Castles of the Teutonic Knights

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

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

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

Järve Castle

Järve vassal castle was first mentioned in 1497, when it was owned by Lodede. It was then called as Türpsali. The stone castle was dounded in 1508 and it was owned by Payküllide family until 1808. The castle was originally a three-storey and made of limestone. Today two lower storeys still exists, the other castle was ruined probably in the Livonian War or in the Great Northern War.
Founded: 1508 | Location: Järve, Estonia

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

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

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

Gizycko Castle Ruins

The city of Gizycko (Ger. Lötzen) was founded as a village surrounding the Teutonic Order"s castle, built around 1340. The castle was built during the reign of Grand Master Winrich von Kniprode, located in a strategic position - on the isthmus between Lakes Niegocin and Kisajno. It was a dwelling with a rectangular courtyard, surrounded by a wall, and functioned as a residence of the Teutonic Order"s prosec ...
Founded: c. 1340 | Location: Gizycko, 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 instit ...
Founded: 1708-1720 | Location: Ellingen, Germany

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

Bobrowniki Castle Ruins

Bobrowniki Castle was built by the Teutonic Knights. Following the Peace of Thorn (1411), it was taken over by the Polish, later to become a residence of the local mayor. Since the 18th century the castle has been laid in ruins. Bobrowniki castle was erected at the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries, after the purchase of Bobrowniki village by the Teutonic Knights in 1392, possibly as an extension of an earlier fortress ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Bobrowniki, Poland

Kalvi Manor

The estate was first mentioned in 1485, when there was a vassal fortress built by the von Lode family. Later on, the estate belonged to the Kalffs, von Essens and von Stackelbergs. The Early-Classical main building that had replaced the medieval fortress in the 1770s burnt down in 1911 (in ruins), after which a new luxurious eclectic main building was erected nearby and completed in 1913. Because of its corner towers a ...
Founded: 1913 | Location: Aseri, Estonia

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 des ...
Founded: 1350-1360 | Location: Szczytno, Poland

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

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

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

Angerja Castle Ruins

The vassal tower-stronghold of Angerja was probably built in the 14th century. The rectangular construction was made of limestone, the walls were two meters thick and it was surrounded by a moat. Some parts of the walls remain to this day and a moat is still visible. It is thought that the stronghold was destroyed during the Livonian war. Tower-strongholds were built by vassals to protect themselves, mostly against peasa ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Kohila, Estonia

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

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 2 ...
Founded: 1200/1533 | Location: Gundelsheim, Germany

Vasknarva Castle Ruins

The first Vasknarva order castle (Neuschloss) was founded in 1349 on the northeastern border of Old Livonia. 1427–1442 a new castle (Vastne-Narva) was built, which became the centre of the vogtei of the Livonian Order. The castle was wracked in the Livonian War. Until the Great Northern War it was a fort of great importance, commanding the mouth of the Narva River. It has been known in Russian chronicles either as S ...
Founded: 1349 | Location: Ida-Virumaa, Estonia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

São Jorge Castle

São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the Portuguese city of Lisbon and Tagus River. The strongly fortified citadel dates from medieval period of Portuguese history, and is one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon.

Although the first fortifications on this hilltop date from the 2nd century BC, archaeological excavations have identified a human presence in the Tagus valley as far back as the 6th century BC. The first fortification was, presumably, erected in 48 BC, when Lisbon was classified as a Roman municipality.

The hill was first used by indigenous Celtic tribes, then by Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians as a defensible outpost that was later expropriated by Roman, Suebic, Visigothic, and Moorish peoples. During the 10th century, the fortifications were rebuilt by Muslim Berber forces, these included the walls or Cerca Moura ("Moorish Encirclement").

Kingdom

In the context of the Christian Reconquista, the castle and the city of Lisbon were freed from Moorish rule in 1147 by Afonso Henriques and northern European knights in the Siege of Lisbon during the Second Crusade; this victory was the only notable success of that failed crusade. According to an oft-repeated legend, the knight Martim Moniz, noticing that one of the doors to the castle was open, prevented the Moors from closing it by throwing his own body into the breach, thus allowing Christian soldiers to enter at the cost of his own life. With the taking of the castle Christian forces were able to maintain the defense of Lisbon until the end of the 12th century.

