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 built from 1239 to control naval traffic on the Vistula Lagoon. With the assistance of Duke Otto I of Brunswick-Lüneburg, the Knights defeated the Old Prussians along the coastline of Warmia and Natangia. The subjugation of these pagans led Duke Świętopełk II of Pomerania to declare war against the Order during the 1242 Prussian uprising, although he was forced to acquiesce. From 1250 Balga was the administrative centre of Kommende Balga and the seat of a Komtur of the Teutonic Knights. Many Komturs at Balga like Winrich von Kniprode or Ulrich von Jungingen later rose to the office of the Grand Master.
In 1499 Grand Master Friedrich von Sachsen had the commandery dissolved. Upon the Prussian Homage, Balga was part of the Polish Duchy of Prussia in 1525 and the castle became the residence of George of Polentz, Bishop of Samland. From 1627, parts of the castle were broken down at the behest of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden during the Polish–Swedish War in order to gain building material for the construction of the Baltiysk (Pillau) fortress.
Balga was also the name of the nearby village, after 1945 renamed Vesyoloye, which is now abandoned. Until the end of World War II Balga was in the former German Province of East Prussia; it was the site of one of the final battles of the Wehrmacht with advancing Red Army forces during the East Prussian Offensive, which devastated the castle remains.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.