Fot. Lesnydzban, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Olsztynek Castle – Teutonic fortress turned into a school

The castle in Olsztynek is an example of neo-Gothic reconstruction referring to the original Gothic castle erected by the Teutonic Order around the middle of the 14th century. Today, the brick walls still house a school.

The castle in Olsztynek was built between 1349 and 1366 on a small hill bordering the north-western edge of the town. It was founded on a quadrangular plan and had a tower and perimeter walls. The castle had three (or four) wings, as is also evident from a 17th-century copperplate. There were vaulted cellars under the castle buildings. The main wing was located to the north, facing the town.

The year 1684, the castle and part of the city skyline with the city walls in Olsztynek. A fragment of Hartknoch’s drawing. Photo: Mariusz Brzeziński/

Zamek w Olsztynku

In 1410, the castle complex along with the town was occupied by Władysław Jagiełło’s army, and four years later it was destroyed during the Hunger War, but was quickly rebuilt. After the secularisation of the Teutonic Order, the castle premises were used as the seat of the starost’s office and later served as an arsenal. In the second half of the 18th century, it became the seat of the domain officials. At the end of that century, the castle was devastated, and in 1793 a large part of its mass was demolished, leaving only the basement of the northern wing to be used as officials’ flats.

The teachers’ seminar in the former castle at the beginning of the 20th century and the school today. Photos: Mariusz Brzeziński/ and Jerzy Guzdek/

The castle buildings before the war and the same place today. Photo: Polon National Library and Jerzy Guzdek/

Between 1847 and 1849, the former castle grounds were rebuilt and converted into a gymnasium, from which, among others, the later Nobel Prize-winning bacteriologist Emil von Behring (1854-1917) graduated. The neo-Gothic reconstruction largely obliterated the medieval character of the fortress, only roughly recreating its original form. After 1945, the school buildings were renovated and reused for educational purposes. Currently, the castle in Olsztynek is the seat of the Krzysztof Celestyna Mrongowiusz School Complex.


Read also: Architecture in Poland | Monument | History | Travel | Brick | Interesting facts

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