Castles of the Teutonic Knights

Malbork Castle

The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork (Ordensburg Marienburg), completed in 1406, is the largest castle in the world by surface area, and the largest brick building in Europe. The castle is a classic example of a medieval fortress. UNESCO designated the 'Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork' and the Malbork Castle Museum as the World Heritage Site in 1997. The castle was built by the Teutonic Order after the con ...
Founded: 1274-1406 | Location: Malbork, Poland

Torun Castle Ruins

In spring 1231 Teutonic Knights crossed river Vistula at the height of Nessau and established a fortress. On 28 December 1233, the Teutonic Knights Hermann von Salza and Hermann Balk signed the foundation charters for Thorn and Che³mno. The original document was lost in 1244. The set of rights in general is known as Kulm law. In 1236, due to frequent flooding, it was relocated to the present site of the Old Town. Torun ...
Founded: 1231 | Location: Toruñ, Poland

Kuressaare Castle

Kuressaare Castle from the 14th century is a symbol of Kuressaare and all of Saaremaa island. The convent building at the castle is the only surviving medieval fortified building in the Baltic States without noteworthy architectural alterations. The construction of the stronghold was closely connected with the Estonians' fight against the German feudals. In 1227 the last Estonian county - Saaremaa surrendered to the Germ ...
Founded: 1260s | Location: Kuressaare, Estonia

Olsztyn Castle

Olsztyn castle is the oldest building in the town. It was built in the 14th century and originally consisted of two wings. The archaeological research proves that the fortress was built from scratch, on a raw piece of land, where no traces of any earlier settlement have ever been found. The castle belonged to the chapter of the Warmia diocese, which along with the bishop of Warmia was subjected to the military protection ...
Founded: 1346-1353 | Location: Olsztyn, Poland

Turaida Castle

Turaida Castle is a recently reconstructed medieval castle in Turaida. The castle was originally constructed in the Brick Gothic style in 1214 under Albert, archbishop of Riga, on the site of the destroyed wooden castle of the Livonian leader Caupo of Turaida. Construction and development of the fortifications continued to the 17th century, when the castle started to lose its strategic importance. It was badly damaged by ...
Founded: 1214 | Location: Sigulda, Latvia

Alden Biesen Castle

The knights of the Teutonic Order originally founded the Alden Biesen commandery in the 11th century, but the current buildings were constructed between the 16th and 18th centuries. It was the headquarters of a bailiwick or province of the Teutonic Order in the region of the Maas and Rhine. On 8 March 1971 the building burnt down and was acquired by the government and restored. In addition to the moated castle, the comple ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Rijkhoven, Belgium

Lidzbark Warminski Castle

Lidzbark Gothic Castle was built in 1350-1401 on a site previously occupied by a small Prussian fort called Lecbarg, which had been situated between two rivers: the Łyna and the Symsarna. For many years Lidzbark Castle was a residence of the bishops of Warmia and a stronghold protecting the eastern border of their domain. The basic structure of the castle consists of four wings enclosing the inner ward, surrounded b ...
Founded: 1350-1401 | Location: Gmina Lidzbark Warmiński, Poland

Kwidzyn Castle

Kwidzyn contains the partially ruined 14th century Brick Gothic Ordensburg castle of the Teutonic Order, namely the Bishops of Pomesania within the Order. Connected to the castle to the east is a large cathedral (built 1343-1384) containing the tombs of the bishops as well those of three Grand Masters of the Teutonic Knights. The former Prussian fortress in Kwidzyn, which was occupied by the Teutonic Knights in 1233, rec ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Kwidzyn, Poland

Gniew Castle

The Order of Brothers of the German House Saint Mary In Jerusalem took possession on the land of Gniew in 1283. Based on the law of Che³mno in 1297 the city stood next to the Teutonic castle built to the pattern of convent castles. The monumental silhouette along with the church of St. Nicholas is still constitute the characteristic dominant of the southern panorama of Gniew. The Gniew Castle was the most powerful claim ...
Founded: 1290 | Location: Gniew, Poland

Bad Mergentheim Castle

The castle of Mergentheim was the residence of the Grand Masters of German Teutonic Order from 1525-1809. In 1996 the museum was opened with around 3000 m² of exhibition space. The 800-year history of the German Teutonic Order from 1190 to the present day is illustrated with objects, works of art and models. The castle has a rich architectural history. There are Romanesque structural elements (residential quarter co ...
Founded: 1525 | Location: Bad Mergentheim, Germany

