Castles of the Teutonic Knights

Maasi Fortress Ruins

Maasi medieval fort-castle was built with the forced labour of islanders. That's how the ruling Liivi order punished indigenous inhabitants for the uprising, which had destroyed orders previous stronghold. Seaside fort-castle was undefeated until destroyed by Danes. The fortress was blown up in 1576 by the Danes in an attempt to forestall the Swedish invasion and nothing was done for the next 300 years. 8m walls that ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Saaremaa, Estonia

Vecdole Castle Ruins

Vecdole Castle (Schloss Alt-Dahlen) was built in the early 13th century (before 1226 when it was first time mentioned). It was built as a vassal castle for the arcbishop of Riga and destroyed already in 1298. Today only ruins remain.
Founded: ca. 1226 | Location: Salaspils, Latvia

Tarvastu Castle Ruins

The place of the Tarvastu castle has been an ancient fortified stronghold. A medieval Order castle, surrounded by a moat, was built at the River Tarvastu, during the 14th century, and exploded in 1596. In the yard of the front stronghold, there is a light-coloured classicist chapel, founded in 1825, to be burial place of the v. Mensenkampff's family. The suspension bridge, which connected the hill of the front fort wi ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Viljandimaa, Estonia

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

Vilaka Castle Ruins

Viļaka Castle was built by Archbishopric of Riga in 1342 as a wooden castle. At first it was closed monastery. It was rebuilt as a stone castle between 1509-1516. During Livonian war time in 1582 it was destroyed and finally demolished in 1702. The outer walls are 1.6m thick, remaining fragments of the walls are up to 2 meters high.
Founded: 1342 | Location: Viļaka, Latvia

Virtsu Castle Ruins

The castle of Virtsu belonged to vassals of the feudal state Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek - Western part of nowadays Estonia as well as part of Saaremaa and part of Hiiumaa. It was built in 1430 by Uexküll noble family and destroyed already in 16th century. Now the ruined walls are few metres high, but it really looks that there is almost nothing. That's because grass and bush is growing on the ruins. Reference: ...
Founded: 1430 | Location: Hanila, Estonia

Labiau Castle Ruins

The earliest mention of Labiau dates back to 1258. At that time Labiau was most probably an old Baltic Prussian village or a small fortified settlement. The first timber fortress was built by the Teutonic Knights during the second Prussian surge, around the year 1274 (other sources suggest that the first stronghold was established in 1258). It stood at the mouth of the Laba River and protected this waterway. During the Pr ...
Founded: 1360 | Location: Polessk, Russia

Neuhausen Castle Ruins

The first reliable mention of Neuhausen dates back to 1292, when Bishop Christian von Mühlhausen ordered to raise a fortified castle in this location. Following the reformation of the Catholic Church in Prussia in 1525 the castle became a property of Albrecht Hohenzollern of Brandenburg. The Duke had the castle completely redesigned, converting it into a suburban hunters manor. In 1550, when the Duke had made a decis ...
Founded: 1292 | Location: Guryevsky, Russia

Kurzetnik Castle Ruins

Kurzętnik Castle was built by Teutonic Knights in the 14th century. The construction began around 1331 and was completed before 1361. The large castle was 110m long and 42m wide. The first floors were built of granite and upper were brick-made. There was a chapel church in the inner yard. The suffered damages in wars between Teutonic Order and Poland-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1410s and again in 1659 in Swedish army ...
Founded: 1330-1361 | Location: Kurzętnik, Poland

Dzierzgon Castle Ruins

The construction of the Teutonic Castle in Dzierzgoń began in 1248, as ordered by the national champion Heinrich von Wida. At its location there was chosen towering hill over the area, where previously was a fortified city of Prussia, to protect the settlement lying at its feet. The fort was the seat of the Commander of Dzierzgoń, who also held the function of the Quatermaster (Obersttrappier) in the Order of t ...
Founded: 1248 | Location: Dzierzgoń, Poland

Przezmark Castle Ruins

The construction of the Przezmark castle started at the beginning of the 1300s continued until c. 1350. In the next centuries the stronghold was repeatedly converted because it was adjusted to new functions: the seat of a commune head, a prosecuting attorney and a convent. Since the beginning of the 16th century the castle belonged to the bishops of Pomesania as to later come into hands of the families of von Egmon and vo ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Przezmark, Poland

Stary Dzierzgon Castle Ruins

Stary Dzierzgoń was one of the first Teutonic fortresses in the territory of Prussia.The castle was built in 1234 on the site of a Prussian stronghold. It was devastated in 1243 and abandoned in 1247 when the Teutonic Order moved its seat to the brand new castle in nearby Dzierzgoń. The outline of the moat and the embankments are the only remains of the fortress.
Founded: 1234 | Location: Stary Dzierzgon, Poland

Czluchow Castle

Człuchów Castle consists of some of the defence walls and the 46-metre tower. The Człuchów stronghold was built during the 14th Century by the Teutonic Order. The exact date of completion is unknown but it is assumed to be the year 1365. During the history, the castle was considered an unconquerable fortress, and was an important element in the defence system of the monastic State. The glory days o ...
Founded: c. 1365 | Location: Czluchow, Poland

Zamek Kiszewski Castle Ruins

The first Teutonic castle in Zamek Kiszewski was surrounded by the Wierzyca and marshy grasslands. In 1454 the castle was destroyed by the armies of Gdańsk, and again in 1655 when it was taken over by the Swedes. The surviving remnants of the 14th century castle complex are its defensive walls with Teutonic keeps and a gatehouse. At the foot of the castle there is also a Neoclassical manor house, which dates back to ...
Founded: 1350 | Location: Zamek Kiszewski, Poland

