The year 1263 is considered as the date of the castle’s creation, but it is not known whether it was already a brick stronghold. It guarded the border between the Teutonic Order and the dominion of the Archbishops of Riga. It also served as a point of storage and a place of refuge for the local population. It was not a high-ranking castle, therefore the first reference to it dates back to 1499. In 1481, Rujen was burnt by the army of Ivan the Terrible, however, the destruction could not be large, because the castle was quickly renovated, and in 1526 it was selected to the place of important negotiations concerning the acceptance by Riga of the new archbishop John Blankfeld. At the end of the existence of the teutonic power in Livonia, Rujen was even raised to the rank of commandry. Heinrich von Galen, who was in office until 1560, when the castle was destroyed by the Russians, became its only commander in history. In subsequent years, Rujiena was included into the Polish-Lithuanian state, and since the 20s of the seventeenth century it belonged to Sweden. If the castle still functioned at that time, it was certainly completely destroyed at the beginning of the 18th century during the Great Northern War.
The medieval form of the castle was limited to a courtyard surrounded by a wall and a ditch, with a roughly elongated oval plan, into which two gates led: the main gate on the west side and a smaller postern gate on the south side. The latter was directed to the river, providing protection to the south side of the castle. The circuit of the walls made of erratic stones was led close to the edges of the hill slopes. It was reinforced with a semicircular tower projected in front of the wall, probably already adapted to fire defense, located in the northern part of the castle, so that it could flank the ditch along a large part of its length. The tower form could also have a four-sided gatehouse, protruding towards the ditch on the west side. The stone buildings of the courtyard were limited to a few houses, adjacent to the inner faces of the walls.
Currently, only small relics of the old defensive walls are visible on the castle hill. Admission to the hill area is free.
Borowski T., Miasta, zamki i klasztory. Inflanty, Warszawa 2010.
Tuulse A., Die Burgen in Estland und Lettland, Dorpat 1942.