Castles of the Teutonic Knights

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

Salacgriva Castle Ruins

Salacgrīva was a medieval castle built in 1226 by the bishopric of Riga. The three-tower castle served as an outpost to control access to the port of Salaca. It was captured in 1391, burned in 1564 and again drastically damaged in 1575 by Russian and Tartar warriors who fought side by side with the troops of Duke Magnus of Holstein. In 1581, Salacgrīva castle was attacked by the Swedish troops of Commander Thom ...
Founded: 1226 | Location: Salacgrīva, Latvia

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

Amouda Castle Ruins

The castle of Amouda is a Crusader castle, formerly in the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, and today in the Turkish Province of Osmaniye. The castle was deeded by the Armenian king Levon I to the Teutonic Knights in 1212 and rebuilt by them in the 13th century. It earned revenue for the Teutonic Order from the surrounding land. According to contemporary sources, the castle provided shelter for 2,200 people during the invasio ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gökçedam Köyü, Turkey

Alsunga Castle

The first stone castle in Alsunga was built in 1372, starting with the central part of the southern wing. The authorised representative of the Livonian Order, who was subject to a higher-ranking official in Kuldīga, lived here. The guard towers and other parts of the castle were gradually added between the 15th and the 18th century. The Baroque castle with its two towers is quite impressive. Institutions in the build ...
Founded: 1372 | Location: Alsunga, Latvia

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

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

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

Tapiau Castle Ruins

During the 13th century Prussian Crusade, the current Gvardeysk area was conquered by the Teutonic Knights. To protect Samland from the Nadrovians and Scalovians, the crusaders built a wooden fort between the Deime and Pregel rivers from 1283–90. This was replaced by Tapiau Castle, a stone Ordensburg, in 1351. Vytautas, forthcoming grand duke of Lithuania was baptised here in 1383 after he breached of Krėvė ...
Founded: 1283–90 | Location: Gvardeysky, Russia

Balga Castle Ruins

Balga was a medieval castle of the Teutonic Knights. The hill of Balga had been the site of an Old Prussian (Warmian) fortress called Honeda, that had been unsuccessfully besieged by the Wettin margrave Henry III of Meissen on his 1237 Prussian Crusade. It was conquered in 1239 by the forces of the Teutonic Order, led by Grand Marshal Dietrich von Bernheim. The oldest Ordensburg constructed by the Teutonic Order was buil ...
Founded: 1239 | Location: Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia

Otepää Castle Ruins

Otepää castle hill is the site of an ancient stronghold. It is speculated that a fortified settlement may have existed there even before Christ. The first major extension works were initiated in the 11th and 12th century when the castle was at the crossroads of important trading routes. Herman I, the bishop of Tartu, established there the first stronghold of its diocese. A settlement, which was mainly populated ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Otepää, Estonia

Brandenburg Castle Ruins

The Battle of Pokarwis between pagan Prussians and the Teutonic Knights took place nearby in 1261. The Teutonic Knights founded the village as Brandenburg to honor Otto III, Margrave of Brandenburg who supported the order in the Prussian Crusade, and erected a castle in 1266. Today impressive ruins remains.
Founded: 1266 | Location: Ushakovo, Russia

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

Gerdauen Castle Ruins

The earth and timber stronghold Gerdauen was constructed by the Teutonic Knights in 1270. After a subsequent Prussian uprising, the Knights were too weak to keep hold of all their fortresses. Gerdauen was burnt down, but once the Prussian uprising was put down, the Teutonic Knights returned here and began to raise new fortifications. By 1310, a new stronghold had been completed. At that time it was guarded by embankments, ...
Founded: 1270 | Location: Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia

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

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

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

Waldau Castle Ruins

The earliest official mention of building a fortress in Waldau comes from a chronicle dating to 1258. The name of the castle derives from the Baltic Prussian language, where it meant "to own". And in fact, the surrounding lands belonged to two Prussian landowners: Brulant and Diabel, who were called "tenants" or "dukes". In 1264, the dukes were obliged by the Teutonic Knights to set up an inn ...
Founded: 1258 | Location: Nizov'e, Russia

Preußisch Eylau Castle

In 1325, the Teutonic Knights built a castle called 'Yladia' or 'Ilaw', later known as 'Preussisch Eylau', in the center of the Old Prussian region Natangia. Ylow is the Old Prussian term for mud or swamp. The settlement nearby developed slowly, but in 1348 the Teutonic Order gave the privilege to establish twelve pubs at the surrounding area of the castle. Even though the village had only a ...
Founded: 1325 | Location: Bagrationovsky, Russia

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.