Bierzgłowo – Teutonic Castle


    The first timber defensive building on the site of the Bierzgłowo (Birglau) castle was built in 1242. These oldest fortifications were partially destroyed by the Lithuanian invasion of 1263, which survived only an unidentified, perhaps brick tower. The construction of a new brick Teutonic residence took place after 1260, during the commander Arnold von Kropf. The lower, stone parts of the walls come from this period. Further work and expansion took place in 1305, although in 1415 the castle lost the function of the convent’s seat, transforming into the seat of the Teutonic pfleger. After the Thirteen Years War, it passed to the Polish hands and, despite partial destruction, it was still used by Toruń counselors. The 16th-18th centuries brought many fires, the last of which in 1782, caused total ruin. In the 19th century reconstruction attempts were made, unfortunately mainly in the neo-gothic style.


    The castle consisted of two parts: the upper castle surrounded by a double perimeter wall and a separated outer ward of a trapezoidal outline. Both parts were separated by a wide moat, bounded on both sides by a high retaining wall, serving simultaneously as a defensive wall.
The main entrance to the outer ward led across the bridge over the outer moat, surrounding the entire castle complex and a strong gatehouse tower erected in front of the walls, topped by a stepped gable. Its current appearance is the effect of the nineteenth-century regothisation, it was probably higher at first. On the outer ward there is also a huge, economic building from the Teutonic era, near the south-eastern wall. In the north corner the half tower has been preserved.
The entrance to the inner ward of the upper castle has a unique form of an ogival portal with a figural decoration and an inscription made of glazed tiles. The main castle house was a two-storey west range, built on a rectangular plan with dimensions of 12×46 meters. The refectory was probably located on the first floor of the northern part of the west range, in the southern part of the west range there was another room of unknown purpose. Perhaps this part had also dansker, as indicated by the presence of parts of the arcade at the west elevation. Not much is known about the building at the southern curtain, it is possible that there were residential rooms and a convent’s bedroom. The north-west corner, west of the gate, was occupied the third range. It probably originated to the first phase of the castle construction and was the oldest erected building. It measured 11×22 meters and housed a castle’s chapel. The communication between the rooms of the three ranges was provided by a stone and vaulted cloister. The upper castle was surrounded by an external wall and additionally from the north, west and south, by the wall surrounding the entire castle complex.

Current state

    Today’s appearance of the castle is largely the result of the 19th century reconstruction, although the original layout remained legible. The conventual building of the upper castle (west range) and the economic building on the outer bailey are best preserved, as well as the rebuilt entrance gatehouse. The northern range of the upper castle did not survive, it was demolished in the 19th century. At present, the Diocesan Cultural Center is located in the castle and it is open to visitors.

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Leksykon zamków w Polsce, L.Kajzer, S.Kołodziejski, J.Salm, Warszawa 2003.
Torbus T., Zamki konwentualne państwa krzyżackiego w Prusach, Gdańsk 2014.
Wasik B., Budownictwo zamkowe na ziemi chełmińskiej od XIII do XV wieku, Toruń 2016.