The first earth and timber fort was raised in Ostróda (Osterode) by the Teutonic knights in the mid-13th century. It stood in the fork between the Drwęca river branches, replacing an earlier Prussian stronghold. Construction of a brick castle built on a stone foundation was started by the Ostróda Commander (Hauskomtur) around 1349. The old earth and timber fortress together with the unfinished brick castle were hit by a fire during a Lithuanian raid commanded by duke Kiejstut in 1381. Soon afterwards a new brick castle was built.
The convent castle was constructed on a square plan, 44.7 x 45.2 m externally. Originally it had four wings with an archway in the west wing. Recently, the castle has been restored in the shape it had after the fire in 1788. Three wings (south, wet and north) have been preserved, although they lack the topmost storey, which was used for defense and storage. Some researchers claim that the castle had a tower in the south-east corner. To the north, there was a sanitary tower, most probably connected with the north wing of the castle by a wooden walk. During the archaeological excavations at the castle, the bases of pillars were unearthed, which may have supported the wooden gallery leading to the sanitary tower. The south wing contained a chapel, the commander's quarters and a refectory. The remaining wings most probably held the chapter room, infirmary and dormitories for brother knights and guests. The communication within the castle was through wooden walks parallel to the internal sides of the walls. Rooms on the ground floor in the north and south wings have preserved original cross and ribbed vaults on arches supported by granite pillars (partly reconstructed), while the cellars underneath are topped with cross vaults on diagonal arches. After the battle of Tannenberg, for two months Ostróda castle remained in the hands of Duke of Masovia, Janusz Mazowicki, who received the castle from the Polish King Władysław Jagiełło. In September 1410 the castle returned to the Teutonic Knights. In 1629 the Swedish King, Gustav Adolph resided at Ostróda castle. For six years, from 1633 to 1639, the castle was ruled by the Silesian Duke of Legnica and Brzeg, John Christian.
In the great fire of Ostróda in 1788, the flames reached the castle, where large quantities of gunpowder were stored in the east wing at that time. Soon a gigantic explosion damaged the east wing and the castle roofs. Although the castle was rebuilt, it did not regain its previous shape - the east wing was not reconstructed and the whole castle was one storey lower. In the 19th century the walls were plastered and many extensions were added to the castle building. From 21st February to 1st April 1807 the castle hosted the French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. He arrived here to rest after the exhausting battle at Prussian Eylau, which was victorious for the French party but caused much bloodshed. A rather unexpected outcome of that brief stay at Ostróda castle was a number of arts objects documenting the event. The Ostróda Museum exhibits a replica of the painting by the French artist Marie Nicolas Ponce-Camus 'Napoleon promises his grace to Ostróda burgers. March 1807'; the original canvas hangs in the historic gallery at Versailles. Another exhibit at Ostróda Castle which commemorates Napoleon I is a silver medal 'Napoleon a Osterode', made by the French graver Bertrand Andrieu. In the 19th century the castle was a seat for the local administration office and court of justice. There were also several apartments for officials. In 1945 the castle was burnt by the Soviet Army and remained in the state of preserved ruin for nearly thirty years. The reconstruction of the castle was commenced in 1974 and continued until the 1990s. At present, the castle houses the Museum of Ostróda, the Centre of Culture, a gallery and a library.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.