16 May 2017

Świecie Castle

Świecie Castle is a Teutonic Castle built in 1335-1350. The partial ruin is kept in full-shape from the bank of the river Vistula and Wda - together with a circular tower topped with merlons. The castle is part of a complex built by the Teutonic Knights in the Gothic architectural style. 
The region of the castle in 2008 was protected as a Natura 2000 SOO called Castle Świecie PLH040025 with an area of ​​17.5 ha. The main purpose of protection is the western mop bat, which adapted the castle as a place of winter hibernation. Currently the castle houses a museum, with the tower and castle renovated.
In June and August 2019, the castle was robbed of bricks by unknown perpetrators, as a result of which the 14th-century defensive wall was devastated.

The castle was built on a partly artificial embankment for protection against floods, on a square plan with a side of about 51 m. The entrance gate was located in the western curtain, with a bridge over the moat, which led to the outer ward. The castle consisted of two wings perpendicular to each other. The main, north-west, about 13 m wide, stood parallel to the Wda stream. It had a basement and had three floors. It contained a chapel and a chapter house or refectory. The courtyard measuring 26 x 26 m was surrounded by cloisters. The castle was surrounded by a perimeter wall with four cylindrical towers in the corners, the main one with a diameter of 10 m and a height of 34 m, terminated with a battlement, currently inclined from the vertical by 106 cm (the highest leaning tower in Poland made available to tourists). The castle was of strategic importance because it controlled traffic on the Vistula.

The castle was built by the Teutonic Order after 1335 on the initiative of Günter von Hohenstein. It was created in a new place, not connected with the stronghold of Prince Świętopełk II, which was probably located in the outer ward before. The castle is surrounded by a defensive wall and a moat. It was a two-part complex, consisting of a convent house surrounded by a scab and an outer bailey. From the west, access to the castle was defended by a fortified city. It was the only water castle in the Teutonic state. The foundations indicate that it was planned to build a four-wing castle, but only two wings were built. A characteristic feature of the castle in Świecie were four cylindrical towers in its corners. It was the seat of commanders in 1410. During the Thirteen Years' War, temporarily in Polish hands. In the years 1461–1502 it was owned by the city council of Toruń. In the years 1508–1772 it functioned as the seat of Polish royal starostes. In the second half of the 16th century, it was rebuilt in the Renaissance style by the Chełmno castellan Jerzy Konopacki.

Destroyed during the Swedish wars in the 17th century (1664), it was not rebuilt. Later on, it was demolished partly by Prussian authorities after 1772. From 1859, work began to protect the ruin, and a partial reconstruction of the castle took place after World War II. From 1875 until the First World War, the castle was under the administration of the building authorities. At that time, in 1877-1878, preliminary protective works were carried out. At the end of the 19th century, the restorer of the West Prussian province, Johann Heine, proposed a conservation of the castle ruins with the Cohausen system, as a result of which the crowns of the walls were covered with concrete caps. At the beginning of the 20th century, Konrad Steinbrecht took an inventory of the castle ruins. It shows that the northern wing, which survived up to 2/3 of its height, had a partially preserved corner tower north-east and a completely preserved (renovated) massive north-west tower. Basement rooms have also survived: the eastern wing and partly - southern and western. In 1898, the first rally of the 4th district of the Vistula Gymnastic Society "Sokol" took place in the castle. From that time, until the First World War, this society regularly exercised in the castle area. In later years a sports field was built, where in 1912 sports competitions took place.

During the interwar period, the castle ruins were under the management of the Waterways Department, taken over by the German Water Inspection as state property. From the preserved walls, only the tower was in a good technical condition and served the Waterways Department, as in the times of the Prussian partition, to observe the Vistula and signal the approaching danger of floods. The area around the ruins was not fenced at that time and the remaining walls were still deteriorating, devastated by the surrounding population. Although the entrances were walled up, even the headquarters and the depot of the thief was found in the preserved rooms of the tower underground.

Zamkowa 1, 86-100 Świecie, Poland

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