Dundaga Castle is a medieval castle by the Archbishopric of Riga, who gained control over the lands of Dundaga in 1237. Dundaga Castle was constructed next to a Curonian settlement (Dundagas Kalnadarzs hillfort). The exact time of construction is not known, though it is first mentioned in written sources in 1318. It is assumed that the castle was constructed in the late 13th century, and several times captured by Livonian Order.
In 1434 the castle was sold to the Bishopric of Courland, and sold again in 1559 - to the King of Denmark who in turn granted it to his brother Magnus, Duke of Holstein - future Curonian Bishop.
In the middle of the 17th century it was transformed from a medieval fortress to a representative residence of a country nobleman by Anna Sybil (born Osten-Sacken). The third floor was added in 1785. The family of Osten-Sacken were owners of the castle up to 1920.
Dundaga Castle suffered heavily in a fire in 1872 and its historical interiors were destroyed. It burned again in 1905, and was renovated beginning in 1909 after the design of H. Pfeiffer. As a result the castle was modernised and transformed. Since 1926 the castle has been used as a public building - as a local municipal administration, school, and cultural institution. The castle is the source of numerous legends, tales and ghost stories which, in many cases, are close to real historical events.
The castle is surrounded by water on three sides. The fourth side was defended by a moat in medieval times, today it is on level ground. The castle covers 48 x 69 meters, rectangular, surrounded with high defensive walls. In the inner yard a well has been preserved. The castle has been transformed in numerous renovations and does not have a specific architectural style.
Interesting monuments of art are bas reliefs at both sides of the main entrance in the inner yard - made by A. Voltz in 1909. One represents a warrior monk, the other - a bishop.References:
From its origin as a small stronghold built by the ancient Illyrian tribe Dalmatae, becoming a royal castle that was the seat of many Croatian kings, to its final development as a large fortress during the Ottoman wars in Europe, Klis Fortress has guarded the frontier, being lost and re-conquered several times. Due to its location on a pass that separates the mountains Mosor and Kozjak, the fortress served as a major source of defense in Dalmatia, especially against the Ottoman advance, and has been a key crossroad between the Mediterranean belt and the Balkan rear.
Since Duke Mislav of the Duchy of Croatia made Klis Fortress the seat of his throne in the middle of the 9th century, the fortress served as the seat of many Croatia"s rulers. The reign of his successor, Duke Trpimir I, the founder of the Croatian royal House of Trpimirović, is significant for spreading Christianity in the Duchy of Croatia. He largely expanded the Klis Fortress, and in Rižinice, in the valley under the fortress, he built a church and the first Benedictine monastery in Croatia. During the reign of the first Croatian king, Tomislav, Klis and Biograd na Moru were his chief residences.
In March 1242 at Klis Fortress, Tatars who were a constituent segment of the Mongol army under the leadership of Kadan suffered a major defeat while in pursuit of the Hungarian army led by King Béla IV. After their defeat by Croatian forces, the Mongols retreated, and Béla IV rewarded many Croatian towns and nobles with 'substantial riches'. During the Late Middle Ages, the fortress was governed by Croatian nobility, amongst whom Paul I Šubić of Bribir was the most significant. During his reign, the House of Šubić controlled most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia. Excluding the brief possession by the forces of Bosnian King, Tvrtko I, the fortress remained in Hungaro-Croatian hands for the next several hundred years, until the 16th century.
Klis Fortress is probably best known for its defense against the Ottoman invasion of Europe in the early 16th century. Croatian captain Petar Kružić led the defense of the fortress against a Turkish invasion and siege that lasted for more than two and a half decades. During this defense, as Kružić and his soldiers fought without allies against the Turks, the military faction of Uskoks was formed, which later became famous as an elite Croatian militant sect. Ultimately, the defenders were defeated and the fortress was occupied by the Ottomans in 1537. After more than a century under Ottoman rule, in 1669, Klis Fortress was besieged and seized by the Republic of Venice, thus moving the border between Christian and Muslim Europe further east and helping to contribute to the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The Venetians restored and enlarged the fortress, but it was taken by the Austrians after Napoleon extinguished the republic itself in 1797. Today, Klis Fortress contains a museum where visitors to this historic military structure can see an array of arms, armor, and traditional uniforms.