Ostróda – Teutonic Castle

History

   The Osterode Castle was probably built in the place of the Prussian settlement, located on an important trade route from Masovia to the Baltic Sea. The first, still timber fortifications were raised by the Teutonic Knights at the beginning of the 14th century. The construction of a brick stronghold began with the commander Gunther von Hohenstein in 1349. The works lasted to around 1380. The castle was the seat of an important commandry established on the southern border of the Teutonic state. Under it were strongholds in Nidzica, Działdowo and Olsztynek. Because of its location and rank, large quantities of weapons were stored in it. Ostróda as one of eight commandries, at the end of the fourteenth century was equipped with firearms, in 1391 there were six cannons.
    
In 1381, the castle was burned by the Lithuanian army of Kęstutis and rebuilt until 1397. The stronghold was briefly into Polish hands in 1410 after the battle of Grunwald, when it was taken over by the knight Nicholas von Doringen. It were temporarily here laid the corpses of the fallen Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen and the commander of Ostróda. The following year, the new great master, Henry von Plauen, convened a large council of Prussian states at the Ostróda Castle, which task was to accept new taxes and rebuild the country from war damages.
    
Once again, the castle was captured by the insurgents of the Prussian Confederation in 1454, at the beginning of the Thirteen Years’ War. However, it was quickly reccaptured by the Teutonic Knights, who kept it until the end of the war and after the Second Peace of Toruń. After the secularization of the Order in 1525, the seat of the starost was placed in it.
In the 17th century, the castle’s defense system was modified, surrounding it with ramparts and bastions. In 1788, the explosion of gunpowder completely destroyed the eastern wing. The remaining parties were rebuilt by liquidating the highest floors. Later, the dilapidated stronghold was adopted for administrative purposes. During World War II, the building was completely burned. The reconstruction began in 1974.

Architecture

   The castle was erected in the north-west corner of the town. It probably did not have a collective fortification system with the town, from which it was separated by a moat, fed by the branch of the Drwęca River. The castle was built of brick on a stone plinth, on a square plan with dimensions of 44.7 × 45.2 meters. Around the inner courtyard stood four ranges of equal width, two-story with cellars. On the ground floor, there were utility rooms, covered with rib vaults, supported by granite pillars. In a small room at the entrance, on the right, the vault was based on a single granite pillar preserved to this day. The kitchen and the convent’s pantry were located in the north wing. The floor was representative and residential. In the south range there was a refectory from the west and a chapel from the east. On the axis of the west wing, a gate was placed, preceded by an advanced foregate. On the first floor, to the north of the gate, were two rooms for the commander. The second storey of the northern range was filled with a great refectory, connected by a porch with a dansker (latrine). Probably the eastern wing was created at the latest. Above the first floor there was a low storey with a warehouse and defense function. The castle still had to house a dormitory, a treasury, an armory and infirmary, and in the grounf floor probably a bakery or a brewery. The upper storey, probably like other castles Teutonic conventual castles, was single-space and it was surrounded by a defensive porch. The courtyard was originally surrounded by timber cloisters.
    
Contradictory information can be found about the existence of the main tower, probably the main wings were originally topped with the gothic gables. The castle also had a dansker on the river, according to recent research it could have been timber on brick pillars. The presence of an outer defensive wall is also debatable. Castle probably due to lack of space, did not have a fortified outer ward. Its role was probably taken over by the farm, located on the other bank of the Drwęca River.

Current state

    Currently, the castle is austere, deprived of decor and fairly low block, worthy to see after all. It houses a cultural center, gallery, library and museum. Opening hours and prices can be checked on the official website of the monument here.

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bibliography:
Garniec M., Garniec-Jackiewicz M.,  Zamki państwa krzyżackiego w dawnych Prusach, Olsztyn 2006.
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, L.Kajzer, S.Kołodziejski, J.Salm, Warszawa 2003.
Torbus T., Zamki konwentualne państwa krzyżackiego w Prusach, Gdańsk 2014.