In 1794, when Friedrich Gilly accompanied his father David on an inspection of Marienburg Castle, he prepared several fine drawings of both the ruinous exterior and the fine vaulted interiors. Two years later the drawings were exhibited at the Berlin Academy with great success, and were later engraved by Friedrich Frick (Frick, 1799, 1803). Gilly considered the castle important from an antiquarian standpoint and due to its association with national history, comparing the structures with the palaces of Venice; others likened it to the Alhambra in Spain or Westminster in England. In 1803, the journal Der Freimuthige in Berlin published an outcry on its continuous destruction, written by Ferdinand Max von Schenkendorff, who considered that of all remains of Gothic architecture in Prussia, Marienburg Castle occupied pride of place (von Schenkendorff, 1803; Boockmann, 1982:137). There was an immediate reaction by a high-ranking personality, Minister Freiherr von Schrotter, who brought the matter to the Council of Ministers, and in the following year the king gave an order for the building's protection. It took more than ten years, however, before any funds were found for its repair and restoration.
In 1816 the provincial direction at Danzig was taken over by Theodor von Schön as the Ober-Präsident of West Prussia, and although he had no specific order, he took Marienburg
to his heart, becoming the principal promoter of its restoration. He insisted that the castle be treated in the same category as the royal residences in Berlin, Charlottenburg and Potsdam, in order to obtain government funding, as well as raising funds from private sources. The efforts brought results, and in 1816 Johann Conrad Costenoble, an architect from Magdeburg, was consulted but did not continue. The works started the same year in close collaboration with Schinkel who designed new stained-glass windows for the main hall of the castle amongst other things. The uniqueness and the lack of examples were one reason why restoration was not easy. In fact, Schinkel noted the temptation to indulge in fantasy (Schinkel to Hardenberg, 11 November 1819). The works were thus divided into two categories: first the well-preserved parts where it was easy to identify the form of lost elements, such as the refectory and the Ritter-Saal, and second, the more damaged parts where the original form and use had become doubtful, and where systematic research was needed to collect sufficient data for the restoration. The works suffered from lack of experience, and often in the demolition some original mediaeval parts were destroyed and rebuilt according to invented forms - as happened with the doorway in the court of the MittelSchloss.
In 1822 a great celebration was held in the castle to emphasize its national importance, and another in 1856 in honour of von Schön. The restoration aimed at a full reconstitution of the building's mediaeval character, including furniture, objects and model figures in costume. The works continued for more than a century, first under the direction of August Stüler, and finally under Conrad Steinbrecht, architect and archaeologist, who completed the restoration and reconstruction during the period from 1882 to 1922. In the Second World War the monument suffered severe damage, and has since been rebuilt and restored yet again (Frych, 1975; Boockmann, 1982).
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