Raudondvaris Castle is a Gothic-Renaissance gentry residence, located in the eponymous town of Raudondvaris. First mentioned as a pagan keep by Teutonic chroniclers in 1392. When Samogitia was handed over to the Order, the Teutons built a small castle of Koenigsburg on the site, housing 80 knights and 400 soldiers. The castle was further strengthened and enlarged following the Battle of Grunwald. Since then it was the personal property of kings of Poland until 1549, when Sigismund II Augustus donated it (along with the surrounding town) to his wife, queen-consort Barbara Radziwiłł. Following her death the red brick-built manor (which gave its' name to the surrounding village of Czerwony Dwór, modern Raudondvaris) fell into disuse and was sold to Gintowt-Dziewałtowski family, who sold it back to the mighty Radziwiłł family soon afterwards.
Between 1653 and 1664 Prince Janusz Radziwiłł ordered its' reconstruction and refurbishment, which gave it its' current form. Following his demise, the manor passed from one noble family to another, first the Worłowski, then given to Zabiełło family and finally in 1820s it was purchased by Benedykt Tyszkiewicz. After the November Uprising in 1831, the castle was devastated by the Russian army, however, it was rebuilt soon afterwards. The 1832-1855 renovation gave it the Gothic Revival shape, though some traces of earlier Renaissance and Gothic elements are still visible (particularly the round tower that is thought to be part of the original Teutonic stronghold). Around that time the manor was surrounded with a large English-style garden, with a large orangery housing lemon trees. In 1835 a wooden chapel was replaced with a permanent church designed by an Italian expatriate Wawrzyniec Cezary Anichini (who later died in the Red Manor and was buried near the chapel he designed). Between 1856 and 1860 the estate was slightly extended, with many more buildings designed by a German architect by the name of Voler. Those included a new orangery, stables, ice house and offices.
Tyszkiewicz family held the property until World War I. The manor was known to house that family's extensive art collection including works by Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, Caravaggio and Jan Matejko. After the war the manor was confiscated byLithuanian authorities. The estate was divided onto individual plots, while the manor itself housed a school and then an orphanage.
The manor was badly damaged during World War II, but was rebuilt between 1962-1975. Currently it houses the Lithuanian Institute of Melioration (Lietuvos žemes úkio inžinierijos institutas), as well as a small museum devoted to both the Tyszkiewicz family and Lithuanian composer Juozas Naujalis born in the nearby village.References:
The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.
The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.
In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.
In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.
After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.
In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.
In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.