Castles of the Teutonic Knights

Papowo Biskupie Castle Ruins

Papowo Biskupie Castle was completed in the 14th century. It changed hands several times in Wars between Poland and Teutonic Knights in the 15th century. The Polish army conquered and burned the castle down in 1458. Later it was owned by the bishops of Chelmno. Today only ruins remain.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Papowo Biskupie, Poland

Stork Tower

The Stork Tower with fragments of the city walls has survived from the medieval fortification of Dobre Miasto. It was built in the 14th century. The tower owes its name to storks which have nested on its top. At present the tower is the residence of one of the sections of the Cultural Society. In the summer season tourists can visit a miniature museum created by the members of the society.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Dobre Miasto, Poland

Lielvarde Castle

Lielvārde Castle was built by Riga Archbishop at the steep bank of Daugava River, overseeing this important medieval waterway. It was first mentioned in 1248 and destroyed by Russian troops in 1579. Conserved ruins up to the level of second floor.
Founded: ca. 1248 | Location: Lielvārde, Latvia

Sztum Castle

Sztum Castle was built between 1326-1331. It functioned as a bridge-head protection the Malbork fortress from the South. At that time a stone and brick wall with a gate and one or possibly two corner towers surrounded the territory of the castle hill. The extension of the castle complex carried out in the 14th century was commenced starting from the southern and eastern wings. The wing that functioned as a summer residen ...
Founded: 1326-1331 | Location: Sztum, Poland

Bezlawki Castle Church

Bauselawke castle was first mentioned in 1371. The brick castle was surrounded by a stone wall. The church was mentioned first time in 1402 and 1513 it was merged with the castle. Since the Reformation in 1525 it was used as a Lutheran church until 1970s.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Bezławki, Poland

Grobina Castle Ruins

The Livonian Order erected Grobiņa Castle in 1253 to protect the roads from Livonia to Prussia. It was a square type building and was a three storey high living block in the southern aisle. It also had a gate tower in the middle of the western wall. The castle was built of bricks and crude stone. Once it had arched ceilings. It was a residence for the local viceroy of the Livonian Order from 1399 to 1590. As support ...
Founded: 1253 | Location: Grobiņa, Latvia

Aizpute Castle Ruins

Aizpute castle was built in the 13th and 14th centuries by the Livonian Order. This was regular planned castella type Order’s Castle with corner tower and wooden buildings in the yard. In the 15th century outside at the ring-wall was built the eastern block. After the Livonian War (1558-1583) castle was not suitable for habitation and in written documents from 1555 it is mentioned as a grain storehouse. At the time ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Aizpute, Latvia

Bierzglowski Castle

Bierzgłowski Castle was one of the oldest stuctures built by Teutonic Knights. The Gothic style castle was built between 1270-1305 to the site of previous castle (from the 1260s), which was destroyed by Lithuanians in 1263. Bierzgłowski castle has been rebuilt several times between 15th and 19th centuries. The castle has an unique ceramic relief in a one of portals. It depicts a horseman and two knights and is o ...
Founded: 1270-1305 | Location: Bierzgłowski, Poland

Pisz Castle Ruins

The Teutonic castle risen above the river in Pisz was named in turn Johannisburg. The first privilege regarding a settlement around the castle was granted in the year 1367. Pisz gained its civic rights in 1645 and officially received the name of the castle. The local people of Mazury called the castle 'Jańsbork' (Johannisburg), and this name remained until 1946. Today only fragments remain of this castle.
Founded: c. 1367 | Location: Pisz, Poland

Szczytno Castle Ruins

Between 1350 and 1360 Ortolf von Trier, a knight of the Teutonic Order and the Komtur of Elbląg, founded a fort in Galindia, probably near an Old Prussian settlement. The first mentioning of the fort was a document from 24 September 1360, after Ortolf invited Masoviancolonists, among whom the settlement became known as Szczytno. The first custodian of the settlement was Heinrich Murer. In 1370 the wooden fort was destroy ...
Founded: 1350-1360 | Location: Szczytno, Poland

