Burtnieki – Castle Burtneck


   The castle dates back to the first half of the 14th century, and the name Burtneck appeared for the first time in historical sources in 1357. It did not have much military significance, it was rather a fortified point of the composition of food stocks, among others cereals and fish caught in a nearby lake and a control center of surrounding lands. It was also a frequent subject of disputes between the lawsuits of the Archbishops of Riga and the Teutonic Order. Administratively, it was subordinate to the commandery at Wenden, being a source of income for this order center. After the invasion of Ivan the Terrible forces in Livonia and the secularization of the Teutonic Order, the castle was joined to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It became the property of the Wenden bishopric funded by king Stefan Batory. In the following century, it belonged to Sweden, then to Russia, and from the mid-eighteenth to the early nineteenth century, it was privately owned, gradually losing its medieval appearance to an early modern residence.


   Burtneck was situated on a small hill near the southern shores of the large Burtnieks Lake. It was a typical wayside castle” with a spacious courtyard surrounded by a stone defensive wall and a circumferential ditch. Armed troops could stationed inside the defensive perimeter and it could serve as a storehouse for food or weapons. The main castle house was located at the north-west curtain, and on the opposite side there was an entrance gate to the stronghold. At the inner faces of the defensive walls, there could also be other domestic buildings erected in a wooden or half-timbered structure.

Current state

   At present, an early modern residence from the 18th / 19th century is located in the place of the medieval castle. The most interesting remains of the original stronghold are overgrown fragments of castle walls.

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