Sztum is a town situated in the central
part of Powi¶le, a region along the banks of the lower Vistula
river. In the Middle Ages this settlement was a seat of the
rulers who governed the Aliem lands, which formed part of
old Prussian Pomezania. A written mention of a local ruler
of old Prussian descent, Stumo, dates back to the second half
of the 13th century.
In 1236 the fort was captured by the Teutonic Knights. Until
the end of the Thirteen Years' War (1453-1466) Sztum Castle
was a seat of the local Teutonic Order official. The earlier
earth and timber fortifications were replaced in the early
14th century by a stone and brick stronghold. Perfectly situated
and well fortified, the castle in Sztum served as a military
base for crusaders staging wars against pagan Lithuania. In
1377 Archduke Albrecht Habsburg stayed at the castle, leaving
his family colour as a gift of gratitude to the Sztum administrative
district. He also commissioned to build a monumental castle
tower, since then known as the Albrecht Tower.
During the Great War between the Teutonic Order and the Kingdom
of Poland and Duchy of Lithuania (1409-1411), Sztum was occupied
by the Polish army marching from Grunwald (Tannenberg) towards
Malbork. After the unsuccessful siege of the capital of the
Teutonic state, the Polish corps which stationed at Sztum
Castle for three weeks defended the fortress against attacks
staged by Teutonic Knights. Eventually, they obeyed the order
of the Polish king, Władysław Jagiełło and surrendered the
Since 1416, following some extension, the castle became a
summer residence of the Grand Master of the Order. In the
same year, a settlement located on a nearby river islet was
granted a town's charter by the Order's Grand Master, Michael
Kuchmaister von Stemberg.
During the Thirteen Years' War, the Polish troops unsuccessfully
besieged the castle for six weeks. It was not until the 6th
of January 1468 that the Teutonic Knights left the castle.
On the same day, ¦cibor Bażyński, whose family would later
lease the castle and the town until 1503, was appointed head
of the Sztum district. Among his successors in the office
was the bishop Lucas Watzenrode, Nicolas Copernicus's uncle,
the family of the Cems, well remembered in the history of
Pomerania (1530-1636) and the family of Bielińskis, who governed
the land from 1724 to 1772.
During the Swedish wars in the 17th century, the castle and
the town of Sztum were badly damaged due to military actions
and frequent marches of troops. After the battle of Trzcian,
lost by the Swedes, their monarch Gustav Adolf found a refuge
in Sztum Castle. On the 12th September 1635 a truce between
Poland and Sweden was signed in Sztumska Wie¶, a village near
Sztum. Today, the event is reminded by a memorial plaque placed
at that site. During the Swedish Deluge (1655-1660) the town
fell into poverty, which was compounded by a great fire of
1683, when even the town hall burnt down. The Mayor of Sztum,
Peter Mogge, offered one of his surviving townhouses to be
used by the town council and the Lutheran congregation (which
had previously held their religious services at the town hall).
During the partitions of Poland, Sztum became the capital
city of an administrative district within West Prussia (Westpreusse).
In the early 19th century Napoleonic troops stationed in Sztum,
and when the Polish surge against the Russian Empire known
as the November Uprising was crushed, a large group of Poles
were interned here. After World War One, the future statehood
of Powi¶le was decided by a general plebiscite, as a result
of which the region was incorporated into Germany. On the
22nd of January 1945 Sztum was seized without any combat by
the Soviet Army. In the first days of February about 35% of
the town was destroyed.
At present, the south wing of the castle, renovated with an
aid of the Foundation for the Polish-German Cooperation, houses
the International Centre of Youth Exchange, which belongs
to the Sztum Centre of Culture, the castle's administrator.
There are plans to create a hotel with 95 beds and a convention
centre on the remaining part of the Castle Hill.
The region of Sztum is rich in manors and country houses,
such as the palace and park in Waplewo Wielkie, which used
to be owned by the Sierakowski family and today is converted
into a hotel, the manor in Barlewice (a hotel and an art gallery)
or the manor in Zajezierze. Other tourist attractions include
the fork of the Vistula and the Nogat rivers with a 19th century
system of locks in Biała Góra.
The Sztum Centre of Culture
ul. Galla Anonima 16, 82 - 400, Poland
tel. 055 640 63 45, e-mail: email@example.com