Between 1350 and 1360 Ortolf von Trier, a knight of the Teutonic Order and the Komtur of Elbląg, founded a fort in Galindia, probably near an Old Prussian settlement. The first mentioning of the fort was a document from 24 September 1360, after Ortolf invited Masoviancolonists, among whom the settlement became known as Szczytno. The first custodian of the settlement was Heinrich Murer. In 1370 the wooden fort was destroyed byLithuanians led by Kęstutis, after which it was rebuilt using stone. The name Ortulfsburg gradually changed into Ortelsburg. The settlement grew in size owing to its location on a trade route from Warsaw to Königsberg (now Kaliningrad).
The castle was occupied by Polish troops during the Thirteen Years' War. With its inclusion in the Duchy of Prussia in 1525, it lost its importance as a border fortress and began to decline. Margrave and regent George Frederick (1577–1603), who enjoyed hunting nearby, began the redevelopment of the area. Among his projects was the rebuilding of the castle into a hunting lodge.
Ortelsburg became the seat of Landkreis Ortelsburg, one of the largest in East Prussia, in 1818 after Prussian administrative reforms, with Ritter von Berg chosen as the first district administrator. It was almost completely destroyed on 30 August 1914 at the beginning of World War I by troops of the Russian Empire, with 160 houses and 321 commercial buildings burning down.References:
The Erfurt Synagogue was built c. 1094. It is thought to be the oldest synagogue building still standing in Europe. Thanks to the extensive preservation of the original structure, it has a special place in the history of art and architecture and is among the most impressive and highly rated architectural monuments in Erfurt and Thuringia. The synagogue was constructed during the Middle Ages on the via regia, one of the major European trade routes, at the heart of the historical old quarter very close to the Merchants Bridge and the town hall. Many parts of the structure still remain today, including all four thick outer walls, the Romanesque gemel window, the Gothic rose window and the entrance to the synagogue room.
After extensive restoration, the building was reopened in 2009. On display in the exhibition rooms is an collection of medieval treasures discovered during archaeological excavations. This includes 3,140 silver coins, 14 silver ingots, approx. 6,000 works of goldsmithery from the 13th and 14th centuries and an intricately worked wedding ring of the period, of which only two others are known to exist anywhere in the world. A mikveh (Jewish bath) has been excavated close by (13th/14th century). The Old Synagogue, the Small Synagogue and two Jewish cemeteries together form a network of historical buildings and sites which vividly portray the role of Jewish life in the history of Erfurt.