Castles of the Teutonic Knights

Ludza Castle Ruins

The first mention of the Ludza Castle dates from 1433 when the Livonian Order built a large and strong fortress to replace an earlier wooden fortress built by the ancient Latgalians. The Ludza stone castle had three stories, six towers, three gates and two foreparts. It was built as an outpost for the Livonian order, mainly to strengthen the eastern border of Livonia and guard trade routes from Russia. In 1481 the Russia ...
Founded: 1433 | Location: Ludza, Latvia

Bytów Castle

The castle in Bytów was built by the Teutonic Knights in 1398-1405. The major construction works were supervised by Nicolaus Fellensteyn, a master builder of the Order. The construction of the castle fell to the period when Jacob von Reinach was the procurator of Bytów and Konrad von Jungingen was the Order"s Grand Master. The castle was located on a hill, towering above the town, which guaranteed excel ...
Founded: 1398-1405 | Location: Bytów, Poland

Ellingen Residence

Ellingen belonged to the Teutonic Order from 1216 onwards and was the Residence of the Territorial Commander of the Bailiwick of Franconia. This was the most powerful bailiwick in the Teutonic Order, and the small town of Ellingen thus represented the centre of a far-reaching territorial and economic power. At the time when today’s palace was built, however, the Teutonic Order had already become a charitable institutio ...
Founded: 1708-1720 | Location: Ellingen, Germany

Grudziadz Castle Ruins

The beginnings of the fortified stronghold on the territory of present-day Grudziadz go back to the 10th century. It was first mentioned in historical sources in 1065. In 1207 the stronghold was ruled by Konrad of Masovia who, in 1218, bestowed Chelmno Land and the stronghold to Bishop Christian. In 1231 the town was conquered by the Teutonic Knights. In 1299 construction of the castle was completed and a town was erected ...
Founded: 1231-1299 | Location: Grudziądz, Poland

Jaunpils Castle

Jaunpils Castle was erected in 1301 by the Master of the German branch of the Livonian Order, Gottfried von Roga. The tower was added in the 15th century. The castle was heavily damaged in war by Swedes in 1625. Later a third floor was added and the old fortress became a manor with all conveniences in the end of the 17th century. The building was partly reconstructed in 18th century. The castle was burned down during the ...
Founded: 1301 | Location: Jaunpils, Latvia

Põltsamaa Castle

The construction of Põltsamaa Castle was started in 1272. Between 1570 and 1578 it was the residence of Livonia's King Magnus. Repeatedly pillages, the castle was rebuilt by Woldemar Johann von Lauw in 1770 as a grand rococo-style palace. The castle, and the church built into its cannon tower, burnt down in 1941. Põltsamaa St. Nicholas' Church was built from 1632 to 1633 on the site of earlier build ...
Founded: 1272 | Location: Põltsamaa, Estonia

Horneck Castle

Horneck castle was built around 1200 and was given to the Teutonic Order by Konrad von Horneck in 1438, thereby making it the seat of the 'Deutschmeister' (German Master) until it was destroyed in 1525 by fire during the German Peasants' War. Despite reconstruction shortly after Horneck Castle's destruction, Mergentheim became the new headquarters for the Teutonic Order in that region in 1527. As of 2006, the castle was ...
Founded: 1200/1533 | Location: Gundelsheim, Germany

Lielstraupe Castle

Lielstraupe Castle was built at the end of the 13th century by Fabian von Rosen, vassal of the Riga Archbishop. The village of Straupe began to develop around the castle in the 14th century. A large tower was added around 1600. Severely damaged by fire in 1905, the castle was restored between 1906 and 1909 by architect Vilhelms Bokslafs. Since 1963 it has housed a drug addiction rehabilitation hospital.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Straupe, Latvia

Ragnit Castle Ruins

On 23rd April 1289 the Landmeister (provincial Master) of the Teutonic Order in Prussia, Meinhard von Querfurt, attacked the lands of the Skalvians. Afterwards he ordered to construct a Teutonic fortress which was to replace an old Prussian fort called "Ragaine". The new stronghold was named "Landehut", meaning "the land"s guarding fort" or "the land"s defence". At the tu ...
Founded: 1397-1409 | Location: Neman, Russia

Nowe Castle

Nowe is a small town beautifully situated on the high bank of the Vistula River. On the steep bank slope, at the turn of the 12th and 13th century stood a mighty fortress, which, along with castles in Stargard and Świecie used to monitor ship traffic on the Vistula. The importance of the castle in Nowe emphasized the fact that it was a residence of Castellan duke Świętopełek II. According to the chron ...
Founded: c. 1350 | Location: Nowe, Poland

