Rakvere – Castle Wesenberg


   Wesenberg castle was erected on the site of a wooden and earth hillfort of the pagan Ests, captured by the Danish crusaders in 1220. These areas captured by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword Order, incorporated later into the Teutonic Order, returned to the Kingdom of Denmark and it was under its rule that the first stone fortifications were erected. Stronghold played an important role during the war with Ruthenia, when in 1268 survive crusaders of nearby battle with the Pskov and Novgorod troops, found a shelter here. The victorious troops did not attempt to capture the castle and, after being content with the plunder of the area, returned to the east. In 1346, bankrupt Denmark, sold northern Estonia to the Teutonic Order. Wesenberg became a conventual castle and seat of the teutonic vogt and was strengthened and expanded.
In 1558, the army of Ivan the Terrible appeared under the walls of the castle. The defense did not last long, because the small and demoralized Teutonic Knights, commanded by Gerhard Huyn von Amstenraide, surrendered and left the stronghold. A dozen years later, it was captured by the Swedes, and then after the outbreak of the Polish-Swedish war in 1602, occupied by Polish-Lithuanian troops. Formally, Wesenberg was never incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, as already in 1605, the Swedish counteroffensive recapture the fortress. During these fights, the castle suffered serious damages and eventually lost its military significance. In 1618, it was given to the Dutch ambassador Reinhold von Brederode, but neither he nor any of the subsequent private owners undertook reconstruction. The first conservation work began around 1901.


   The castle from the 14th century was a two-part complex with a four-wing upper castle and an outer bailey on the south side. The most representative wing of the upper castle was the southern wing, the importance of which was emphasized by two later corner towers. The most important chambers were probably on the first floor. This can be proved by the heating system on the ground floor, which ensured heating of the first storey. Such a system had each of the four wings of the castle, most of the chambers were also vaulted, making it difficult to identify the most important rooms. The castle chapel was probably located in the east wing, and the southern one could house the vogt’s private chambers, but these are just speculations. The communication on the first floor was provided by an external, partly stone cloister. It is also worth noting the narrowing to the north of the thickness of the eastern wall and the width of the eastern rooms, thanks to which the architects wanted to give the courtyard a shape similar to a square, in accordance with the norms of the religious rule.
In the south – east corner of the upper castle a huge main tower was erected, and its north – west corner was protected by an additional external wall. The main gate of the ward was guarded by a powerful cylindrical tower, probably the latest addition to the castle’s defense system.

Current state

   The castle is preserved today in the form of an impressive ruin. It is managed by the castle museum, which organizes numerous attractions, cultural and outdoor events, as well as exhibitions and historical stagings. An exhibition of archaeological findings from the castle grounds has been functioning in Rakvere since 1988.

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Borowski T, Miasta, zamki i klasztory, Inflanty, Warszawa 2010.
Zamki regionu Morza Bałtyckiego, red. T.Kjaergaard, Bydgoszcz 1995.