The first Teutonic stronghold was built in Reszel already in 1241 but the construction of a brick castle began only over a century later. It was due to endless rebellions of the Barts, a Prussian tribe, who had never accepted the conquest and continually attacked the Teutonic outpost. Since 1243 Reszel was officially granted to Warmian bishops but the Teutonic squad left the stronghold only in 1300.
Bishop John I of Meisen started the construction of the castle in 1350. It was continued (since 1355) by John II Stryprock, and finished by Henry III Sorbom in 1401. Henry of Sorbom was well-known for his passion for grandness and it was in his time that a south wing with apartments for bishops and cloisters were built. The castle and borough fortifications were joined together.
By the Treaty of Toruń in 1466 Warmia was incorporated into Poland. In ab. 1505 bishop Łukasz Watzenrode initiated the construction of new fortified walls around the castle. The fortifications, strengthened by bastions on the corners, were adjusted for use of firearms. At that time Nicolaus Copernicus, the bishop’s nephew and also his secretary and personal physician was a frequent visitor of the castle. In 1594-1597, at the time of cardinal Andrzej Batory’s rule, the castle, which had already lost its military significance, was converted into a bishops’ hunting residence.
After the first partition of Poland in 1772 the castle was taken over by Prussian authorities, who converted it into prison in 1795. In 1806 and 1807 the town and castle were afflicted by great fires. The first one destroyed wooden buildings of the town, the town hall and part of the castle. The other completely devastated the castle. In 1822 the castle was handed over to the evangelical commune. After the repair works the castle lost its medieval characte – the cloisters were pulled down and the south wing was converted into an evangelical church (hence its present gable).
In 1958 the castle was handed over to Social--and-Cultural Association “Pojezierze” (Lake District). The major overhaul in the years 1976-1985 allowed to adapt part of the castle to make it a place for art workshops and art gallery. Since 2001, after yet another restoration, the castle houses a hotel with a restaurant, an art gallery and a museum.References:
The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.
The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.
After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.
The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.
Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.
The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.