Teutonic castles are fascinating and eye-catching. In the Middle Ages, they formed an excellent defence system, while today they are a material testimony to past history and a unique tourist attraction. Apart from the castles held by the Knights, the lands of the Teutonic Order were guarded by episcopal castles and chapter castles. They are all characterized by original medieval architectural form, the unique beauty of the brick composition and professional construction, integrated into the landscape of towns and villages, which still today makes a great impression, piques interest and a desire to learn about the history of these lands. Despite political and economic changes and numerous wars in the former Prussian territories which now belong to Poland, the Kaliningrad Oblast of the Russian Federation and Lithuania, the castles remain magnificent monuments of past glory and a special testament of history, reflecting the essence of the lands’ history. They have survived to our times in different states of preservation. Many of them were destroyed – of many, only ruins or fragments remain – yet each of these sites is of historical value. Those that have survived have been mostly restored from damage and devastation. They were given new functions, such as museums, libraries, archives, community centres and even hotels and restaurants. Because of this, the objects can be admired as architectural monuments and also enjoyed as backdrops for attractive programmes offered to all interested parties.
At the turn of the 18th and 19th century, a network of fortifications and field earthworks was established in East Prussia to protect the Prussian state against an attack by the Tsarist armies. The Masurian lakes constituted a key location in this scheme. Here, in support of the Boyen Fortress in Giżycko, numerous field fortifications were created, blocking an attack from the east through the Great Lakes region. An important part of this defence system was the fortress in Königsberg (today’s Kaliningrad), consisting of a series of forts forming a line 43 km in length. These forts have survived to our times in various states of preservation. The oldest coastal fortification of this area of the Baltic is the Wisłoujście Fortress in Gdańsk, dating back to the 14th century. Its task was to ensure the security of the port in Gdańsk from the direction of the Vistula River estuary. These buildings, built mainly of red brick, harken back to the style of other Gothic castles in this area. They are tourist attractions available to visitors, often offering rich programmes of outdoor events, shows and workshops.
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The publication of the map is the project’s activity no PR/1/008/2018 ‘Tourism beyond the boundaries – tourism routes of the cross-border regions of Russia and North-East Poland’.
This content is the sole responsibility of the Association of Municipalities “Polish Gothic Castles” and cannot under any circumstances be regarded as a reflection of the position of the European Union, the IS or the Joint Technical Secretariat of WIP Poland – Russia 2014-2020.