Castle, Kętrzyn
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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An example of a castle built by the Teutonic Order and reconstructed after World War II, surrounded by a zwinger; a distinctive feature of this castle is the absence of a tower. One of the castles of Bałgi commandry (Komturei) performing the function of an outpost from which the knights of the Teutonic Order launched attacks against Lithuanian territories; in addition, the castle also served as the seat of the local prosecutor.

History

The brick and stone castle was erected in years 1360 – 1370 in place of an earthen and wooden fort. The castle consisted of three wings and was built on a square plan; the structure, which did not incorporate any towers into its design, was subsequently surrounded with a defensive wall with three fortified towers (two round towers and one square tower); the most probable time of construction of the wall is the early 16th century. The northern wing served as the main castle building, containing the chambers of the public prosecutor, a refectory and a chapel; the entrance gate, accentuated by a short avant-corps and leading to a small courtyard, was positioned in the curtain wall on the western side of the castle. Following the secularisation of Prussia in 1525, the castle became a seat of the district governor (starosta). In years 1528-1529 and 1559-1566, the castle was modernised; a second gate was added in the eastern wing and a bay window was constructed above the main gate, where it survives to this day. In 1622, in the north-west corner of the courtyard, in place of the earlier walkways which took the form of wooden cloisters, a cylindrical tower with a staircase was built. In addition, groin vaults were built in a number of rooms, while certain rooms on the ground floor were adapted as living quarters. In 1682, the upper storey of the northern wing, along with its decorative gables, was demolished. At the end of the 18th century the castle was gutted by fire. In years 1911 – 1912, the rooms inside the castle were adapted to serve as living quarters. It was during that period that a number of rectangular windows were added, which, along with earlier modifications, led to the loss of the Gothic character of the edifice. In 1945 the castle burned down. It was reconstructed in years 1962-1967; the reconstruction process also included the regothicisation of the northern wing based on the drawings of Conrad Steinbrecht (1849-1923); as a result, the northern wing regained its original height and its decorative gables were reconstructed.

Description

The Kętrzyn castle was built on a small plateau surrounded by the wetlands around the Mill Pond (Staw Młyński) into which the waters of the Guber river flowed. The dimensions of the castle were 31.3 x 36.7 metres; it was designed as a brick structure based on foundations made of field stones. The relatively limited functional programme and limited defensive features of the complex were presumably the consequence of the fact that the incastellated complex of the church of St George, located within the city limits, was erected nearby. The main building of the castle complex – the northern wing of the castle – was built on a rectangular floor plan (13.3 x 31.1 metres) features a basement and three storeys, i.e. one more than both of the remaining wings of the castle (the eastern and the southern one). All wings are crowned with gable roofs clad with ceramic roof tiles. A cylindrical tower survives in the corner of the small, square courtyard. During the reconstruction of the castle, the original layout of its interiors was not recreated; new passages were built inside the castle, with the entire structure being adapted to serve as a museum and library. The outer fortifications of the castle have not survived, their only traces being the outlines of their foundations.

The castle is open to visitors and may be viewed during the opening hours of the museum.

Compiled by Adam Mackiewicz, 7.12.2014.



Bibliography

  • Czubiel L., Zamki Warmii i Mazur, Olsztyn 1986, p. 26-29.
  • Jackiewicz-Garniec M, Garniec M., Zamki państwa krzyżackiego w dawnych Prusach. Powiśle, Górne Prusy, Warmia, Mazury, Olsztyn 2006, p. 177 – 185
  • Kajzer L., Kołodziejski S., Salm J. Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Warszawa 2001, p. 223-225

General information

  • Type: castle
  • Chronology: 1360-1370
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kętrzyn
  • Location: Voivodeship warmińsko-mazurskie, district kętrzyński, commune Kętrzyn (gm. miejska)
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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