On the site of the Grudziądz castle, there was originally a Slavic timber – earth defensive hillfort. The creation of a brick Teutonic residence called Graudenz dates back to the second half of the 13th century. The first phase of construction probably began after the pacification of the second Prussian uprising, so in the late 70s of the thirteenth century, and was completed around 1299, when the castle chapel was consecrated. The beginnings of the Grudziądz commandry can be put on for the period between 1263 and 1269. Shortly after 1300, the main bergfried tower, called Klimek, in the first quarter of the 14th century the west wing of the castle was also built. In 1388, a part of it, along with the dansker and house of the commander, due to heavy rains fell to the Vistula river, but it was rebuilt in a similar form.
The castle had to be considered particularly defensive, since during the war with Poland the Grand Master Werner von Orseln chose it in 1330 for his headquarters. After the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, the castle was temporarily occupied by Polish troops. During the Thirteen Years’ War in 1454, it was quickly conquered by the forces of the Prussian Union and the Teutonic attempts to recapture it were ineffective. After the war and the incorporation of Royal Prussia to Poland, it became the seat of the starosts of Grudziądz. In 1655, it was taken by the Swedes who modernized the fortifications. Four years later, the stronghold was retook by the Poles. Partially destroyed were the walls and roofs of buildings. In the 18th century, the process of destruction continued, until the castle was almost completely demolished by order of the Prussian king Frederick William II. Only the demolition of the main tower was stopped, which unfortunately was blown up by German soldiers in 1945.
The castle was built on a 60-meter high escarpment overlooking the Vistula, separated by ravines and artificial crossings from neighboring hills. The main complex constituting the seat of the monastery was on the plan of an irregular quadrangle. Four ranges surrounded the courtyard with a well. In the north-west corner was a round tower, later called Klimek. It performed defensive, observational and prison functions. Its height was 30 meters, and the diameter was 8.9 meters. The entrance to it was placed 14 meters above the level of the courtyard. On the external walls, it was decorated with glazed bricks in the form of alternating belts made of natural bricks and glazed in green. It was a unique form of decoration in the Teutonic State.
The main three-story castle range was erected from the south. It housed a gateway in the ground floor, perhaps secured by a defensive bay suspended on the top floor and towering over the entrance. Certainly the gate was preceded by a foregate. Above the economic ground floor in the southern wing there was a refectory, a representative chamber (perhaps a second refectory, once considered as a chapter house), a narrow room separating them and the chapel of the Virgin Mary. The wing also had a third low storey serving storage and defense functions. The south façade of the southern range was divided with ogival blendes with the main and upper storey windows embedded in them, which was the main feature of the castle.
The western range was intended for the commander’s chamber and guest rooms. In the direction of Wisła river, a dansker tower was put on the arcades. On the east side a brewery, a bakery and a dormitory were located. In the second half of the fourteenth or the beginning of the fifteenth century, single-storied, brick, commercial buildings were erected along the northern curtain with a channel running under the north zwinger, that drains the waste from the castle’s kitchen. The kitchen was placed in the northern range, from the east it was adjacent to a barrel vaulted room with a basement.
Buildings from the side of the inner ward were connected with cloisters and from the outside, the whole was surrounded by a second perimeter of the wall. It was quite irregular, adapted to the terrain, which meant that the width of the zwinger was varied. After the western slope slid to the Vistula in 1388, the zwinger wall was not rebuilt here, but the dansker (latrine) was erected again and the half-timber building on the brick foundation under its arcades was also built. Its function is unknown.
From the north, south and east sides, the upper castle was surrounded by outer wards. The most extensive and oldest of them, created in the first half of the fourteenth century, protected by a four-sided tower, was located on the south side. At the eastern and western curtains there were two oblong economic buildings on it. The southern outer ward was connected with the eastern ward by the Fijowska Gate complex. Pressed between the perimeter wall and the wall of the lower zwinger, this gate had an unusual arrangement – the gatehouse tower was located near the curtain, and the foregate from the side of the southern ward. The southern ward was connected with the upper castle through a bridge, based on one side on the pillars, and on the other side on the wall of the entryway. Bridge was led over the moat and zwinger, additionally protected by a cylindrical tower.
In the second half of the fourteenth century, in the south-west corner of the zwinger of the upper castle, the commander’s house was erected. Probably a little later south of the entrance gate, also next to the zwinger wall, another brick building was erected. The commander’s house was a one-story structure with three rooms from which the extreme western one was equipped with a latrine, most likely in the form of a projection bay.
The castle in Grudziądz, not counting the small relics of the ground floor, did not survive to our times. In recent years, a new Klimek tower has been built, but this is not an accurate replica, but only a brick-concrete observation platform.
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