February 27, 2012
0133 POLAND (Lesser Poland) - The castle that hides the treasure of Incas
Niedzica Castle (also known as Dunajec Castle) is located in the southernmost part of Lesser Poland (Małopolska), in the Pieniny mountains, on a hill 300 m upstream from the Dunajec River mouth, and it was an important centre of Polish-Hungarian relations since the 14th century. Built by the Hungarian Kokoš from Brezovica between 1320 and 1326, in 1470 it became the property of the Zápolya family. In 1528 Viliam Drugeth got the surrounding county (including the castle) from John Zápolya as a reward for the support of his aspirations for the Hungarian throne, on which he occupied two years earlier.
Sixty years later it became the property of Hieronim Łaski and his son Olbracht, and at the end of the 16th century it was bought by Ján Horváth from Plaveč. Through the centuries the fortress was renovated many times by its successive owners. The last countess Salamon left it in 1943, two years before the Red Army to occupy. The final reconstruction of the castle was completed in 1963 under the supervision of the Polish Ministry of Culture, and ever since it has served as a historical museum.
Niedzica Castle rises now 30 m above the upper level of the Czorsztyn Lake, created in 1994 by damming the Dunajec River, and it’s known as one of the most picturesque castles in the country. Its outline can best be viewed from the ruins of Czorsztyn Castle, the rival pair castle located beyond the valley (now flooded) that hundreds of years constituted the border between Poland and Hungary.
The castle consists of a densely packed complex of buildings with a courtyard surrounded by residential wings with arcades, towers and fortified walls. The museum holds archaeological artifacts related to the castle, the historical documentation, ethnographic exhibits from the Spiš region, a collection of antique clocks, 18th and 19th century pistols, hunting rifles, and taxidermied game. In 1996, Ákos Engelmayer, former Hungarian ambassador to Poland, donated to the museum maps of Hungary from the 16th to the 20th centuries, and engravings depicting various Hungarian kings and castles, as well as cities and battlegrounds.
The place is also rich in tales with some of the former residents resembling characters from gothic novels. According to one of these legends, susţinută de the Polish newspapers after the WWII, Sebastián Berzeviczy (one of Niedzica's owners) traveled to the New World in the 18th century and fell in love with the alleged Inca princess. Their daughter, Umina, was married with Andrés Túpac Amaru, the nephew of the Inca insurrection leader Túpac Amaru II, whose assumed name implied descent from Inca kings. The two and Sebastián Berzeviczy fled to Italy, where Andrés was killed in suspicious circumstances. Afterwards Umina with son and her father fled to Hungary and settled at the castle. Some sources claim that Umina was assassinated there some time later. Her testament to son Anton, written in 1797 and stored there, seems to contains information about the lost treasure of Incas. There was really found a leaden case with some "quipu" writings, lost in Kraków in the following years. Some people believe even today that the Inca treasure map could be hidden somewhere in the depths of the castle. Always will be more lost treasures than found, and people willing to search them.
The stamp is part of a series of 4, Lighthouses, issued on May 29, 2006, all with the same value (2.40zł):
• Stilo lighthouse
• Krynica Morska lighthouse
• Gąski lighthouse – It’s on the postcard
• Niechorze lighthouse
sender: Sylwia Filipiak (direct swap)
sent from Ostrów Wielkopolski (Poland), on 09.01.2012
photo: Krzysztof Mazur