Aizpute – Order Castle Hasenpoth


   The first castle in the episcopal city of Hasenpoth was probably built on the initiative of the Teutonic landmaster of Livonia, Dietrich von Grüningen, between 1247 and 1249. Its main task was to guard the southern part of the route connecting Prussia with Livonia. Due to the rejection of Christianity by the Lithuanian king Mindaugas and the defeat of the order army at Durben in 1260, great pagan uprisings broke out both in Prussia and in Livonia, and the roads became dangerous. Then, around 1295, the bishop of Courland and the Courland cathedral chapter decided to move their headquarters more to the north, just to Hasenpoth, given little earlier by the Order to the bishopric. The bishop of Courland, however, a few years later moved to Piltene and Aizpute remained in the hands of the Courland cathedral chapter.
In the 16th century, the castle passed into private hands and was already described as a granary. Together with the city, it was destroyed several times during the Polish-Swedish wars. In 1665 the castle was repaired and the garrison of prince Jacob Kettler, a vassal of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth,  stationed there. After his death in 1682, it passed into the hands of Michael Frederick Nolde, who made the rebuilding, erecting another wing of the castle. In subsequent centuries, it gradually lost its importance and was only partially inhabited. Finally abandoned in the 70s of the twentieth century, fell into disrepair.


   The castle had a regular shape, referring to the Teutonic Order fortified constructions. It was a two-winged complex with a courtyard shaped like a square, enclosed by a single defensive wall from the north and west. The east wing was two-story, and in the south wing there was a main entrance gate. Quite unusual was the wicket gate in the western wall, also dated to the medieval period. Probably the castle had a tower located east of the main gate, although the thicker foundations there, may be the original, earlier border of the castle. In this case, the east wing had to be added later. The castle probably had a chapel, perhaps a chapter house, as well as rooms for the guests of the cathedral chapter. The spacious courtyard of the castle was characteristic, where merchants’ carts, military units, and other travelers could stop.

Current state

   The castle has kept to the present times, although heavily rebuilt and ruined, its basic architectural shape. Its original appearance is disturbed by rectangular windows pierced in a later period. In the 1990s, only minor repair works were carried out, covering a fragment of the castle at the main gate.

show this monument on map

return to alphabetical index

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