Castle of bishops of Warmia, Reszel
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Castle of bishops of Warmia

Reszel

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An example of a border area fortress.

History

The construction of the present brick and stone castle was commenced in 1350, and completed ca. in 1401. The castle complex was based on a rectangular floor plan sized 45 x 48 m. To take advantage of the natural defensive features, the fortress was built on a high hill with a steep slope of the ravine of the river Sajna. It is believed that the initiator of construction of the castle in Reszel was bishop Jan I of Miśnia. Walls of the fortress are made of brick, while the building material for foundations and part of basement walls was fieldstone. Since construction of such a monumental architectural complex required enormous labour and costs, the castle was erected in stages. During the first stage, the eastern house and part of peripheral walls were built. In years 1360–1370, the full perimeter of the fortress with a low corner tower was completed. Until 1400, the southern and western wings were built, as well as brick cloisters, and a foregate and upward extension of the tower built earlier. In the early 15th century, a new gatehouse was built and the curtain wall was extended upwards. The system of external fortifications was extended, and thoroughly modernised in 1505–1533. Under the rule of cardinal Andrzej Batory, the castle underwent comprehensive renovation and construction works. It is hardly know what was the later fate of the castle. What is known is that in the second half of the 18th century the castle lost its importance, which manifested, among other things, in that only some of its rooms were used. In the end of the 18th century, an information appeared that it was earmarked for a prison, which resulted in substantial transformations of the layout of castle rooms. The fires which broke in 1806 and 1807, caused material damages. The reconstruction commenced in years 1822–1823 stopped the advancing destruction, but even with that numerous important elements of the former seat of bishops of Warmia were lost irreversibly. After the renovation, the castle became the seat of a Lutheran congregation, which resulted in further transformations. In the inter-war period, a general renovation of the fortress, which was substantially damaged because of whether conditions and inappropriate use, was undertaken. Following the renovation, a regional museum was housed in the castle. After the World War II, another renovation was started and archeological works were carried out on the castle. During that period, the structure became the seat of "Pojezierze" Association.

Description

The quadrangular castle complex in Reszel was comprised of an eastern wing, housing residential premises and a chapel with a stellar vault on the first floor. The southern wing contained bishop's apartments, small and large refectory, and premises of a tenant. Two uppermost storeys of both wings were used for warehouse and defensive purposes, while on the ground floor, there were utility facilities. The eastern wing housed an armoury, burgrave's kitchen and rooms for officials. In the southern wing on the ground floor there was a kitchen, brewery, and bath. The western wing of the castle featured an entrance gate and two-storey buildings housing administrative and residential premises. The rooms of the northern wing were used in a similar way. Changes in the way the castle was used, which took place later, resulted in numerous transformations of its original form, especially when it comes to the internal layout of rooms and their décor. Even so, the fortress is still an impressive, monumental building.

The castle houses a branch of the Museum of Warmia and Mazury, a hotel, restaurant, and gallery.

Compiled by Hanna Mackiewicz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board in Olsztyn, 8 September 2014.



Bibliography

  • Kajzer L., Kołodziejski S., Salm J. Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Warszawa 2001, s. 424-428.
  • Czubiel L., Zamki Warmii i Mazur, Olsztyn 1986, s. 73-81.
  • Rzempołuch A., Architektura zamków warmińskich w świetle najnowszych badań [w:] Folia Fromborcensia, 1992 R. 1, nr 1, s. 14-17.
  • Ciborowski M. Zamek w Reszlu, Reszel, 2001

General information

  • Type: castle
  • Chronology: 1350-1401
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Reszel
  • Location: Voivodeship warmińsko-mazurskie, district kętrzyński, commune Reszel - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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