When Lisbon became the capital of the kingdom in 1255, the castle served as the alcáçova, a fortified residence for Afonso III, in his role as governor. It was extensively renovated around 1300 by King Denis I, transforming the Moorish alcáçova into the Royal Palace of the Alcáçova. Between 1373 and 1375, King Ferdinand I ordered the building of the Cerca Nova or Cerca Fernandina, the walled compound that enclosed the entirety of the castle. The master builders João Fernandes and Vasco Brás were responsible for its construction. This wall, which partially replaced the old Moorish walls, was designed to encircle previously unprotected parts of the city. Completed in two years, it had 77 towers and a perimeter of 5,400 metres.

The castle and the city resisted the forces of Castile several times during the 14th century (notably in 1373 and in 1383–1384). It was during this period (the late 14th century) that the castle was dedicated to Saint George by King John I, who had married the English princess Philippa of Lancaster. Saint George, the warrior-saint, was normally represented slaying a dragon, and very was popular in both countries.

From this point onward many of the kingdom's records were housed in the Torre de Ulisses, also known as the Torre Albarrã, until the reign of Manuel I. The Portuguese National Archive is still referred to as the Torre do Tombo. Between 1448 and 1451, the master builder was paid several stipends for his work on the palace. These public works continued until 1452, with additional payments being made for labor and materials to convert the building from a fortified castle to a royal residence.

Around the early 16th century, following the construction of the Ribeira Palace beside the Tagus river, the Palace of Alcáçova began to lose its importance. An earthquake occurring in 1531 further damaged the old castle, contributing further to its decay and neglect. In 1569, King Sebastian ordered the rebuilding of the royal apartments in the castle, intending to use it as his official residence. As part of the rebuilding, in 1577 Filippo Terzi demolished one of the towers near the principal facade of the Church of Loreto. However, many of the works were never completed after the young king's apparent death during the Battle of Alcácer Quibir. The following Portuguese dynastic crisis opened the way for sixty years of Spanish rule and the castle was converted into military barracks and a prison. On 30 December 1642, Teodósio de Frias the Younger was appointed master builder to continue the works begun by his father, Luís de Frias, and his grandfather, Teodósio de Frias. This was part of a greater plan by the Spanish forces to recommission the fortification.

However, after Portugal regained its independence following the Portuguese Restoration War, the works were taken over by the Portuguese government. On 6 November 1648, Nicolau de Langres was called upon to take over the design, execution and construction of a new fortification that would surround the Castle of São Jorge and the city walls of Lisbon. In 1650 the military architect Mateus do Couto was named master builder of the project and reconstruction took on a new formality: although the military engineer João Gillot built new walls in 1652, construction again followed Couto's plans between 1657 and 1733. In 1673, the Soldiers' Hospital, dedicated to São João de Deus, was installed on the grounds beside the Rua do Recolhimento. At the end of the 17th century the Recolhimento do Castelo was constructed along the southeast angle of the courtyard, and in 1733, new projects were initiated by master Custódio Vieira.

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake severely damaged the castle and contributed to its continuing decay: apart from the walls of the old castle, the soldier's hospital and the Recolhimento were left in ruins. The necessity of maintaining a supporting military force within the capital city required expansion of the site's role of garrison and presidio. From 1780 to 1807, the charitable institution Casa Pia, dedicated to the education of poor children, was established in the citadel, while soldiers continued to be garrisoned on site. Inspired by the events of the earthquake and the following tsunami, the first geodetic observatory in Portugal was constructed in 1788 at the top of one of the towers of the castle, later referred to as the Torre do Observatório.

Republic

As part of the commemorative celebrations marking the foundation of nationhood and restoration of independence, the government of António de Oliveira Salazar initiated extensive renovations at the site. Most of the incongruous structures added to the castle compound in previous centuries were demolished and there was a partial restoration of the Recolhimento. In addition, on 25 October 1947, a monument dedicated to Afonso Henriques, presented by the city of Porto, of a replica created by Soares dos Reis (in 1887) was installed on the grounds.