Kuldīga – Order Castle


   The first mention of Kuldīga comes from 1242, when the Teutonic land master of Livonia, Dietrich von Grüningen issued a building permit in this place of a castle originally called Jesusborg, next to a burned pagan hillfort. The Order wanted it to make a base for further south expansion and strengthen teutonic power in Courland. Although the Teutonic Order was never able to secure direct communication between Prussia and Livonia, Kuldīga remained of great importance as the center of the region. The first known commander was the order knight Bruno, witnessed in 1252. He was also a member of the informal council of the highest order dignitaries in Livonia who advised the land masters. The sources of income were subordinate lands, trade on the Venta river and a castle mill.
Throughout the Middle Ages, the castle has remained meaningful and has not been damaged in any way, being in the second half of the fifteenth century one of the few commandry that still had the required by rule number of 12 members. After the fall and secularization of the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order, Kuldīga became one of the main residences of the dukes of Courland and Semigallia. At that time, the town experienced a period of economic prosperity during which the castle was rebuilt. Its total destruction took place at the beginning of the 18th century, when during the Great Northern War it was destroyed during the Swedish-Russian battles. The remaining ruins were demolished at the beginning of the 19th century.


   The castle in Kuldīga was situated on the southern bank of the Ventspils river, which protected it from the north and east. It consisted of the conventual upper ward and the economic outer bailey surrounding it. The four-wing upper ward was probably equipped with four, corner towers, and an outer bailey in at least three towers, one of which was on the north side and two on the south. The economic buildings were adjacent to the inner side of the perimeter wall.

Current state

   The castle has not survived to the present day, its foundations are buried in the ground, and the only element available is a single fragment of the castle’s basement.

show this place 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.