Saalua Castle in Kamenskoye (Chernyakhovsk
Between Insterburg and Königsburg, on the two sides of the
Pregel River, there once stood pairs of twin strongholds.
For example, the fortresses in Wehlau and Taplaken supported
each other; the fortress in Norkitten had a strong bond with
the castle in Saalau.
The Knights of the Teutonic Order appeared
on this land in 1257. In 1352, when the Prussian lands were
divided between the Church and the Monastic Order, Saalau
and the surrounding lands were ceded to the Church. In 1355,
the Church had already built here a Chapter House, known as
the Cathedral Chancery. The building however was burnt down
several times during Lithuanian raids. So in 1376 the Church
authorities made a decision to raise a brick fortress, the
This did not deter the Lithuanians from attacking the settlement
and destroying the fort again, in 1390. In the same year,
works on constructing a new and more powerful castle began.
They were completed in just five years.
The construction of the castle was accompanied by the colonisation
of the lands along the upper course of the Pregel River. Colonists
from German countries were brought to this area, where they
mingled and assimilated with the local Prussian folk. At the
foot of the castle a small town rose, with two competing inns.
It can be hypothesised that the name 'Saalau'
derives from the Old Prussian word 'sal', which meant salt.
From the earliest times, the native people of this land excavated
salt from underground ores, dried it, packed and sent to their
southern neighbours, the Barts, either for sale or as a barter
When the Teutonic State was dissolved in 1525, Saalau was
turned into a centre for local administration. In the 16th
century the castle was ravaged by a fire, after which it was
Now the only remaining traces of the castle are some impressive
ruins. The 18th century church, located on the other side
of the road leading to the town, has had more luck. In the
Soviet times, it was used as a club and a cinema and this
has saved it from being pulled down.