Sobowidz Castle Ruins

Sobowidz Castle was built in the second half of 14th century by the Teutonic Order. During the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War it was conquered by Polish, but later returned to Teutonic Order. The castle was mainly destroyed in 1454 when Teutonic Knights surrended. In the 16th century the castle was rebuilt to Governor palace, but it was again destroyed by Swedish army in the 17th century and demolished in 19th ...
Founded: c. 1340 | Location: Sobowidz, Poland

Kowalewo Pomorskie Castle Ruins

In 1231 the city of Kowalewo was captured by the Teutonic Knights. They soon built a castle, and in 1275 they granted city rights to this developing settlement. After the complete destruction of the city and the castle by the Tatars in 1286, relocation took place, most probably under the conditions of the Chełmno Law. The castle was rebuilt in 1278. Invasions of the Prussians, Tatars, and Lithuanians hastened the dec ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kowalewo Pomorskie, Poland

Nowy Jasiniec Castle Ruins

In the Middle Ages Nowy Jasiniec castle served as a border stronghold on the trade route from Polish to Pomesania. It was conquered and rebuilt by the Teutonic Order in the 14h century. During the wars between Teutonic Order and Poland it was destroyed and then rebuilt again in 1454. Between 1466-1772 Nowy Jasiniec was the seat of local lords. Between 1773-1846 the castle served as an evangelical church. Later it fell int ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Nowy Jasiniec, Poland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin and the only surviving royal residence in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. The original palace was commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Friedrich III, Elector of Brandenburg in what was then the village of Lietzow. Originally named Lietzenburg, the palace was designed by Johann Arnold Nering in baroque style. The inauguration of the palace was celebrated on 11 July 1699, Frederick's 42nd birthday.

Friedrich crowned himself as King Friedrich I in Prussia in 1701 (Friedrich II, known as Frederick the Great, would later achieve the title King of Prussia). Two years previously, he had appointed Johann Friedrich von Eosander (also known as Eosander von Göthe) as the royal architect and sent him to study architectural developments in Italy and France, particularly the Palace of Versailles. On his return in 1702, Eosander began to extend the palace, starting with two side wings to enclose a large courtyard, and the main palace was extended on both sides. Sophie Charlotte died in 1705 and Friedrich named the palace and its estate Charlottenburg in her memory. In the following years, the Orangery was built on the west of the palace and the central area was extended with a large domed tower and a larger vestibule. On top of the dome is a wind vane in the form of a gilded statue representing Fortune designed by Andreas Heidt. The Orangery was originally used to overwinter rare plants. During the summer months, when over 500 orange, citrus and sour orange trees decorated the baroque garden, the Orangery regularly was the gorgeous scene of courtly festivities.

Inside the palace, was a room described as 'the eighth wonder of the world', the Amber Room, a room with its walls surfaced in decorative amber. It was designed by Andreas Schlüter and its construction by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram started in 1701. Friedrich Wilhelm I gave the Amber Room to Tsar Peter the Great as a present in 1716.

When Friedrich I died in 1713, he was succeeded by his son, Friedrich Wilhelm I whose building plans were less ambitious, although he did ensure that the building was properly maintained. Building was resumed after his son Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) came to the throne in 1740. During that year, stables for his personal guard regiment were completed to the south of the Orangery wing and work was started on the east wing. The building of the new wing was supervised by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, the Superintendent of all the Royal Palaces, who largely followed Eosander's design. The decoration of the exterior was relatively simple but the interior furnishings were lavish. The ground floor was intended for Frederick's wife Elisabeth Christine, who, preferring Schönhausen Palace, was only an occasional visitor. The decoration of the upper floor, which included the White Hall, the Banqueting Hall, the Throne Room and the Golden Gallery, was lavish and was designed mainly by Johann August Nahl. In 1747, a second apartment for the king was prepared in the distant eastern part of the wing. During this time, Sanssouci was being built at Potsdam and once this was completed Frederick was only an occasional visitor to Charlottenburg.

In 1786, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II who transformed five rooms on the ground floor of the east wing into his summer quarters and part of the upper floor into Winter Chambers, although he did not live long enough to use them. His son, Friedrich Wilhelm III came to the throne in 1797 and reigned with his wife, Queen Luise for 43 years. They spent much of this time living in the east wing of Charlottenburg. Their eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who reigned from 1840 to 1861, lived in the upper storey of the central palace building. After Friedrich Wilhelm IV died, the only other royal resident of the palace was Friedrich III who reigned for 99 days in 1888.

The palace was badly damaged in 1943 during the Second World War. In 1951, the war-damaged Stadtschloss in East Berlin was demolished and, as the damage to Charlottenburg was at least as serious, it was feared that it would also be demolished. However, following the efforts of Margarete Kühn, the Director of the State Palaces and Gardens, it was rebuilt to its former condition, with gigantic modern ceiling paintings by Hann Trier.

The garden was designed in 1697 in baroque style by Simeon Godeau who had been influenced by André Le Nôtre, designer of the gardens at Versailles. Godeau's design consisted of geometric patterns, with avenues and moats, which separated the garden from its natural surroundings. Beyond the formal gardens was the Carp Pond. Towards the end of the 18th century, a less formal, more natural-looking garden design became fashionable. In 1787 the Royal Gardener Georg Steiner redesigned the garden in the English landscape style for Friedrich Wilhelm II, the work being directed by Peter Joseph Lenné. After the Second World War, the centre of the garden was restored to its previous baroque style.