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 original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.
In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.
The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.
In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.
Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.
In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.