n the early Middle Ages, these lands belonged to the Prussian Sasin tribe, and there was a wooden Prussian settlement on the site of today's town of Dąbrówno. In the second half of the 13th century this settlement was captured by Teutonic Knights, who erected a wood-earth watchtower here known as Ilienburg. Around 1314-26, on the initiative of the commander of Dzierzgoń, Luther von Braunschweig (d. 1335), it was replaced by a brick castle, which from then on served as the seat of a Teutonic mayor. The mayor of Dąbrówno initially submitted to the commander of Dzierzgoń, and after 1341 - to the commander of Ostróda.
PLAN OF MEDIEVAL TOWN BY J. M. GIESE:
1. THE OLD CASTLE, 2. THE NEW CASTLE
hanks to its favorable location on the trade route leading from Gdańsk and Elblag to Mazovia, Gilgenburg (the former name of Dąbrówno) developed dynamically at the dawn of the 15th century. In particular, trade and milling flourished here. Soon, however, came events that caused the town to decline. The prelude to the coming disaster became a big fire of 1405. Five years later, a huge Polish-Lithuanian army (heading to Malbork) approached the gates of Dąbrówno, and some of its troops attacked the town and burned it. The Poles and Lithuanians then slaughtered most of its inhabitants, and many of them were burned alive.
EVANGELICAL-METHODIST CHURCH IN DĄBRÓWNO
IT WAS HERE THAT INHABITANTS OF DĄBRÓWNO WERE BURNED ALIVE IN 1410
e do not know whether the royal army destroyed the Teutonic castle and what its subsequent history was like. Presumably, however, it was abandoned as late as the 15th century, and its functions were taken over by a new stronghold, erected in the northern part of the town. After the secularization of the Teutonic state (1525), Dąbrówno became part of the Duchy of Prussia, and the castle has since served as a seat of the prefect. Otto von Trenken (1525-26) was the first prefect of Dąbrówno, followed by Hans von Gablenz (1526-40), then Friedrich von Oelsnitz and his son Quirin (1540-72). One of the latter two erected a new one-story brick building based on older, post-Teutonic walls.
CASTLE IN 1811 IN AN ENGRAVING BY L. VON OELSNITZ
n 1572, Felix Finck von Finckenstein (d. 1576) acquired from Quirin von Oelsnitz (d. 1600) the right to income generated from the town. From then until 1831 Dąbrówno, as well as Iława, Szymbark, and the lands belonging to them formed a huge estate of the von Finckenstein, covering an area of more than 14,000 hectares. Until the beginning of the 18th century, their family seat was the castle in Dąbrówno. In 1693-96
Ernst Finck von Finckenstein (known as Rich Shepherd, d. 1717) rebuilt it in Baroque style and expanded it by adding two new wings.
PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE CASTLE FROM THE INTERWAR PERIOD
ver time, the economic power of the von Finckensteins weakened, and financial problems forced them to sell Dąbrówno estate. In 1831, the castle-palace passed into the hands of the von Megenborg family (owners until 1880), and then the Strauss family (until 1945). The last rebuilding and modernization of the interior took place here in the late 1920s and early 1930s. In 1945, Soviet artillerymen shelled the castle, turning it into a ruin. Its remains were demolished in 1968.
he castle (the new one) was built on a square plan with sides of 25x25 meters. In the Middle Ages it had a single-winged layout, with a dwelling house measuring about 14x26 meters in plan. Its fortifications consisted of a defensive wall and a gate tower, and perhaps a tower located in the northeast corner. The castle’s walls were incorporated into the town's fortification system. In the 17th century, the castle was transformed into a mansion, with decorative plasterwork covering the facades. Next to it, a stylish park was established
MEDIEVAL CASTLE (ON THE LEFT) AND TOWN FORTIFICATIONS AS VISUALIZED BY J. M. GIESE (1826)
1ST FLOOR PLAN OF THE CASTLE FROM THE TURN OF THE XIXTH AND XXTH CENTURIES
ELEVATION OF THE NORTH WING, SKETCH FROM THE 1920S
o above-ground traces of the older castle have survived. A mound was raised in its place, on which a monument to those who died in World War I was erected in the 1920s. Not much more has survived from the 15th-century castle. Only modest fragments of the exterior walls remain on the ground, as well as partially buried cellars.
