache of Nazi gold or any sort of hint to the secrets the castle’s underground complexes may hold.
Know Before You Go
From Wroclaw, the castle is easy to get to by public services. Take a train from Wroclaw to Walbrzych-Miasto station which will take around an hour and thirty minutes and cost 14.60 zloty, and then jump on the number 8 or 12 bus. Alternatively you can drive the 70km from Wroclaw. Taxis from Walbrzych-Miasto are usually around 20-30 zloty.