Lidzbark Gothic Castle was built in 1350-1401 on a site previously occupied by a small Prussian fort called Lecbarg, which had been situated between two rivers: the Łyna and the Symsarna. For many years Lidzbark Castle was a residence of the bishops of Warmia and a stronghold protecting the eastern border of their domain.
The basic structure of the castle consists of four wings enclosing the inner ward, surrounded by two-storey, arcaded wall walks, which are an only example in Poland of Gothic castle walks preserved in an ideal condition until our days. Two settlements outside the castle walls were built around the same time as the castle. The southern one contained a stable for horses, granaries and a coach house. In the northern one (industrial in character) there was a mill, a sawmill, a grinding workshop, a copper forge, a fulling mill and a tannery. The castle and the two settlements were surrounded by a ring of fortified walls, separate from the town, and moats supplied with water from the Symsarna river, which lies higher than the Łyna.
By the power of the Second Peace Treaty of Torun signed in 1466, Warmia was incorporated into Poland. Since then until 1795 Lidzbark Castle was a residence of many outstanding subjects of the Polish kings, who represented the best of the Polish culture. They created an important cultural centre in Lidzbark, which opposed, politically and congregationally, to the Lutheran ducal court in Königsberg.
One of the bishops of Warmia was Lucas Watzenrode, a maternal uncle of Nicolas Copernicus. Owing to his uncle's influence, Copernicus bound his mature life as well as his scientific and public activity with Warmia and Lidzbark Castle. The astronomer lived at the castle in Lidzbark for eight years: first after completing his studies in Cracow, at the turn of the years 1495-1496, and then, having returned from Italian universities from 1503 to 1510. At that time, the bishop's court shaped Copernicus' attitude against the Teutonic Order. More importantly, finding peace and quiet under the castle's roof, Copernicus was able to form the principles of his heliocentric theory, which he put in writing in the so-called Commentary. Later, he developed and completed the theory in his memorable work On the Revolutions of Celestial Spheres. While in Lidzbark, Copernicus also translated, from Greek to Latin, Letters of Theophylaktos Simokattes, which were then printed in Cracow in 1509. Since the end of the 16th century Lidzbark Castle was slowly losing its defensive character and eventually turned into a splendid ducal court, richly furnished with exquisite pieces of furniture, libraries and arts objects. The castle rooms were adapted to serve the new function - many were divided into smaller chambers and lavishly decorated with paintings.
In 1589-1599 the Bishop Anrzej Batory commissioned to build a palace adjacent to the north wing of the Gothic castle, known as the Cardinal's rooms - the palace was demolished in 1767). Another extension of the castle was undertaken by the Bishop Jan Stefan Wydżga, who added a Barque palace next to the south wing, built in 1666-1673 according to a design by the Italian architect Issidore Affaiti. The last eight Polish bishops of Warmia lived in this palace. The end to the splendour of Lidzbak Castle was brought by the incorporation of Warmia into Prussia in 1772. The last bishop of Warmia who resided at Lidzbark castle was Igancy Krasicki, a poet and a novelist, a comedy writer, an encyclopaedist and a journalist. After he left Lidzbark in 1794, the deserted castle began to slowly collapse.
The first complex restoration works were undertaken in 1927. At present the castle houses the Museum of Warmia, a branch of the Museum of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn. The castle chambers provide an excellent architectural and visual background for permanent and temporary exhibitions, such as Medieval art in Warmia and Teutonic Prussia, Outstanding residents at Lidzbark Castle, Russian icons of the 17th - 20th century, Castle military collection.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.