Nidzica Castle

Nidzica castle construction was begun around 1370. The Pfleger of the Teutonic Knights made it his residence in 1409. On 12t July 1410, the undefended castle was captured by the Polish forces on their way into the interior of the State of the Teutonic Order. At the time of the Hunger War of 1414 the castle was put under siege by the Polish knights and taken after eight days on the 6th of July. In 1454 the castle was occup ...
Founded: 1370 | Location: Nidzica, Poland

Morag Castle Ruins

The first wooden Morag castle was built around 1280 by Teutonic Knights. It was rebuilt as a brick castle between 1331 and 1384. It was surrounded by a deep moat. In 1414 the castle moved temporarily to the possession of Poland army. The castle was abandoned later and the tower was demolished in 1616. Today ruins and a later Renaissance manor remain.
Founded: 1280 | Location: Morąg, Poland

Karksi Castle

The castle was probably built in the 13th century most likely in place of an ancient Estonian stronghold. The bailiwick of Karksi was first mentioned in 1248. The stronghold had a chapel dedicated to Apostle Peter. The first reference was made to a local clergyman in 1298. The present stone church, very simple in design, was built in the same place between 1773 and 1778. St. Peter’s Church is in the ruins of Karksi ...
Founded: 1298 | Location: Viljandimaa, Estonia

Ostróda Castle

The first earth and timber fort was raised in Ostróda (Osterode) by the Teutonic knights in the mid-13th century. It stood in the fork between the Drwęca river branches, replacing an earlier Prussian stronghold. Construction of a brick castle built on a stone foundation was started by the Ostróda Commander (Hauskomtur) around 1349. The old earth and timber fortress together with the unfinished brick cas ...
Founded: 1349-1370 | Location: Ostróda, Poland

Mouse Tower

Mouse Tower, a Gothic brick tower from the 14th century, is the most recognized monument in Kruszwica and the unofficial symbol of the town. It was built by the With the remains of walls, it is a part of defense castle remnants. The castle was founded by king Kazimierz the Great. In 1656, the castle was seized by the Swedish army which burnt it down as they were retreating. In the late years of 18th century, the castle r ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Kruszwica, Poland

Kandava Castle Ruins

Kandava settlement was first mentioned in 1230 in a peace treaty between the residents of Riga and the residents of the Abava valley in Courland. A military castle was built around 1257, but it was gradually dismantled over the years and now only its foundations can be seen in a town park. The oldest remaining structure is a guard tower built in 1334 and later used for gunpowder storage.
Founded: c. 1257 | Location: Kandava, Latvia

Ketrzyn Castle

The town of Kętrzyn (until 1946 Rastenburg) was founded by the Teutonic Knights at the Prussian settlement called Rast. Initially there was a wooden watchtower, around which developed a settlement. In 1357 the commander of Bałga Johann Schindekopf granted the settlement civic rights. Shortly thereafter, in the city began construction of the defensive church dedicated to St. George, castle and defense walls. Th ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Ketrzyn, Poland

Tukums Castle Tower

The castle tower is a fragment of the oldest building in Tukums. It is believed that the construction of the castle in Tukums was commenced in 1277 by the Livonian Order. The castle was surrounded by a 7.5 m tall and 1.6 m wide stone wall. The castle defence was ensured by an artificial, deep moat and its position on the high bank or the River Slocene. Only a small stone wall fragment has been preserved from the castle, b ...
Founded: 1277 | Location: Tukums, Latvia

Ryn Castle

At the end of the 14th century, Teutonic Knights built a castle in Ryn, serving as a base for fighting with the Lithuanians. Until 1525, the castle was the seat of the commander. After two years of the construction of the castle, then the Grand Master of the Order Winrich von Kniprode arrived in Ryn to inspect and take over the castle, and returned to the Malbork by waterway. In 1723 Ryn received city rights granted by th ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Ryn, Poland

Darlowo Castle

Although documents directly relating to the construction of the castle in Darłowo have not been found yet, the results of archaeological and architectural and historical premises allow us to date back the creation of the castle to the second half of the 14th century. It was during the reign of the prince of the House of Griffins, Boguslaw V and Elizabeth, the daughter of King Casimir the Great. The prince purchased the i ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Darłowo, 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.