The first mention of the castle comes from 1318, although it is probably older. Already in 1237, these lands belonged to the bishop of Riga, who in 1245 granted income from the local Riga parish to the cathedral chapter. Similarly to other castles of the archbishopric, Dondagen was also occupied several times by the Teutonic army, among others in 1318, 1359 and 1383. Eventually, in 1434, the Riga chapter decided to sell the castle to the Courland bishopric, in whose rule the castle remained until the second half of the sixteenth century, when the last bishop of Courland, Magnus sold the castle in private hands. Despite of the serious damages caused by the stronghold during the Polish-Swedish wars in the first half of the 17th century, Dondagen was the residence of subsequent German noble families until 1918. During this period, the castle was repeatedly and thoroughly rebuilt.
The castle was erected in the middle of a peninsula separated from the mainland by a moat. It consisted of a regular, rectangular courtyard surrounded by a defensive wall with dimensions 48 x 69 meters, to which residential buildings adjoined on three sides. Some of them had a basement, and the most important rooms were, like in the Teutonic castles, on the first floor. The only tower of the castle was a small gate tower located in the north-western part of the outer bailey, which was also surrounded by a defensive wall.
The castle has survived to modern times, however, as a result of many transformations, completely lost its original stylistic features. There are no medieval vaults or even castle cellars. The most distinctive element of today’s castle, the gate tower, is also an early modern element from the 17th century, created on the site of an earlier, medieval tower. Original is only the general shape of the castle.
Borowski T., Miasta, zamki i klasztory. Inflanty, Warszawa 2010.
Tuulse A., Die Burgen in Estland und Lettland, Dorpat 1942.