The Teutonic castle in Sztum

The Pomesanian Sztum was conquered by Teutonic Knights in 1236. From 1325 to 1326, using stone and brick, they transformed a wooden town into a defensive stronghold which in 1333 became the residence of the Order’s Commanders. The castle’s structure differed from the majority of 14th-Century Teutonic seats, as it was erected in an irregular rectangle, rather than the usual square. Its shape resembled an island on which Sztum lay in the Middle Ages. The castle hill was surrounded by a moat and a wall incorporating a gate tower and two donjons.
In 1377, the castle received Albrecht III of Habsburg, an Austrian Duke who supported the Teutonic Order in its invasion of Samogitia. To express his gratitude, the Duke presented the Sztum Command with his family colours, i.e. a white strip on a red field. These symbols still serve Sztum, whose flag is identical to that of Austria. The funds left by the Duke facilitated the construction of a grand castle tower, from that time on called the Tower of Albrecht.
The seat of the Teutonic Commanders did not only fulfill a military role. After its reconstruction carried out in the 15th Century, the castle gained recognition as a summer residence of the Grand Master. The fortress featured all possible amenities, the representative rooms received stoves and bathrooms washing tubs, and water from the well at the courtyard was even claimed to possess therapeutic properties.
It was not until the end of the Thirteen Years’ War that the Teutonic Order lost control over Sztum Castle. During the 17th-Century conflicts with Swedes, their King, Gustav Adolph, sought shelter there, although it did not guard the castle against damage. The Swedish troops left the stronghold in ruins, plundering all valuables, stove tiles included. Nowadays, the best-preserved parts of the complex are its southern wing, the walls with one donjon, and the gate tower. The Brotherhood of the Sztum Land Knighthood, active within its walls, organises knight’s tournaments and historical shows, thereby recalling the fortress’ splendour from years gone by.

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