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 decision to raise a brick fortress, the so-called Kapitelburg.
This did not deter the Lithuanians from attacking the settlement and destroying the fort again, in 1390. In the same year, works on constructing a new and more powerful castle began. They were completed in just five years.
The construction of the castle was accompanied by the colonization of the lands along the upper course of the Pregel River. Colonists from German countries were brought to this area, where they mingled and assimilated with the local Prussian folk. At the foot of the castle a small town rose, with two competing inns.
When the Teutonic State was dissolved in 1525, Saalau was turned into a centre for local administration. In the 16th century the castle was ravaged by a fire, after which it was demolished.
Now the only remaining traces of the castle are some impressive ruins. The 18th century church, located on the other side of the road leading to the town, has had more luck. In the Soviet times, it was used as a club and a cinema and this has saved it from being pulled down.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.