Bytów – Teutonic Castle

History

    The construction of the Bütow castle by the Teutonic Order began in 1390 during the reign of pfleger Jakub von Reinach. Construction work completed in 1405, was directed by an outstanding Teutonic builder, Nicholas Fellenstein, brought from Malbork. Probably he was the author of the concept departing from the typical conventual castle and allowing the use of firearms for defense. At the end of the 14th century, it was an innovative solution.
    
In 1466, the castle was bought by the Pomeranian duke Erik II, and his successor Bogusław X began transforming the stronghold. It received earth fortifications, corner bastions and the entrance was transformed. New economic and residential buildings were also erected along the walls. Being an important seat of Griffins dynasty, the castle has transformed into a comfortable, early modern residence.
   
The object suffered the first losses during the Thirty Years War, when the imperial troops ravaged Bytów. In 1638, after the final death of the last Gryffin member, the town of Bytów and the castle became Polish, and from that time became the seat of starosts. During the Polish-Swedish wars, the castle burnt down, then partially rebuilt, served as a court and prison. After the Second World War it was finally renovated and became the seat of the West Pomeranian Museum.

Architecture

    The castle was built of brick and glacial erratic stones on a rectangular plan with dimensions of 49×70 meters. At the north-west curtain a residential house, 36 meters long and 11 meters wide, was built. It was a three-storey building with a basement. A timber communication porch adjoined it from the courtyard side. The main rooms, such as the chambers of the teutonic pfleger and his knights, the refectory and the chapel, occupied the second, representative storey. It was illuminated by tall windows placed from the north-west side. Small toilet window bays have also been located here. The highest floor served as a granary and warehouse. The shorter walls of the residential house were topped with gothic gables, later lowered and transformed. On the inner courtyard was also a well and a two-storey kitchen attached to the south-western wall.
   
An important role in the defense system was played by powerful, corner towers with arrowslits for firearms. They were joined by a wall, 12 to 15 meters high. A four-sided tower stood right next to the residential house, on the opposite side the Mill Tower, from the south Rose Tower and from the east Field Tower. In the only partially preserved tower, standing outside the north-western wall, there was probably a dansker (latrine tower). The castle gate was placed in a tower on a rectangular plan in the north-eastern curtain. It was preceded by a drawbridge over a moat about 10 meters wide. The smaller, not preserved gatehouse stood on the outside of the moat.

Current state

    Currently, the renovated Bytów castle is one of the best preserved Teutonic castles. Despite the changes introduced in early modern times, its medieval layout is fully legible. There is a hotel with a restaurant, a library and a museum in it. Opening hours can be checked on the castle page here.

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bibliography:
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, L.Kajzer, S.Kołodziejski, J.Salm, Warszawa 2003.