Saalau Castle Ruins

The Knights of the Teutonic Order appeared on this land in 1257. In 1352, when the Prussian lands were divided between the Church and the Monastic Order, Saalau and the surrounding lands were ceded to the Church. In 1355, the Church had already built here a Chapter House, known as the Cathedral Chancery. The building however was burnt down several times during Lithuanian raids. So in 1376 the Church authorities made a dec ...
Founded: 1376 | Location: Chernyakhovsk, Russia

Pieniezno Castle Ruins

During the Middle Ages, an Old Prussian fort called Malcekuke was located near the current site of Pieniężno. The Teutonic Knights built an Ordensburg castle near Malcekuke in 1302. Both the castle and the town which developed nearby were destroyed during the war between the Teutonic Order and the Kingdom of Poland in 1414. During the Thirteen Years" War, Mehlsack surrendered to the Order, and the castle bu ...
Founded: 1302 | Location: Pieniężno, Poland

Schaaken Castle Ruins

Schaaken Castle, built by Teutonic Order, was first mentioned in 1328. Today impressive ruins remain of this brick castle.
Founded: 1328 | Location: Niekrasowo, Russia

Brodnica Castle Ruins

Teutonic Castle Ruins from the 14th century with the high tower (56 m high) has been survived to the nowadays in Brodnica. The castle was the headquarters of the commander of Brodnica and was one of the most powerful Teutonic castles. During the 13-year war was occupied by the Polish army in 1454 and 1463. From 1479 to the partition of Poland in 1772 the castle was the seat of Polish mayors (1485-1604 Działyński ...
Founded: 1305-1330 | Location: Brodnica, Poland

Golczewo Castle Ruins

Golczewo castle was one of the biggest and best-built castles in Pomerania. There was even a legend saying that it was connected to the Kamień Cathedral through an underground tunnel. The first records mentioning castrum Gülzow date back to 1304. At that time, Bishop of Kamień Pomorski, Heinrich Wacholz, bought from Wulvekin Smeling and Echard Wedel­stedt the castle in Golczewo for 1200 marks, paying th ...
Founded: 1304 | Location: Golczewo, Poland

Ergeme Castle Ruins

Ērģeme castle served as a powerful fortress for the protection of the Livonian Holy Order eastern border and as a castle-front for the Cēsis castle of the Livonian Holy Order master. The castle was mentioned in 1422 but it was built already around year 1320 under the ordinance of the Order master Gerhard von Jocke. Masters used castle as a storehouse, point of support and shelter for the night. Planning of ...
Founded: c. 1320 | Location: Ērģeme, Latvia

Gaujiena Castle Ruins

Gaujiena Castle was built between 1236 and 1238. Severely damaged in 1702 during the Great Northern War, the structure was abandoned. Ruins can be viewed in the park near the 18th century manor centre.
Founded: 1236-1238 | Location: Gaujiena, Latvia

Insterburg Castle Ruins

In 1311, Teutonic mercenaries called Landsknechts set up a camp on the high banks of the Angrapa River, close to where it flows into the Inster River. Later, in 1337, the Teutonic Knights built a brick castle in the same location. Most of the construction works had been completed by 1347. The fortress was named Insterburg Castle. For many centuries to follow, Insterburg Castle was a bastion located in the easternmost par ...
Founded: 1337 | Location: Chernyakhovsky, Russia

Aluksne Castle Ruins

Alūksne Castle was built in 1342 by Teutonic Knights on the largest of the islands in the Lake Alūksne and called Marienburg (after Mary, the mother of Jesus). The first castle was constructed by the Landmeister Burkhard von Dreileben. It was part of a major reinforcement of the Eastern border of Livonia, the same year another major castle nearby (in Vastseliina) was founded as well. The initial castle was buil ...
Founded: 1342 | Location: Alūksne, Latvia

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

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.