The castle was built around 1285 on the site of an older hillfort on the initiative of the Livonian land master, Wilhelm von Nindorf. It was the seat of teutonic vogts, administratively subordinate to the commandry in Daugavpils. The first vogt witnessed by sources was Otto Paschedag, who was in Rositten around 1288. The castle guarded Latgale, the south-eastern region of Livonia and due to its central location it was also an important administrative center. It remained in order hands until 1559, when it was pledged, and later joined permanently to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1577, the stronghold was occupied by forces of Ivan the Terrible, which burned the nearby settlement. The victorious campaign of king Stefan Batory regained the castle for the Polish-Lithuanian state, in whose borders Rezekne remained until the Partitions. The castle for a long time kept its military significance and took part in the Polish-Swedish struggle of the 17th century. The final destruction brought to it fighting between 1656 and 1660. Since then, the castle ruins have unfortunately served as a source of building materials for the developing city.
The plan of the castle depended on the terrain and the earlier wood and earth fortifications. Therefore, unlike most of the Teutonic castles, it was similar to an oval, within which the upper ward was separated in the western, highest part of the hill. From the east, the upper ward was protected by the economic ward, and the entire complex was surrounded by an irrigated moat over which a drawbridge was placed from the west. The connection of the upper ward with the eastern ward, which was not separated by any ditch, was characteristic.
The upper ward was protected by a massive cylindrical tower located in the southern part of the courtyard. There were also the most important rooms of the stronghold attached to the inner faces of the defensive walls: the vogt’s chambers, a chapel and perhaps a refectory in the eastern wing. In addition, the castle was equipped with two more towers: the eastern one, built on a quadrilateral plan, and cylindrical one from the west, both of which secured entrance gates. These fortifications were not built right away, but were the result of successive reconstructions and modernizations.
The entrance to the upper ward took place through the gateway in the north-eastern part to the eastern ward. From there, it was necessary to take a detour along the southern walls and through a small southern courtyard to the west of the castle, where the main outer entrance gate was located.
Currently, only small fragments of the teutonic castle remains, reaching several meters in the highest parts on the steep hill. Entrance to the ruins is free.
Borowski T., Miasta, zamki i klasztory. Inflanty, Warszawa 2010.
Tuulse A., Die Burgen in Estland und Lettland, Dorpat 1942.