Castle complex, Gniew
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The valuable castle complex in Gniew it the first and one of the largest Teutonic fortress on the western bank of the Vistula River. Unlike other defensive complexes of the order, the convent house was located in the centre, within the walls of the castle grounds.

History

In 1276, the prince of Lubiszewo Tczewskie gave Teutons the Gniew land. The construction of the headquarters of commanders of the Order began around 1290; by the end of the 13th century, the construction of the following structures was already completed: perimeter walls of the castle, square turrets at the corners, huge tower (keep) at the north-eastern corner, and northern and southern wings with an entrance and wicket gate. In the early 14th century, the walls and turrets were extended upwards; the eastern and western wing, cloisters and porches were erected on the crown of the walls — by the first quarter of the 14th century a quadrangular castle with a moat, fore-wall (probably in the south-western turret of the Gdanisko fore-wall) was already built and the castle grounds were fortified with the Wodna and Dybowska Gates. After 1422, the interior of the castle was converted into the seat of Michael Kuechmeister, Grand Master of the Teutonic Order; the alterations involved bricking-up the entrance in the southern wing, creating a new entrance in the eastern wing, building the fore-wall with a bridge over the moat and a small house (extended in the 2nd half of the 17th c. and 19th c., so-called hunting lodge). Along the walls of the castle grounds were, among others, bakery, brewery, stables, servants' house, granary at the foot of the hill, and castle mill, among In 1463, the stronghold was taken over by the Polish army. The ruined castle became the residence of governors. In 1772, during the occupation of Pomerania by Prussia, the castle was earmarked for storing grain; the interior layout was altered; vaults were removed; the storeys were again partitioned; the façades were covered with plaster; in 1855, the main tower was lowered and the walls of the castle grounds was partly demolished. In 1857-1859, the original complex was partially restored, but it was converted to serve as a prison: plaster was removed, corner turrets underwent renovation (fourth turret was erected on the former main tower), the chapel vault and the walls of the castle grounds were reconstructed; a number of new windows were created; Gothic Gdanisko was demolished; and the remains of the moat and well in the courtyard were filled in. After 1920, the Polish authorities earmarked the castle for military purposes; in July 1921, three wings were destroyed in a fire, only the southern wing survived.

Renovation of the building began in 1969 (wings were roofed); further renovation have been carried out since 1992.

Description

The castle complex is located on the west bank of the Vistula river, on a hill on the northern side of the mouth of the Wierzyca river. It adjoins a medieval chartered town the west.

The Gothic fortress covers an area of approx. 3.2 ha. The central part features a quadrangular castle with a courtyard, built of brick in Gothic bond, and set on a stone foundation; the body of the castle is regular, has four wings covered with tall roofs; the corners incorporate square-shaped turrets covered with tented roofs (the north-eastern turret was extended upwards on the previously demolished keep in 1857-1859); the wings are the same in height and are partitioned into a different number of storeys; the entrance gates are located in the eastern (1422) and western (1772) wings. The façades with traces of alterations were pierced by windows (1857-1859); the lower sections of the façades feature ornaments made of burr brick; on the axis of the ground floor of the southern façade is a clearly discernible original entrance portal from the late 13th century; the upper sections feature tall pointed-arch windows of the chapel and chapter houses.

Fragments of the wall of the moat separating the former zwinger are located on the south and east side of the castle; the north-eastern corner incorporates a hunting lodge (probably, the former guardhouse extended in the 2nd half of the 17th century and in 1856-1859). The castle is surrounded by castle grounds; its area having the shape of an irregular polygon is enclosed by a defensive wall (the north-eastern fragment has not been preserved), which was built of brick in Gothic bond on a stone foundation in the 14th and 15th century (traces of alterations and additions). At the entrance from the city is a gatehouse of 1855; it was designed in the Gothic Revival style (the body is built on a rectangular floor plan; the multi-storey building is covered with a hip roof; an avant-corps with a pointed-arched gate and a stepped gable is located on the axis of the front façade; the façades are made of brick). The so-called Marysieńka Palace is located along the south-eastern line of the walls; in fact, it was a utility building converted in 1678 from two stables (from the 15th c. and 1565); in 1863, it was converted into a field hospital (residence of Maria Sobieska was demolished in the 1760s); the building was erected on the floor plan of an elongated rectangle; it has three storeys and is covered with a gable roof with Gothic Revival gables; the façades are regular, plastered, and are characterised by vertical articulation.

The castle complex is private property and houses a hotel, conference rooms and Castle Museum, and is used as a venue for outdoor stagings and knight tournaments.

Private property. Visitors are charged an entrance fee (PLN 10, PLN 15, family ticket: PLN 35). Viewing of the castle is only possible from Thursday to Sunday, starting from a full hour, from 10.00 a.m. to 3.00. p.m., and at 3.45 p.m., 4.15 p.m.; turystyka@zamek-gniew.pl

compiled by Teofila Lebiedź-Gruda, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Gdańsk, 24-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Haftka M., Zamki krzyżackie w Polsce. Szkice z dziejów, Malbork - Płock 1999, s. 106-113
  • Strzelecka I., Gniew, Wrocław 1982 r., s. 77-102
  • Dehio-Handbuch der Kunstdenkmäler West- und Ostpreuβen, bearb. von M. Antoni, München-Berlin 1993., s. 413-415

General information

  • Type: castle
  • Chronology: ok. 1290 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Zamkowa , Gniew
  • Location: Voivodeship pomorskie, district tczewski, commune Gniew - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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