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History of Tykocin Castle

History of the place, we would like to invite you to, begins more than a half thousand years ago. During those five hundred years, a lot have happened here. The castle was visited by kings and guests from distant countries, witnessed many wars as well – those big and civil ones. It witnessed disputes between rich families and great betrayal. Has twice been destroyed and each time arose from ruins. It has its moments in the spotlight in the history of Republic of Poland. But let’s start from the beginning.

The first historical owners of the Narew island, where the castle stands today, was an extremely rich family of Lithuanian magnates – the Gasztołd family. They erected here a wooden fortress that fell victim to envy of the nearby neighbours – the Radziwiłł family – and was burnt to the ground few decades later. However, the Gasztołd family soon lost much more – the family died out in 1542 and its fortune fell to the rulers of Poland and Lithuania. At precisely this time the royal history of this place begins – with the figure of famous Barbara Radziwiłł in the background.

When the young Sigismund Augustus received the inheritance from the Gasztołd family, he decided to build a large brick castle on the ruins of their stronghold in Tykocin. Thanks to surrounding water and marshes of Narew it was an excellent defence system. It was important enough to create the greatest arsenal of the Republic at the end of the 16th century there and to invest in its development and extension over the following half century. Would the successive kings invest here so much of their precious money, if the place were irrelevant to them.

As it happens, the rulers visited the castle in Tykocin with pleasure. Sigismund Augustus, Stephen Bathory, two of the Vasa family – Sigismund III and Władysław IV, Augustus II the Strong and even the famous Russian Tsar Peter the Great.

In addition to hosting the rulers in their lifetimes and even after death – like the Wawel Castle itself – the fortress of Tykocin witnessed another adventure, finished with an important event. In November 1705 during the great northern war Augustus II the Strong reached the castle after a very dangerous journey, he was welcomed by Peter the Great – what an extraordinary coincidence that the Tsar welcomed the King of Poland in a Polish castle. However, that is not the end – it was then, it was the Tykocin Castle, where Augustus II the Strong awarded the Order of the White Eagle for the first time – the oldest and the highest Polish award until this day/

You may see that the wars didn’t bypass the Castle – from the Swedish Deluge, the War of the Polish Succession to the January Uprising. In the course of history, there were four battles of Tykocin fought. Interestingly – two of them ended in the destruction of the Castle. Eventually pulled down from 1734, gradually falling into ruins and oblivion, finished almost in the dustbin of history. Luckily, thanks to the long and arduous scientific research and reconstructive works launched at the turn of 20th and 21st century, it is possible again to admire the western and southern part of the Castle in Tykocin: vaults, great Glass Hall and prison tower.