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Old June 17th, 2005, 08:22 PM   #1
DocentX
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Gothic Castles Trail of the Northern Poland

Adventure daredevils, sightseeing enthusiasts and lovers of old castles - come to visit the medieval castles of Warmia, Mazury, Powisle and Kaszuby, the four historic and ethnographic regions in the north and north-eastern Poland.

On the Trail of the Polish Gothic Castles you will see numerous fortifications constructed by the Teutonic Knights as well as those built by Roman Catholic bishops and Episcopal Chapters to protect their Christian dominion from the heathen world.

Today, the castles are a reminder of medieval life and chivalric rituals. Shows of knights and squires fighting with swords, crossbows and battleaxes, as much as feasts during which traditional Polish dishes are served will afford you a glimpse into the long bygone days of the Middle Ages.



http://www.zamkigotyckie.org.pl/index_e.html


Bytow



The Teutonic Knights started to build a fortified castle of Bytów in 1398-1405. They chose a hill situated over the town for the location of the castle.

During the Thirteen-year War, the castle of Bytow was taken over by the king of Poland, Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk, who made Bytow and its neighbourhood a lifelong donation for the duke of Pomorze Gryfit – Eryk II . In those times, the castle served as the duke’s summer residence.







Malbork



The town of Malbork was founded by the knights of the Order of the Teutonic Hospitalier Brothers of the Holy Virgin in Jerusalem (such was the official name of the Teutonic Knights), who in the 13th century began constructing a massive fortress on the right bank of the Nogat river.

The castle successfully withheld the siege after the Battle of Grunwald but eventually was sold !!! during the Thirteen Years' War in 1457 to Casimir IV (Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk) the king of Poland by the Bohemian king's imperial soldiers in lieu of their pay.

Since then Malbork continued to be one of the Polish royal residences until the partitions of Poland in 1772.

In 1945 the castle was severely damaged as a result of fights during World War II and was reconstructed thereafter.

Today the castle of Malbork is an unparalleled tourist attraction in this part of Poland. Its immense value was acknowledged in 1997, when this gigantic construction was inscribed on the UNESCO's World Heritage List.


















Sztum



Built in 1326-1331, the castle in Sztum safeguarded the Malbork (Marienburg) fortress from the south. Its other function was to give residence to the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order.

The Sztum castle remained in the hands of Teutonic Knights until 1468, when by the power of the Torun Treaty the town was incorporated into the Royal Prussia and for the many years to follow the edifice was a seat of high-ranking Polish military and administrative officials.




Gniew



The Gniew castle was the most powerful fortress of the Teutonic Order on the left bank of the Visula. Built at the turn of the 13th and 14th century, it was home to Commanders of the Order, and in the times when the town belonged to Poland, it housed the offices of local administrators.

Since 1992, the castle has been used as a venue for spectacles, historical shows and chivalric tournaments. Today it is recognised as one of the major centres for promoting and maintaining the medieval tradition and heritage in Poland.







Kwidzyn



Formerly a Prussian stronghold, Kwidzyn was conquered by the Order of Teutonic Knights and conferred town rights in 1233. From 1285 to 1587 Marienwerde (Virgin Mary's Island), as the Teutons had originally called the settlement, was a seat of the Bishops of the Pomesania Diocese.

Today, the Pomesanian Chapter's castle and the cathedral erected in the 14th and 15th centuries are the most precious historic and architectural treasures of Kwidzyn.
The impressive castle with its tall corner towers was part of the town's defensive system. The main tower, which still dominates the castle's skyline, served as the cathedral's belfry.

But surprisingly it is the sanitary tower, known as 'dansker", that distinguishes the Kwidzyn castle from all other Gothic castles built by the Teutons. The tower was added to the castle in 1384. It is situated 50 meters away from the west wing, and is accessible through a gallery spanning five tall arches.








Ostroda



One of the largest towns in the Masurian Lakeland, Ostróda can also boast a long history. The town is much older than its Gothic castle built by the Teutonic Knights in 1393 to replace an earlier timber fortress dating back to the 13th century.
For centuries the castle was a seat of the Commanders of the Order. Destroyed at the end of World War Two, it was reconstructed in 1977. Nowadays, it hosts many events, which take place in the courtyard and the castle rooms.





Nidzica



Nidzica is a town of notable architectural and historic importance. Owing to its location, Nidzica is sometimes called the gate to Mazury.

