Ryn is a small town in Mazury, beautifully
situated on an isthmus between two lakes: Ołów, a closed water
reservoir protected as a quiet zone, and Ryńskie Lake, which
is connected to the complex of the Great Masurian Lakes. Above
the town towers a 14th century Teutonic castle. It was raised
on a hill, on a site most probably occupied earlier by a Galindian
(old Prussian) fort. The legend says that the castle and Ołów
Lake, which acts as a natural moat for the stronghold, reminded
Teutonic Knights of the Rhein river and the castles which
stood on its banks, which possibly explains the name of this
Masurian town - Ryn.
In 1393-1525 the castle was a seat for the local district
of commandery (Komturei), and one of the first commanders
appointed to administer the castle and the district was Konrad
Wallendrod, a future Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, and
a hero of Adam Mickiewicz's poem Konrad Wallenrod. Apart from
the military function (the fort was an important base for
wars staged against Lithuanians), the castle also served as
an administrative and economic centre, providing the Order
with fish, honey and wild game.
Despite its strategic location, thick walls and massive construction,
the castle surrendered to the siege held by the Prussian Association
in the mid-15th century. Any surviving knight, which was caught
escaping from the castle was mercilessly drowned in one of
the two lakes or in nearby swamps. Less than a year later
the castle returned to the Teutonic Knights, having been recaptured
by mercenary troops.
As the castle grew in stature, so did the settlement outside
its walls. It later gave rise to a town, first by receiving
a right to hold regular markets, which largely aided its growth.
In the 16th century Ryn became a centre of administration
and settlement action for the nearby lands. When the Order
of Teutonic Knights had been dissolved, the town was designated
an administrative capital for one of the districts in Ducal
Unfortunately, a raid of Tatars in the mid-18th century dispelled
dreams of further development. The attackers took some of
the town's inhabitants as prisoners and slaughtered the others,
plundering and burning the houses. The castle was the only
surviving building in the whole town. Half a century later
an outbreak of bubonic plague caused such great loss of human
lives that many of the villages around Ryn were completely
depopulated. Those who were not struck by the disease searched
for hiding in the forests.
In 1723 Ryn was granted a town's charter. This move was to
help the town's reconstruction and stimulate its growth. New
settlers arriving in Ryn were offered many privileges - they
were given land to build new houses, they could lumber wood
for the construction of a house also free of charge and they
were refunded one third of the costs of the construction works.
In the second half of the 18th century the castle was left
empty and offered for sale. From the end of the 18th century
to the mid-19th century it changed owners several times until
finally it was turned into a prison for women. During World
War Two the castle was used to detain Russian and Polish POW's
as well as German prisoners.
In July 2006 a four-star luxury hotel was opened in the castle,
called the Ryn Hotel. The hotel can satisfy expectations of
the most demanding guests. There are nearly 300 beds in 140
rooms, including 5 luxury royal suites and 20 rooms offering
higher standard of service. To uphold the historical traditions
of the Teutonic castle, the hotel has been divided into four
sections: the Monastic, the Knights', the Hunters' and the
Prison. The interior design draws on the architecture of the
castle, exposing some authentic remnants of frescoes, polychrome
walls and ceilings, Gothic door and window frames and vaults.
The castle restaurant, also featuring a Gothic style of design,
can serve 300 guests at a time. The menu contains dishes typical
of the old Polish kitchen, including the cuisine of nobility,
and European meals.
In addition, the Ryn Hotel has a modern and professionally
equipped Convention Centre, which consists of 6 conference
rooms (with the largest Convention Hall holding 500 seats,
located under the castle's inner court) and the Business Centre.
The Ryn Hotel
The Masurian Convention and Recreational Centre
pl. Wolności 1, 11-520 Ryn, Poland
tel./fax 087 421 80 08