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, in which Teutonic knights, clergymen and soldiers would stay. There, travelling merchants would spend time discussing the ups and downs of commerce over a pint of barley beer or a bottle of cider.
When the lands of Nadrovia and Sudovia had been occupied by the tribe of Yotvingians, the border between the Monastic State of the Teutonic Order and Lithuania moved eastwards. As a result, the fortress of Waldau ceased to serve a defensive role. In 1457 the old building was converted into a residential castle, which from then on served as a summer residence of the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order. When the Order was secularized in 1525, the castle turned into a seat for the administrative authorities in the district of Waldau. In 1858 an agricultural school was established in the castle. Afterwards the castle was completely redesigned and changed into a popular school for teachers.
The history of Waldau Castle contains one event which, on the initiative of local people, was commemorated in 1997 by placing a plaque on the walls of the castle. On 17th (27th) May 1697, the castle hosted Russian emissaries, headed by Admiral Franc Jakovlewitz Lefort (1656 - 1699). The Tsar's chronicler wrote on that day: 'Tsar Peter I arrived on this day to enquire about the well being of the emissaries and to finally confirm the meeting ceremony with Kurfürst (The Prince Elector of the German Reich). In the evening, Tsar Peter I left for Königsburg and the Russian emissaries set off from Waldau early morning the next day.'
Today the castle in Nizovye, despite its old age, makes a great impression on the visitors. Parts of the former castle outbuildings have remained until today and the castle itself still houses an agricultural school.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick.