Vasknarva – Teutonic Castle Neuschloss


   Neuschloss castle was a Teutonic border stronghold and the seat of the teutonic vogts, located on the shores of Lake Peipsi. Its role was to defend the north – eastern border of Livonia and control the southern section of the Narva river, which was the main communication and trade route between Livonia and Ruthenia. The first fortifications, probably still wooden, were created in 1349, that is a few years after the Teutonic Knights bought the Danish part of Estonia. These fortifications were after construction soon destroyed by the Pskovites. It was not until the first half of the fifteenth century that the Order managed to strengthen its control over the region, and in 1427 work began on a new brick castle. Its first known Teutonic vogt was Peter Wesseler, who was in Neuschloss in 1433.
The castle remained in Order hands until 1558, when the last vogt Dietrich von der Steinkuhl submitted the castle to the Muscovite troops. Over the years Neuschloss witnessed the battles between Sweden and Russia. Repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt, it eventually lost its military significance at the end of the 17th century and turned into disrepair.


   The castle from the 15th century was a simple stronghold consisting of a single house of a tower-like character, with a plan dimensions of 15×23 meters and very massive walls up to 3.6 meters thick. Inside, between at least three floors, communication was provided by stairs placed in the thickness of the eastern and western walls (the latter had a spiral form), and in addition, in the southern wall, stairs from the upper floor led to the defensive porch (wall-walk). The main entrance was in the western wall, leading to one of the two rooms that filled the floor. The chapel or the vogt’s chamber was on the first floor, and the ground floor and attic had economic and defensive functions. In the southern part of the wall there were ogival windows.
   In the second half of the fifteenth century, the house was surrounded by a single line of defensive walls, equipped with a fortified gate on the north side and two corner towers: round from the north-west and quadrilateral from the south-east (according to some plans it is also presented as cylindrical). While the four-sided tower was entirely within the courtyard, the cylindrical tower, probably adapted to the use of firearms, was protruding significantly in front of the face of the walls and could flank the entrance gate.

Current state

   Only three walls of the main house and scattered remains of external fortifications have survived from the castle to the present.

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Alttoa K., Bergholde-Wolf A., Dirveiks I., Grosmane E., Herrmann C., Kadakas V., Ose J., Randla A., Mittelalterlichen Baukunst in Livland (Estland und Lettland). Die Architektur einer historischen Grenzregion im Nordosten Europas, Berlin 2017.

Borowski T., Miasta, zamki i klasztory. Inflanty, Warszawa 2010.
Tuulse A., Die Burgen in Estland und Lettland, Dorpat 1942.