In the past, Elbląg was a town whose buildings were considered more beautiful than in Gdańsk, and the local Teutonic castle, built in the 14th century, was second only to Malbork. However, the war damage made it one of the most interesting rebuilt cities in Poland, and its pride is the perfectly arranged Archaeological and Historical Museum.
Near the place where today's Elbląg is located, the Prussian settlement of Truso already existed in the 9th century, which is an important trade center. In the 13th century, the Teutonic Knights came to this area and initially established their stronghold at the mouth of the Elbląg River. After its destruction by the Prussians, they moved no further, to the area of today's Old Town. At that time, a castle was built in Podzamcze, which for years was the main center of the Teutonic state, and with time it gave way to Malbork. Unfortunately, this building was demolished during the fighting in the mid-15th century.
The Old Town in Elbląg was developing as an important trade center since the 13th century. The local port was comparable to Gdańsk, and the buildings were on par with the most famous city on the Polish coast. The golden age of Elbląg took place in the 16th and 17th centuries, when most of the Polish Baltic trade was directed here during trade wars with Gdańsk.
Unfortunately, there is not much left of this wonderful city. At the end of World War II, the city was almost completely destroyed by the advancing Red Army. The Gothic St. Nicholas and several other Gothic churches, the Holy Spirit, Corpus Christi and Saint Anthony. However, most of them are currently devoid of their original decor. Since the 1980s, the Old Town has been gradually reconstructed. Contemporary tenement houses with facades referring to Gothic and Renaissance prototypes are being built, which is an interesting and so far successful architectural experiment.
Only farm buildings have survived to this day on the site of the former Teutonic castle. They house the Archaeological and Historical Museum, the greatest attraction of Elbląg. Its exhibitions arranged in a modern way guide visitors through the history of the city, from a Prussian settlement to the destruction of World War II and the period of reconstruction. An interesting attraction of the city is also the historic Elbląg Canal, on which you can sail on cruise ships. The route includes, among others a dry slipway through which ships are hauled up to the upper level of the channel.