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:
Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.
The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.
In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.
Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.
About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.
Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.
A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.