History of Elbląg

Elbląg is one of Poland’s most picturesque places. Learn more about its history.

Stare Miasto w Elblągu 1 of 2
Ryszard Siwiec

Elbląg is a very old city. Its history dates back to 1237, when Knights of the Teutonic Order erected their stronghold on the banks of the river Elbląg. The castle served as the headquarters of the Teutonic Order Masters.

Elbląg joined the Hansa and became an affluent city center trading, inter alia, with Germany and the Netherlands. Following the defeat of the Teutons in Grunwald and conclusion of the Second Peace of Thorn in 1466, the city joined the Polish territories. It became an important port, but its growth was later hindered by the Swedish Deluge.

The town was incorporated into Prussia after the first partition of Poland in 1772. Its role was weakened even further, but it started to pick up in strength once again as early as in the 19th century, when Elbląg became a significant industrial center. New plants were built, including, inter alia, a shipyard, a brewery, a cigar factory, as well as locomotive and car factories. The Channel of Elbląg was commissioned as well.

After World War II the town returned under the Polish rule. The war damage inflicted upon Elbląg was considerable, with particularly severe losses suffered by the Old Town district. Native Elbląg inhabitants accounted only for an insignificant number of all city dwellers.

At present, Elbląg has 124,000 inhabitants. It is a vibrant city with an attractive tourist base. It serves as an academic and cultural center. Among its numerous historic monuments, one can name the Market Gate of 1309, the St. Nicholas Cathedral and the August Abbeg Square.

See also