Valmiera – Order Castle Wolmar


   The castle and the town of Wolmar were the second largest after the Wenden (Cēsis) center of the Teutonic Order in northern Latvia. The history of the castle began around 1224, when the Order of Livonian Brothers of the Sword erected the first, probably still wooden stronghold, around which merchants soon began to settle. Masonry fortifications of both the castle and the town were created in the fourteenth century. In the sixteenth century, during the invasions of the troops of Ivan the Terrible, the castle twice, in 1560 and 1562, repulsed the enemy attacks, yielding only in 1577, after the town representatives were sent to the Moscow troops camp for peace talks and cut down. In the second half of the 16th century, the castle became the target of fierce Polish-Swedish fights, including in 1601, 1622 and in 1659. Finally, it was destroyed during the Great Northern War in the early eighteenth century by the Russian army. Unfortunately, from that moment it started to serve as a source of free construction material.


   The plan of the castle had the form of an elongated quadrangle with walls clearly widening towards the west. This shape could have been influenced by the form of the land on which it was built, limited to the south by the Gauje River, and from the north and east by a smaller stream flowing into it. The fortifications consisted of the upper ward on the eastern side and a small outer bailey located on the west side, in front of the town, reinforced by two corner cylindrical towers. The defensive system of the castle was coupled with the town fortifications that were connected with the aforementioned towers in the outer ward. The thickness of the castle walls was 2.25 meters, about 100 meters long, and 30 to 50 meters wide.
   Inside the walls of the upper ward there was a courtyard with residential and economic buildings added to the inner faces of the walds. The main representative and living rooms were probably located in the safest, narrowed eastern part, where there could be a large hall with a vault based on a central pillar, mentioned in the sources.

Current state

   Until today, a dozen-meter fragment of the castle wall and numerous smaller stone relics have survived. Entrance to the castle is free.

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Borowski T., Miasta, zamki i klasztory. Inflanty, Warszawa 2010.
Tuulse A., Die Burgen in Estland und Lettland, Dorpat 1942.