Ruins in Poland

Torun Castle Ruins

In spring 1231 Teutonic Knights crossed river Vistula at the height of Nessau and established a fortress. On 28 December 1233, the Teutonic Knights Hermann von Salza and Hermann Balk signed the foundation charters for Thorn and Che³mno. The original document was lost in 1244. The set of rights in general is known as Kulm law. In 1236, due to frequent flooding, it was relocated to the present site of the Old Town. Torun ...
Founded: 1231 | Location: Toruñ, Poland

Ogrodzieniec Castle Ruins

Ogrodzieniec Castle is a ruined medieval castle originally built in the 14th–15th century by the W³odkowie Sulimczycy family. Established in the early 12th century, during the reign of Boles³aw III Wrymouth, the first stronghold was razed by the Tatars in 1241. In the mid-14th century a new gothic castle was built here to accommodate the Sulimczycy family. Surrounded by three high rocks, the castle was well integr ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Podzamcze, Poland

Czersk Castle Ruins

The Castle of the Masovian Dukes in Czersk was built on the turning point of the fourteenth and fifteenth century by Prince Janusz I. When the Masovian land became part of the Kingdom of Poland - which was under the rule of Queen Bona Sforza. Primarily, the castle had three towers, one of them - being four-sided, was used as the main gate house. During the war with the Swedes, in 1656, the castle became partly ruined. Th ...
Founded: 1388-1410 | Location: Czersk, Poland

Checiny Castle Ruins

The Chêciny Royal Castle was built in the late 13th century. It is certain that the castle existed in 1306, when king W³adys³aw I gave it to the Archbishop of Kraków, Jan Muskata. A year later, under the pretext of detection of a plot against the royal power, the castle returned to the king. It played a significant role as a place of concentration of troops departing for war with the Teutonic Knights. After the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Chêciny, Poland

Olsztyn Castle Ruins

The ruins of the 14th-century Olsztyn castle are one of the biggest attractions of the area. The castle, located on a hill, among limestone rocks, is part of the Trail of the Eagles' Nests. It belonged to a system of fortifications, built by King Kazimierz Wielki, to protect western Lesser Poland from Czechs, to whom Silesia belonged at that time. For some time, as a fee, it belonged to Prince Wladyslaw Opolczyk. Taken aw ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Olsztyn, Poland

Ojców Castle Ruins

Ojców Castle was part of a system of castles known as the Eagle's Nests - formerly protecting the southern border of the Kingdom of Poland. Currently it houses a museum dedicated to the castle in its renovated castle-tower. The castle was used as a stronghold, built by Casimir III the Great in the second half of the 14th century. A legend mentions, that the caste was built by the Duke of Wrocław Wiesław I, Popiel's br ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Ojców, Poland

Tenczyn Castle Ruins

Tenczyn Castle was built as a seat of the powerful Tęczyński family. The castle fell into ruin during the Deluge in mid-17th century, after being pillaged and burned by Swedish-Brandenburgian forces looking for the Polish Crown Jewels and rumored treasures of the Tęczyński family. Subsequently rebuilt, after a fire in the mid-18th century it again fell into disrepair and remains in that state to this d ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Rudno, Poland

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

Mirów Castle Ruins

Mirów Castle was built in the 14th century. It changed owners multiple times, and was finally abandoned in 1787.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Mirów, Poland

Czorsztyn Castle Ruins

The ruins of Czorsztyn Castle stands at the top of the hill nearby Dunajec. According to Jan Długosz, in 1246 the owner of the castle was Piotr Wydżga. However that theory was never after confirmed by other historians, so the beginnings of castle functioning are dated on 14th century. Large development of the castle took place during the reign of Casimir III the Great. In years 1629–1643, when Jan Baranowski was a sta ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Czorsztyn, Poland

Smolen Castle Ruins

Smoleñ Castle was built in the Gothic style in the mid-14th century probably by Otto of Pilczy to the site of earlier wooden watchtower. It was enlarged after 1350 and again in the mid-15th century. The first document dates from 1394. The castle was destroyed by the Swedish army in 1655. It has been in ruins since them.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Smoleñ, 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

Kolo Castle Ruins

Casimir III the Great erected a castle in Ko³o – most likely prior to the founding of the city – as part of an overall enterprise of strengthening the boundaries of the realm. Ko³o castle was mainly intended to protect central Wielkopolska from attacks by the Teutonic Knights. The fortified city played a vital strategic role for some 200 years. It was established as a 55 m x 40 m rectangle, made of brick with stone ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Ko³o, Poland

Bakowiec Castle Ruins

Bąkowiec Castle in Morsko dates back to the 14th century. At the beginning of the 16th century it was owned by the family Włodków who probably built the stone castle. In the 17th century castle was abandoned. In 1929-1933 architect Witold Czeczott built a new residential house on the south side of the castle hill.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Morsko, Poland

Pieniny Castle Ruins

The ancient Pieniny castle was built on northern slope of a steep hill. The complex was small, due to lack of space, but placed in a spot which provided natural defence. The length of the defensive walls was 88 meters, and the walls were 1 meter thick, made from the local limestone rock. The gate was located in western part of the castle, below which cellars were built. According to Jan Długosz, during the disastrous ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Krościenko nad Dunajcem, 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

Lipowiec Castle Ruins

The origins of the castle in Lipowiec, which for centuries belonged to the bishopric of Krakow, go back to the 13th century. It was to act as protection and provide safety for the many buildings on the trade route from Cracow to Silesia. The bishop of Krakow Jan Prandota acquired the Lipowiec stronghold in the year of 1243. Another important bishop, who became the owner of the building was Jan Muskat. Until the end of the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Babice, Poland

Rabsztyn Castle Ruins

Originally built by King Kazimierz to protect the money-making mining centre of nearby Olkusz, Rabsztyn actually consists of two separate castles – the original 14th century upper castle and the much-larger lower castle added at its foot in the 17th century in the Renaissance style. The Swedes saw to it that neither was inhabitable shortly thereafter during their 17th century invasion. Today there is almost nothing ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Rabsztyn, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.