On top of the village Klodzko you find the large fortress of Klodzko which used to be the biggest stronghold of the Prussian army in Silesia – though you would find bigger fortresses in other part of Germany back in the day.
The fortress has a long history since it had an important strategic location on the main route between Wroclaw and Prague. The first fortress at this location was probably a complex of wooden buildings protected by a wooden palisade. The first of these fortresses was conquered by the Bohemian army in 1114. The new Bohemian rulers improved the fortifications at the location and built a stronger fortress in 1129.
Around 1300 the local duke improved the fortress with a little castle which served as the main castle of the Klodzko County. The castle was slowly extended and in 1557 they added a church and a chapel within the walls of the fortress.
In 1622 the Austrian army laid siege to the castle during the thirty year war. The fortress finally surrendered and the area became a part of the Austrian empire. The Austrians started to modernize the bastions but it was completed in time of the Austrian War of Succession during which the Prussian army laid siege to the fortress in 1742. The fortress had been defended by 2,000 Austrian troops who held out for month but finally the last troops surrender. They were described as 200 pale soldiers – which was all that was left of the original garrison.
The Prussian held the fortress for the following two centuries though during the Napoleonic wars the fortress was conquered in 1807 by the French who were aided by the Bavarian army. The castle was slightly modernized after this and it was a stronghold in the eastern part of Germany up until the end of World War II.
During World War II the fortress was used as a prison camp and it also were part of a concentration camp which used the casemate as a safe place to have production under the ground where the allied bombers could disturb the production of war materials. The prisoners were forced to work in the tunnels under the ground to keep the war machine going for longer.
After World War II the area were turned over to Poland. The city of Klodzko didn’t surrender until May 9 – the day after the official surrender of all German troops and the city was turned over to the Soviet Army without any major damage – so the old strong hold survived and today it is a museum.
You can go around the large fortress and have a look at the large fortress which takes up a huge area of 17 hectares. From the fortress you have a great view of the surrounding area below the fortress. Within the fortress there are several small museums which display the history of the fortress. There are displays with the old hospital at the fortress where you can see how they did simple surgery in the old days – just cutting off limbs when people got wounded.
You can also have a look at some giant guns which were conquered from Czechoslovakia when Germany annexed the country. There are also displays of old uniforms from the soldiers who used to be stationed at the fortress.