Dobele – Order Castle Doblen


   The first information about Doblen dates back to 1254, when it was granted to the Teutonic Knights by virtue of a settlement dividing the areas of southern Latvia between the order and individual bishoprics. At that time, it were still wooden – earth fortifications erected by pagan Balts, probably still outside the real power of the Order, because between 1279 and 1289 fierce battles were fought here, during which the crusaders unsuccessfully besieged Doblen. It was only at the beginning of the last decade of the thirteenth century that the pagan crew left the hillfort and went to Lithuania.
The exact date of construction of the brick castle is unknown, however, the basic works were completed no later than in 1376, when the first commander  of Doblen, Dietrich Holtey, appeared in the sources. The commandry functioned without interruption until 1562, although in the fifteenth century it did not have the required by rule number of 12 order brothers. After the secularization of the Livonian branch of the Order, a dispute arose between the last commander, Mathias von der Recke, and Gotthard Kettler, as a result of which the castle became the property of the latter after a few years. Then Doblen became part of the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia. Even at the beginning of the 17th century, the castle was extended, and the castle’s settlement was developing. To the fall of the city and the stronghold led only the Polish-Swedish wars, during which in 1625, 1658 and 1701 Doblen was occupied by the Swedes, and after the last invasion, the population was decimated by the plague. From the middle of the eighteenth century, the castle remained in ruin.


   The castle had an irregular courtyard, unusual for the Teutonic stronghold, probably due to the shape of the hill and earlier wood and earth fortifications. The upper castle was located in the northern corner. Its main, representative rooms were located in the south-west wing. There, the chapel was located, covered with a not preserved gothic stellar vault. In addition, there was a refectory and dormitory in the upper castle, required by the order’s rule. An interesting element was relatively rare in this region, and more frequent in Prussia, small, corner turrets. The outer bailey located to the south of the upper castle, with a series of buildings next to the eastern curtain, served as economic functions.

Current state

   Currently, ruins of Dobele castle are one of the most important medieval monuments of south-eastern Latvia. To date have survived: the ruined, main, southern range of the upper castle, the defensive walls on almost the entire length  and partly the eastern building of the outer bailey, unfortunately without internal divisions. Apparently, it is planned to rebuild the vault of the castle’s chapel.

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