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, moats and shelters. Inside the ring of fortifications, stone and brick buildings for a convent of Teutonic brothers were constructed.
Initially the Knights planned that Gerdauen would become a seat of a commander, known as komtur. But this idea was soon relinquished because of the proximity to the Lithuanian lands and frequent attacks staged by Lithuanian troops. Gerdauen for example was attacked in 1336, 1337 and in 1366.
Although in 1406 Gerdauen Castle was surrounded by a ring of fortified walls less than half a century later, in 1455, which was during the Thirteen Years' War, the fortress was severely damaged. In 1670 it stood empty. Soon afterwards it was sold to a private owner. All that had remained of the original buildings were the cellars.
In 1872 a new beautiful palace was raised on this location. Gerdauen flourished until 1814, that is until the outbreak of World War One. In that year, the town was a witness and a victim of a bloody fight with the Russian army. Gerdauen was not rebuilt until 1921.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.