In 1381 the Grand Master Winrich von Kniprode granted the settlement charter rights. The Gothic castle raised in the same century has luckily survived until today and is, as it has been for centuries, a characteristic landmark of the town.

For over six hundred years, Nidzica has witnessed many historic events. Shortly before the battle of Grunwald (also referred to as the battle of Tannenburg) in 1410, the town was occupied by Polish and Lithuanian troops. In 1628 if fell victim to a Swedish invasion and in 1656 it was besieged, this time unsuccessfully, by the Tartars. During the Napoleonic campaign of 1806-1807, the town was forced to open its gates to French and Polish soldiers and some years later, in 1813, it fell into the hands of the Cossacks.







Olsztyn



Olsztyn prides itself on its castle of the Warmian Chapter.
Works on the original wing of the castle began in 1348. Later, the building was raised by one more storey and extended with the construction of the south wing and the upper cylindrical part of the corner tower.

For nearly five years, between 1516 and 1521, Nicolas Copernicus was in charge of the castle in Olsztyn.







Lidzbark Warminski



Historically, for over four centuries Lidzbark Warminski was the capital of Warmia, the domain of the bishops of the Warmian Diocese.

Among the most famous residents of the town were Nicolas Copernicus (Bishop's nephew, stayed in Lidzbark between 1503 and 1510) and Ignacy Krasicki (Bishop of Warmia, lived here from 1767 to 1795). In the Polish literature and history Krasicki is remembered as a writer, a poet, an art lover and a great friend of the last Polish king.

Both Copernicus and Krasicki resided at the Lidzbark castle, a true jewel among Polish monuments of architecture. The main building was raised on a 48.5 metre square plan in 1348 - 1400. The main part of the castle consists of four wings enclosing a courtyard with a two-storey gallery (no other Gothic gallery in Poland has been preserved in such a magnificent state to our times).








Ketrzyn



Ketrzyn (historically known under its name of Rastenburg) was founded by the Order of Teutonic Knights, who had earlier seized here a local Prussian settlement called Rast.

The timber watchtower that was originally built on this site was later replaced by a brick-laid castle. On 11th November 1357 the town, which had by then grown around the tower, was granted urban rights by the Commander of Bałga, Johann Schidenkopf. Soon afterwards, the construction of St George's Church, the castle and battlements commenced. At that time, the town had another brick church, known as St Catherine's Church. One of the oldest churches in Prussia, St Catherine's church sadly had to be pulled down in 1820.

In the 15th century the burghers of Ketrzyn rebelled against the oppressive power of the Teutonic order and in 1444 they joined several other Prussian towns, creating the Prussian Union. In 1454 the rebellious burghers seized the castle and paid homage to the Polish king, Władysław Jagiellonczyk. A year later, however, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order and the King of Poland signed the second Peace Treaty of Torun, by the force of which Ketrzyn was ceded back to the Order.

The golden age of the town fell to the 16th and early 17th century - between the secularisation of the Order (1525) and the outbreak of the war between Poland and Sweden (1628).





Ryn



Built in the second half of the 14th century, the Ryn castle was intended to be a base for the Teutonic Knights in their wars against Lithuanians.
Until 1525 the castle was a seat of the Commander of the Order.

The first commander to reside at the castle was the future Grand Master of the Order, Konrad Wallenrod, immortalised by the great Romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz in his poem on faith and treachery entitled Konrad Wallenrod.

Another Grand Master of the Order, Winrich von Kniprode, who arrived in Ryn in 1378 to inspect and take possession of the fortress, chose to return to Malbork by water. Ever since then Ryn has been known to have a system of waterways connecting the town with the Baltic sea.

On July 21st 1723 Ryn was granted a charter by the King of Prussia, Frederic Wilhelm I. Long beyond any military use, the medieval castle was converted into a prison in 1853. At present one of the castle's wings contains the offices of the Commune Council.


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Old June 17th, 2005, 11:55 PM   #2
Phobos
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Malbork is amazing.One of the best in Europe.
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Old June 18th, 2005, 10:00 PM   #3
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very nice! but is everything in red brick, pretty boring. It should have been built in stone then it would be amazing
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Old June 19th, 2005, 05:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ringil
very nice! but is everything in red brick, pretty boring. It should have been built in stone then it would be amazing

red brick is faster and easier. Besides, look at Italian renisence buildings - all red brick too.
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Old July 26th, 2005, 12:11 AM   #5
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In my opinion one of the best parts of Poland.
Stunning architecture combined with scenic natural beauty

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