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:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



User Reviews

Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Limburg Cathedral

The Cathedral of Limburg is one of the best preserved late Romanesque style buildings. It is unknown When the first church was built above the Lahn river. Archaeological discoveries have revealed traces of a 9th-century church building in the area of the current chapel. It was probably built in Merovingian times as a castle and the chapel added in the early 9th century.

In 910 AD, Count Konrad Kurzbold (cousin of the future King Konrad I) founded a collegiate chapter of 18 canons, who lived according to the rule of Bishop Chrodegang of Metz, on the hilltop site. The original castle chapel was torn down and a three-aisled basilica was built in its place. The foundations of this basilica have been found beneath the present floor.

The construction of current cathedral is dated to 1180-90. The consecration was performed in 1235 by the archbishop of Trier. It seems certain that the cathedral was built in four stages. The first stage encompassed the west facade, the south side aisle, the choir and the transept up to the matroneum. This section forms the Conradine church. The second stage consisted of the addition of the inner pillars of the south nave. In this stage the bound system was first introduced. In the third phase, the matroneum in the southern nave was built. The fourth stage included the north side of the transept and the choir matroneum. By this stage Gothic influence is very clear.

The interior was destroyed by Swedish soldiers during the Thirty Years War (1618-48) and reconstructed in a late Baroque style in 1749. The Baroque renovation was heavy-handed: the surviving medieval stained glass windows were replaced; all the murals were covered up; the ribs of the vaults and columns of the arcades were painted blue and red; the capstones were gilded; the original high altar was replaced. The colorfully painted exterior was coated in plain white and the central tower was extended by 6.5 meters.

The collegiate chapter of Limburg was dissolved in 1803 during the Napoleonic period, but then raised to the rank of cathedral in 1827 when the bishopric of Limburg was founded. Some renovations in contemporary style followed: the walls were coated white, the windows were redone in blue and orange (the heraldic colors of the Duke of Nassau) and towers were added to the south transept (1865).

Further changes came after Limburg was incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia in 1866. It was now the Romantic period and the cathedral was accordingly restored to an idealized vision of its original Romanesque appearance. The exterior stonework was stripped of all its plaster and paint, to better conform with the Romantic ideal of a medieval church growing out of the rock. The Baroque interior was stripped away and the wall paintings were uncovered and repainted.

Further renovations came in 1934-35, enlightened by better knowledge of the original art and architecture. Art Nouveau stained glass windows were also added. A major restoration in 1965-90 included replastering and painting the exterior, both to restore it to its original appearance and to protect the stonework, which was rapidly deteriorating while exposed to the elements.

The interior is covered in medieval frescoes dating from 1220 to 1235. They are magnificent and important survivals, but time has not been terribly kind to them - they were whitewashed over in the Baroque period (1749) and uncovered and repainted with a heavy hand in the Romantic period (1870s) before finally being restored more sensitively in the 1980s.