Laiuse – Teutonic Castle Lais


Lais castle was established as one of the border strongholds of the Teutonic Order, administratively subordinate to the commandry in Fellin. It also guarded the northern section of the border between the order territory and the authority of the Dorpat (Tartu) bishops. The first mention of the castle dates from 1406, but it was probably built in the fourteenth century. Its importance increased with the increasing threat of Livonia on the side of the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Therefore, it was thoroughly rebuilt in the 15th century and its fortifications were adapted to use firearms. The castle walls and the gate have also been strengthened. However, even such a modernized castle succumbed to the troops of Ivan the Terrible and after being captured in 1559, it was partially destroyed. On the truce of Yam-Zapolsky, from 1582, it became the northernmost eldership of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Andrzej Orzechowski became the starost, whose efforts the castle was rebuilt, and around 200 settlers from the Swedish part of Estonia were brought to its vicinity. The development of the starosty (eldership) was stopped by the Polish-Swedish war. In 1600, the Swedes besieged the castle and captured it only after four weeks. Due to the death of the Orzechowski, the garrison gave up. However, a year later, the stronghold returned under Polish rule and remained the center of eldership until 1622, when it was again passed into Swedish hands. Eventually, the destruction of the castle was brought by the Great Northern War in the early 18th century.


The most important element of the castle from the fifteenth century was a powerful cannon tower with a diameter of 14 meters and 4 meters of wall thickness, located in the north-western corner of the stronghold, and a little smaller, analogous tower in the north-eastern corner. A similar one could be found on the south-eastern side. Certainly, the last south-western corner was not protected in this way, where only the remains of a much smaller turret have survived to this day. The fortified castle gate was located from the north – west, and the main residential building from the north – east side.

Current state

The castle is now an advanced ruin; in the best condition survived the north – western main tower, the curtain of the southern and western walls and the relics of the north – east tower. Entrance to the castle area is free.

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Borowski T, Miasta, zamki i klasztory, Inflanty, Warszawa 2010.