Free access to the relics
MONUMENT TO THOSE WHO DIED DURING WORLD WAR I, UNDERNEATH IT THERE ARE RELICS OF THE OLDER CASTLE
REMAINS OF THE VON FINCKENSTEINS' CASTLE
ąbrówno is located 34 km south of Ostróda, by road 542 leading towards Działdowo. The town has no railway station. Remains of Teutonic castle are located on Zamkowa Street, in the northern part of the town, near the lake Dąbrowa Wielka.
We can park our car right next to it.
1. M. Garniec, M. Jackiewicz-Garniec: Zamki państwa krzyżackiego w dawnych Prusach, studio Arta 2009
2. L. Kajzer, J. Salm, S. Kołodziejski: Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Arkady 2001
3. R. Sypek: Zamki i obiekty warowne państwa krzyżackiego, Agencja Wydawnicza CB 2000
4. A. Wagner: Murowane budowle obronne w Polsce X-XVIIw., Bellona 2019
5. nn: Kronika konfliktu Władysława króla polskiego z Krzyżakami w roku pańskim 1410, MWiM 1987
AT ZAMKOWA STREET, RIGHT NEXT TO THE RUINS
Castles nearby: Działdowo - a Teutonic castle from the 14th century, 25 km
Lubawa - a ruined bishops' castle from the 14th century, 25 km Olsztynek - a Teutonic castle from the 14th century, rebuilt, 28 km Nidzica - a Teutonic castle from the 14th/15th centuries, 33 km Ostróda - a Teutonic castle from the 14th century, 34 km
Kurzętnik - a ruined bishops' castle from the 14th century, 40 km Szymbark - ruins of a castle of the Pomezania Chapter from the 14th century, 52 km Olsztyn - a castle of the Warmia Chapter from the 14th century, 56 km
Even though Dąbrówno was severely damaged during World War II, some buildings have been preserved here, proving the centuries-old history of the place. Quite interesting are the surviving fragments of town defensive walls and the so-called Tower of Bells, a town tower converted to a bell tower in the 17th century. Also dating from the Teutonic times is the Methodist Church, formerly Catholic, built in 1325-50 (now Rowowa Street). It was here, according to a medieval chronicler, that the townspeople looked for a shelter during the invasion of the Polish army in July 1410. Much younger than the Methodist temple is the 19th-century St. John of Nepomuk Church, built in neo-Gothic style of fieldstone and brick (Ostródzka Street). Its peer was a synagogue (Grunwaldzka Street), where fragments of wall paintings and an original floor have survived to the present day. The intriguing mural on its exterior facades is still clearly visible: I miss you Jew / Ich vermisse dich Jude.
TOWN DEFENSIVE WALLS
ST. JOHN OF NEPOMUK CHURCH
At a distance of 10 km northeast of Dąbrówno are the Grunwald Fields. This is the undulating area where, on July 15, 1410, a great battle was fought between the Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian-Tartar armies and an army composed of the Teutonic Knights and their allies from Silesia, Pomerania and Western Europe. It was one of the largest knightly battles in the entire Middle Ages. The focal point here is a memorial hill, at the top of which the Grunwald Victory Monument was erected on the 550th anniversary of the battle, having the form of a granite obelisk and 30-meter-high masts symbolizing the Polish and Lithuanian-Russian banners. An amphitheater has been built next to the monument, in front of which is a mock-up depicting a deployment of the armies just before the battle.
Inside the mound is the Battle of Grunwald Museum, which features an exhibition titled The Great War against the Teutonic Order 1409-1411, including maps, plans, drawings, as well as a large number of medieval weapons and armaments. Here we can see artifacts belonging to the knights who fought in the battle: bolt and arrowheads, sword fragments, spurs, and remnants of the original armored gauntlet. Next to the exhibitions there is a cinema room, where films on the subject of the Polish-Teutonic conflicts are screened. A new museum pavilion is scheduled to open in 2022.
About 500 meters from the monument hill are ruins of a chapel erected by the Teutonic Order as a tribute to the knights who fell in battle. At least twenty men were buried here, whose bodies had evidence of cuts and stab wounds; in addition, archaeologists found many other mass graves nearby. In the past, the chapel was used to store the miracle-famous image of the Mother of God, attracting numerous pilgrimages. This did not please the Prussian authorities, who ordered a demolition of this field temple in the early 18th century. Walking from the monument hill towards the chapel, it is worth noting a small boulder by the roadside. This is because it indicates the hypothetical place of death of Ulrich von Jungingen, Grand Master of Teutonic Order and Commander-in-Chief of Teutonic forces at the Battle of Grunwald.