Ruins in Russia

Vyborg Old Cathedral

Vyborg Old Cathedral is the oldest building in Vyborg, but today only some parts of its walls and the tower remain. The parish of Vyborg was established during the third crusade around the year 1293. There were several wooden churches the last one was destroyed by Novgorodians in 1411. The construction of stone-made cathedral was began in 1430s and in was completed around 1445. The medieval appearance is unknown, because ...
Founded: 1430-1445 | Location: Vyborg, Russia

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

Tiversk Fort

Tiversk or Tiversky gorodok (Finnish: Tiurinlinna) was a medieval Russian fortified settlement situated on an island of the River Vuoksi. The fort was 215–300 m long and 40–56 m wide. It gained in prominence in 1323 when the Treaty of Nöteborg established a Novgorodian-Swedish border in the immediate vicinity. It was then mentioned in the Nikon Chronicle in 1404, when the settlement was granted to Prince ...
Founded: ca. 1323 | Location: Leningrad Oblast, Russia

Gdov Kremlin

Gdov was established as an outpost of the Pskov Republic. It occupied a strategically important position, being close to Lake Peipus, separating Livonia and Rus. Located on an important road to Pskov, Gdov protected it from the north. Its first mention in the chronicles dates back to 1323. Initially, the fortress was a mixture of wooden and earthen fortifications. However, the level of protection was deemed insuffici ...
Founded: 1431-1434 | Location: Gdov, Russia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.