15 May 2017

Radzyń Chełmiński Castle

As the name says, this castle is located in Radzyń Chełmiński in Poland. The castle is built in gothis style in a square formation. It's the seat of the Teutonic Knights' Commandry, located close to the Castle Lake (Polish: Jezioro Zamkowe) to the north of the town of Radzyń Chełmiński. Currently the castle is partially in a ruin.
The castle is one of the oldest castles built by the Teutonic Knights, built in the thirteenth century. In 1446 the castle went into Polish control, in 1628 during wars with the Swedes the castle was partially devastated, slowly turning into a ruin. Currently you are still able to see the tower - damaged by artillery fire. In 1780 Prussian authorities ordered to deconstruct whatever is let of the castle. Bricks from the three wings of the castle were used to build houses for the nearby community. The castle's deconstruction was stopped towards the end of the nineteenth century. Konrad Steinbrecht, mid while planned the castle's reconstruction. The castle's ruins were open for visitations at the end of the twentieth century.

To this day, the southern wing with the chapel (without the vault) has been partially preserved, the facade is almost full height, two corner turrets, an adjacent part of the eastern wing, parts of the walls of the remaining wings and basements. The lower parts of the southern and western walls have survived almost entirely from the outer bailey. The castle ruins are open to the public. It's possible to enter both corner towers, from which there is a wide view of the countryside. The basements have exhibitions including models of medieval buildings and torture tools.

The castle consisted of a high castle founded on a square plan with a side of 49.4 x 49.6 m, a courtyard with a two-story cloister, a large free-standing octagonal tower (bergfried) in the northwest corner, and smaller quadrilateral towers in all corners. The southern wing was accented by decorative gables. It also had an entrance gate, a refectory with a star-shaped vault and a church. The chapter house and dormitory were in the east wing. To the south of the castle was a trapezoidal outer ward surrounded by a perimeter wall. Perhaps east of the high castle was the second ward.

In 1234, on the initiative of Hermann von Balek, a makeshift wood fortification was erected here. It was defended during the first Prussian uprising in the years 1242-1249. In the years 1270-1285, the wooden structure was replaced by another one, which was made of brick. During construction, the unfinished second stronghold was captured by the Prussians in 1278. From this phase of the building, few relics have remained to this day in the form of scab walls, basements under the chapel and the outer ward.
In the years 1310-1330 a castle was built in the now-known four-sided form with a corner tower Bergfried. It was probably designed by the same architect who had previously built the castle in Gniew and the presbytarian church of St. Jakub in Toruń. At that time it was one of the strongest castles in the southern borders of Prussia. From 1251, it was the seat of the commandry. After the battle of Grunwald, the castle was captured by the Polish army returning from Malbork on September 21, 1410. However, after the first peace of Toruń in 1411, the castle returned to the Teutonic Knights. After the Thirteen Years' War, it was within the borders of Royal Prussia, being from 1454 the seat of Polish starosts. During the Polish-Swedish war in 1628, it was severely damaged during the siege by the Swedes, and then abandoned.

After the First Partition of Poland in 1772, it was gradually dismantled by the Prussian authorities. Many houses in Radzyń were built from the acquired building material. In 1837, as a result of protests, demolition was stopped, and two years later the first security works began. The ruins were subjected to further conservation works during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In 1989, the foregate perimeter wall was discovered.

Ludwika Waryńskiego, 87-220 Radzyń Chełmiński, Poland

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