Thankfully not affected by mass tourism, even during the peak season, the enchanting town of Ryn stands as an oasis of peace and rest in the Land of the Great Masurian Lakes. The atmosphere here is very different from that of most other places in the region – more refined and quieter. Tourists head to Ryn mainly to visit the castle, originally built in the 14th century and later reconstructed in English Neo-Gothic style.
The majestic Teutonic castle in Ryn, formerly ‘Rhein’, can be seen from far away, long before arriving in the town. It houses the Regional Museum and boasts precious and well known collections that total more than 700 artefacts relating to ethnography, geology, archaeology, art and militaria. A major event of the summer of 2006 was the opening of a four-star luxury hotel in the castle, called Hotel Zamek Ryn. It aims to fulfil even the most refined demands of its guests. An unusual attraction for visitors is an event known as the “Night Festivities”, accurately and imaginatively recreating the feel of the middle ages.
Apart from the castle, which is obviously the main draw, there are other historic monuments for you to see: a 19th century Evangelical chapel, a grain warehouse from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, a watermill, thirty tenement houses from the 19th century (you can find them on Swierczewskiego and Kosciuszki streets) as well as a Dutch windmill built in 1873. This latter building can be found on a hill just outside the town, by the main road between Gizycko and Mragowo. At present, the windmill is a private property and regrettably is not open to the public. Standing on the hill, you can enjoy an extensive view of Ryn and Lake Rynskie, lying beneath you.
Located in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodship, Ryn is a town of about 3,000 inhabitants. It is situated in the very heart of the Great Mazurian Lakes district between two lakes, the Olow and the Rynskie. It is also only a short distance to four larger towns, being 22 km from Ketrzyn, 21 km from Gizycko, 20 km from Mragowo and 14 km from Mikolajki. Indeed, Ryn is close to any place in the area that you might care to visit.
The region hosts the most severe climatic conditions in the lowland part of Poland. Summers are short and mild, while winters are long and cold. Regardless of the time of the year, the location is invariably picturesque due to the thick forests, the ranges of hills and the diversified coastline of the Masurian lakes.
The history of Ryn goes back to 1377, when the Teutonic Knights erected a fortress on the former site of a Prussian fortification. The Teutonic Knight’s fortress had a square layout with towers on the corners and was supposed to defend the knights against the Lithuanians. Soon a settlement appeared close to the edifice, the first mention of which can be found in documents from 1405.
The position of Komtur Rhein was established in 1393 and lasted until 1468. One of the well-known Komturs of Rhein, Rudolf von Tippelskirch, is well known for his role in the colonisation of East Prussia.
Following the secularisation of the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights as Ducal Prussia in 1525, an “Amtshauptmann” office was set up in Rhein and which functioned up to 1775. In the period of Tatar invasions against East Prussia, the village was burned down on 7 February 1657, and numerous settlers were taken captive.
Between 1709 and 1711 the plague swept through Rhein. Along with the hardship this brought, it also took many years before Frederick William I of Prussia gave Rhein a town charter. This decision, made in 1723, was related to the fact that the town served as an administrative hub for a large rural region. This change in Rhein’s status provided a much-needed stimulus for the town’s further development.
At the end of the 18th century, many troops were stationed in Rhein during the course of the Napoleonic Wars. Later, in 1853, the medieval castle was transformed into a prison, and then in 1856 it was reconstructed in its current English Neo-Gothic shape, after being damaged on a number of occasions.
The following years were a time of stagnation. Rhein only began to develop again in 1902 when the railway reached it, even if it was simply a spur link of a narrow gauge light railway.
In the years 1818-1945 Rhein belonged to the “Landkreis Lötzen”, and then since 1945 onwards the town has been known as Ryn.