Castles and fortifications in Poland

Jawor Castle

Jawor Castle was originally a wooden stronghold until Duke Bolesław the Tall built a stone tower house. The castle has been a seat of both the Piast dynasty and the Duchy of Jawor-Świdnica. Several politically significant events took place in the castle during the Middle Ages. In 1648, the castle saw damage when it was besieged by soldiers loyal to the Holy Roman Empire, but it was renovated later during the same ...
Founded: 1663-1665 | Location: Jawor, Poland

Bierutów Castle

Bierutów Castle, (formerly Bernstadt) is believed to have been built in the 13th century under the orders of Henry III the White, Duke of Wrocław. It underwent renovation in the Renaissance style between 1534 and 1540, but was rebuilt after a fire in 1603 during the rule of Henry Wenceslaus, Duke of Oels-Bernstadt. Later that century, Christian Urlich Wirtemberg renovated the castle, adding another floor and a Baroqu ...
Founded: 1534-1540 | Location: Bierutów, Poland

Angerburg Castle

The current Węgorzewo town was first mentioned in a 1335 chronicle as Angirburg, or 'eel castle', a settlement of the Teutonic Knights with a block house, a palisade, and a watchtower. The Grand Duke of Lithuania, Kęstutis, destroyed the wooden castle in 1365. Teutonic Knights built new brick castle in 1398. It was situated 2 km away from burnt castle on river island. Near by the castle grew settlement ...
Founded: 1398 | Location: Węgorzewo, Poland

Dzialdowo Castle

Teutonic Knights conquered the Dzialdowo region and built a castle in the early 14th century. A wing of the castle still remains. The new settlement near the castle founded by Mikołaj z Karbowa and named Soldov was granted town privileges on 14 August 1344 by the Grand Master Ludolf König. The name Dzialdoff was first written on a 1409 map during the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Dzialdowo, Poland

Olsztynek Castle

Olsztynek Castle was built by Ostródan Gunter von Hohenstein, the commander of Teutonic Order, between 1349 and 1366. The brick Gothic castle was conquered by Wladyslaw II Jagiello in 1410. It was destroyed in 1656 by Tatars of Crimean Khanate and left to decay. The castle was reconstructed in 1847-1849 and moved as a school.
Founded: 1349-1366 | Location: Olsztynek, Poland

Miedzyrzecz Castle

Międyrzecz Castle was built around 1350 by Casimir III the Great in the place of a former gord from the second half of the ninth century, located on a small hill in between two floodplains of the Obra and Paklica Rivers. Due to the location of the stronghold, the castle was expanded and modernised, although that caste itself did not go through any major battles in the medieval times. In 1474, King Matthias Corvi ...
Founded: c. 1350 | Location: Międzyrzecz, Poland

Lebork Castle

Lębork Castle history begins from the first half of the 14th century. It was built and the town founded by Teutonic Knights. The stronghold was built on a square-like plan, with a residential building adjacent to a section from the stronghold’s southern part to the defensive wall, along the entire side of the square. The other two corners were fitted with quadrangular towers. One peculiarity of the Castle desig ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Lebork, Poland

Elk Castle

Teutonic Knights conquered the Ełk area in 1283. They built first a wooden castle to the site of former Old Prussian settlement and the town grew around it. It was first documented in 1398. The brick castle was built in 1497. In 1888 the castle was rebuilt - it became a prison and had that function until 1976. In 1958 during renovation of part of ther castle, under its walls, there was a collapsed tunnel found. After 198 ...
Founded: 1497/1888 | Location: Ełk, Poland

Mirów Castle

Mirów Castle was the residence of the House of Myszkowski. Designed and built in between 1585-1595 by Santi Gucci, by on order of the Bishop of Kraków Piotr Myszkowski. During the first quarter of the 18th century, the castle went into the hands of the Wielkopolski family, and was reconstructed in a Baroque style. Currently the castle is housing the Wincenty Witos Institution and an Agricultural School. The ...
Founded: 1585-1595 | Location: Książ Wielki, Poland

Barciany Castle

The first wooden castle in Barciany was built by Teutonic Knights in 1325. The construction of the stone castle to the site began in 1377. It was completed in the 15th century. In 1945 the castle was acquired by State Agricultural Farm and today it is privately owned. Barciany castle is a well-preserved sample of medieval architecture of Teutonic Order.
Founded: 1377 | Location: Barciany, Poland

Szczecinek Castle

As early as at the end of XIII century, there was a Slavic settlement on the island nearby the place of current Szczecinek Castle. The border nature of the settlement and its excellent defensive qualities contributed to the decision made around the year 1310 by Duke Warcislaw IV to build there a castle. This way the castle of Szczecinek became the seat of Starostes who in the name of the duke held the power here. First of ...
Founded: 1310 | Location: Szczecinek, Poland

Czluchow Castle

Człuchów Castle consists of some of the defence walls and the 46-metre tower. The Człuchów stronghold was built during the 14th Century by the Teutonic Order. The exact date of completion is unknown but it is assumed to be the year 1365. During the history, the castle was considered an unconquerable fortress, and was an important element in the defence system of the monastic State. The glory days o ...
Founded: c. 1365 | Location: Czluchow, Poland

Kozmin-Wielkopolski Castle

In mid-14th century, the owner of Koźmin, upon royal conferment, was Maćko Borkowic, Voivode of Poznań, famous for his wealth and robberies, whom King Casimir the Great ordered to be starved to death, on account of his numerous crimes. His brother Jan of the Nałęcz family took over the property after him; since mid-14th century, accounts mention a certain Bartosz Wezenborg, son of Peregryn, to who ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Koźmin Wielkopolski, Poland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.