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:
Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. The entirety of southern Öland has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Eketorp fortification is often referred to as Eketorp Castle.
The indigenous peoples of the Iron Age constructed the original fortification about 400 AD, a period known to have engendered contact between Öland natives with Romans and other Europeans. The ringfort in that era is thought to have been a gathering place for religious ceremonies and also a place of refuge for the local agricultural community when an outside enemy appeared. The circular design was believed to be chosen because the terrain is so level that attack from any side was equally likely. The original diameter of this circular stone fortification was about 57 metres. In the next century the stone was moved outward to construct a new circular structure of about 80 metres in diameter. At this juncture there were known to be about fifty individual cells or small structures within the fort as a whole. Some of these cells were in the center of the fortified ring, and some were actually built into the wall itself.
In the late 600s AD the ringfort was mysteriously abandoned, and it remained unused until the early 11th century. This 11th century work generally built upon the earlier fort, except that stone interior cells were replaced with timber structures, and a second outer defensive wall was erected.
Presently the fort is used as a tourist site for visitors to Öland to experience a medieval fortification for this region. A museum within the castle walls displays a few of the large number of artefacts retrieved by the National Heritage Board during the major decade long excavation ending in 1974. Inside the fort visitors are greeted by actors in medieval costumes who assume the roles of period artisans and merchants who might have lived there nine centuries earlier. There are also re-enactment scenes of skirmishes and other dramatic events of daily life from the Middle Ages.
Eketorp lies a few kilometers west of Route 136. There is an ample unpaved parking area situated approximately two kilometers west of the paved Öland perimeter highway. There is also a gift shop on site. During peak summer visitation, there are guided tours available. Visitors are assessed an admission charge.