Krimulda Castle Ruins

The Krimulda Castle dates from the 14th century and was destroyed in a war in 1601. During the 13th century the left bank of the Gauja river was governed by the Order of the Brethren of the Sword, (later known as the Order of Livonia), while the territories on the right bank were under the domain of the Archbishop of Riga. Krimulda castle belonged to the Riga High Council which was a group of twelve high priests who advis ...
Founded: ca. 1255 | Location: Sigulda, Latvia

Toolse Castle

The castle of Toolse was built in 1471 by the Livonian Order as defence against pirates sailing in the Gulf of Finland. During the Livonian War it changed hands several times, was apparently destroyed and later rebuilt. In 1581 French mercenary Pontus de la Gardie captured the castle for Sweden from Russia which had held it since 1558. The castle was destroyed again during the Great Northern War, ever since which it has ...
Founded: 1471 | Location: Kunda, Estonia

Edole Castle

Ēdole Castle was built for the bishop of Piltene between 1264 and 1267. It was rebuilt in the 16th century and from 1561 until 1920 it was the property of the Baltic-German Baron von Behr and his descendents. During the 18th century the castle was expanded and from 1835 to 1841 it underwent a major reconstruction work to become one of the first samples of Neo-Gothic architecture in Kurzeme. The building was partly b ...
Founded: 1264-1267 | Location: Edole, Latvia

Reszel Castle

The first Teutonic stronghold was built in Reszel already in 1241 but the construction of a brick castle began only over a century later. It was due to endless rebellions of the Barts, a Prussian tribe, who had never accepted the conquest and continually attacked the Teutonic outpost. Since 1243 Reszel was officially granted to Warmian bishops but the Teutonic squad left the stronghold only in 1300. Bishop John I of Meis ...
Founded: 1350 | Location: Gmina Reszel, Poland

Dinkelsbühl Castle

The castle of the Teutonic Order in Dinkelsbühl was originally called 'Tewtscher Hof' (around 1350) and situated next to the almshouse. When the town was extended in 1390 it was rebuilt in its actual position. Newer building was built in Baroque style (1764). The valuable Rocaille cartouche on the gable and rococo chapel with intricate stucco are worth of seeing.
Founded: 1764 | Location: Dinkelsbühl, Germany

Klaipeda Castle Ruins

Klaipėda Castle, also known as Memelburg or Memel Castle, is an archeological site and museum housed in a castle built by the Teutonic Knights. The castle was first mentioned in written sources in 1252, and underwent numerous destructions and reconstructions in the centuries that followed. The Christian Teutonic Order had been waging an ongoing war against the Prussians during the 13th century; in order to entrench ...
Founded: 1253 | Location: Klaipėda, Lithuania

Raudondvaris Castle

Raudondvaris Castle is a Gothic-Renaissance gentry residence, located in the eponymous town of Raudondvaris. First mentioned as a pagan keep by Teutonic chroniclers in 1392. When Samogitia was handed over to the Order, the Teutons built a small castle of Koenigsburg on the site, housing 80 knights and 400 soldiers. The castle was further strengthened and enlarged following the Battle of Grunwald. Since then it was the per ...
Founded: 1653-1664 | Location: Raudondvaris, Lithuania

Golub-Dobrzyn Castle

Golub-Dobrzyñ Castle was built by Teutonic Knights at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, later rebuilt and extended in the 15th century. Between 1616 and 1623 it was a residence of Anna of Finland; during this period a Renaissance attic was added. The castle was destroyed during the The Deluge. In the 19th century, it was neglected and a gale caused the collapse of its attic. After 1945 the castle was rebuilt and r ...
Founded: c.1300 | Location: Golub-Dobrzyñ, Poland

Helme Castle

Helme church parish was first mentioned in 1329 during a Lithuanian raid. Most of the neighbouring land was fiefed in the 15th–16th centuries. Livonian Order castle in Helme (Ordensburg Helmet) was probably built in the first half of the 14th century. The site on a steep hill is belived to have been used as a stronghold earlier by Sackalians in the Ancient Estonia. By its ground plan the order castle was 120× ...
Founded: ca. 1330 | Location: Valgamaa, Estonia

Radzyn Chelminski Castle

Radzyn Chelminski was the seat of the Teutonic Knights" Commandry. The castle is one of the oldest castles built by the Teutonic Knights, built in the 13th century. In 1446 the castle went into Polish control, in 1628 during wars with the Swedes the castle was partially devastated, slowly turning into a ruin. Currently you are still able to see the tower - damaged by artillery fire. In 1780 Prussian authorities order ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Radzyn Chelminski, Poland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.