Top 5 Teutonic Castles in Russia built by the mighty Order

Russia does have castles too. They were built in the Middle Ages by the Teutonic Order. Before the war the land was part of Germany's East Prussia.
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This region was partitioned between Poland and the Soviet Union after the end of the WWII. A lot of red-brick churches and castles which managed to survive the battles of the Second World War saw decades of neglect. Most of them are now in ruinous state. Some will remain ruins others will be redeveloped into hotels and museums to attract tourists and tell their stories.
Remains of a Teutonic Church in Kaliningrad Region. Photo credits:
Check this list of top 5 Teutonic castles in Russia's westernmost Kaliningrad region which you can visit provided you have a Russian visa.

5. Burg Shaaken

Where: Nekrasovo (ex-Liska-Schaaken)
Remains of a Teutonic Church in Kaliningrad Region. Photo credits:
Built over the ruins of a Prussian fort in the 13th century the castle's prime goal was to defend the coastline of the Curonian Lagoon which when water froze was a great avenue of approach for the attacking Baltic peoples of Skalvians and Lithuanians. The castle was visited several times by the Russian tsar Peter the Great who was on his way to Europe and is simply a ruined wall with corner turrets now.

4. Waldau Castle

Where: Nizovye (ex-Waldau)
Waldau Castle in Kaliningrad Region. Photo credits: Waldau Castle
The 13th century Teutonic castle is now considered to be among the most preserved castles in the Kaliningrad region. Since the mid-15th century it was used as a temporary summer residence of the Order's Grand Master. Today the Sorokin family moved into the castle and conduct large-scale restoration works.
The progress is impressive and they now have a flow of tourists, TV crews and asparagus lovers – as they managed to revive the tradition of growing local asparagus which you can of course taste.
Read this interview with the owners to learn about how a family from the south of Russia fell in love with the Teutonic ruin.
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3. Burg Tapiau

Where: Gvardeysk (ex-Tapiau)
Burg Tapiau in Kaliningrad Region. Photo credits: Russia Travel
Just think how magnificent and important this 14th century castle was – in 1377 Duke Albrecht of Austria stayed there together with 5 counts, 50 knights and squires, as did King Henry IV of England, when he led a crusade against the Lithuanians as Earl of Derby in the end of the 14th century. For the last 150 years the castle was used as a… prison! But not any longer!
Burg Tapiau in Kaliningrad Region. Photo credits: Восточная Пруссия. Сквозь века.

2. Balga Castle

Where: Mamonovo (ex-Heiligenbeil)
Balga Castle ruin in Kaliningrad Region. Photo credits:
The ruins of this medieval Teutonic castle is located on the shore of the Vistula Lagoon. They stand on the hill of Balga, the site of an Old Prussian fortress called Honeda. It is the oldest Ordensburg constructed by the Teutonic Order in the region of present-day Kaliningrad.
During World War II the castle ruins saw the final battles between the German and Soviet troops. The ruins are now hard to reach but the authorities have promised to repair the road so that you could enjoy the remaining brickwork and the view of the lagoon.

1. Burg Ragnit

Where: Neman (ex-Ragnit
Burg Ragnit in Kaliningrad Region. Photo credits: Burg Ragnit
This huge and once imposing castle was built by the Teutons in the 15th century. The construction was supervised by Rhineland master builder Nikolaus Fellenstein, the one who was also responsible for the expansion of the Grand Master's Palace in Marienburg – which is now known as Malbork, an imposing and one of the most beautiful examples of the redbrick Baltic Gothic style.
The castle was totally destroyed by the blaze during the Second World War and is a ruin now. The good news is that a project has been launched to redevelop the ruins into a hotel and a museum and you can learn more about it from this interview with the project's CEO.
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