The estate of Golub Teutonic Knights were bought from the Wiesław, Bishop of Włocławek in 1293 and soon after their arrival they erected the first wood and earth fortifications. According to the account of the chronicler Petr from Dusburg, in 1296 Lithuanians were to destroy villages in the area of “castrum Golubam”, probably also the first Teutonic watchtower was than burned. The beginnings of a brick castle in Golub are related with the years 1300–1311. At that time, the perimeter walls and two wings of the upper ward: south and west, and next north and east were erected, on the initiative of the Prussian Land Master Konrad Sack. Already in 1304, the seat of the Teutonic pfleger was established in Golub, and two years later a commandry was created.
The next expansion took place after 1320. The castle was already so strong, that it resisted attempts by Władysław I the Elbow-high to conquer. In spite of this, subsequent works were carried out from the mid to the end of the fourteenth century, fortifying the outer ward and erecting towers adapted to the use of firearms. It was not until 1410 that the castle was occupied by Polish knights and handed over by king Władysław Jagiełło in command to the Niemiesta from Szczytnik knight. Soon, however, it was recaptured by forces of Livonian Brothers of the Sword, assisting the Teutonic Knights. Under the castle there was a battle in which the army of the starost of Bydgoszcz, Dobiesław Puchała, beat the majority of Livonian troops. After signing the First Peace of Toruń in 1411, the castle returned to the Teutonic Knights.
The castle was severely damaged in 1422 during the Golub War. As a result of shelling from fourteen cannons started on August 20, the Polish army captured the town, and then after a four-day shelling, on August 26 they stormed and also captured the castle. During the fighting, the commander and a dozen or so Teutonic Knights died, and the fortifications suffered greatly. After the end of the war and the recovery of Golub by Teutonic Order, the castle was rebuilt in the years 1433-1449.
After the outbreak of the Thirteen Years War in 1454, the castle was captured by the forces of the Prussian Union acting in consent with Poland. The Polish king leased it to Grot from Ostrów, but soon after it was garrisoned by Czech mercenary troops. In 1460 it was besieged by mercenary Teutonic troops, interestingly also by the Czechs, under the command of Bernard Szumborski. The garrison managed to resist attacks over the next two years despite the fall of the town. It was not until 1462 that Oldřich Červonka with a group of men serving the Polish king was admitted by the townspeople behind the walls and captured the town from the hands of the Teutonic Knights. After the end of the war, based on the Second Peace of Toruń in 1466, Golub was incorporated into the Kingdom of Poland for the seat of the starost.
The stronghold was rebuilt in 1616-1623 at the request of the sister of king Zygmunt III Waza, the princess Anna Wazówna, who took over the Golub starosty. Then were added late-renaissance attics, a building on the outer baily, the shape of windows was changed and turrets in the corners were added. Repeatedly destroyed, among others, during the Swedish wars or by natural factors, however, it was always rebuilt and refurbished.
The castle was situated on a hill, on the northern side of the strongly meandering Drwęca River, in the bend of which, south-east of the castle, a fortified town was founded. In the first stage of construction (1305-1340), a quadrangle of walls was built on a rectangular plan with dimensions of 39×42 meters and four wings surrounding the courtyard. It was also planned to build the main tower in the north-west corner, but due to the change in construction plans it was never completed and work was stopped after the basement and the ground floor were erected (this is indicated by unused toothing for the upper floors of tower and the lack of a break in the porch (wall-walk), which ran in the crown of the defensive wall). On the north side, a dansker was built, protruding into the curtain of the wall and accessible by a timber porch.
The main castle range was on the south side. It contained a chapel of the Holy Cross on the first floor and a refectory warmed by an accumulative furnace. It received the rib vaults and the chapel received stellar vault. The characteristic porch, decorated with a rich portal, was situated in the wall thickness. In the northern range, a kitchen was placed on the ground floor. Higher storeys, illuminated only with slotted windows, were occupied with food storages and kitchen equipment. The eastern range housed a dormitory, and western range maybe chambers of a commander. The inner ward was surrounded by two-story wooden cloisters, with a well in the middle.
All ranges were crowned with corner turrets and gothic gables made at the end of construction, although the upper castle facades were characterized by the severity characteristic of early Chełmno castles. Larger pointed windows had only a chapel and a refectory, while the remaining interiors were equipped only with narrow slit windows (some of them were topped with triangles). Only the blendes of the north and east wings stood out in the façades of the courtyard. The pointed blende was also above the cloister roof in the eastern part of the southern wing, probably imitating the chapel window. The accents that diversified the exterior were the above-mentioned angular (quadrilateral with a bevelled corner from the inside of the castle) corner turrets articulated with blendes, as well as the gables of the main wing. The eastern one was flanked by two described turrets, while the western triangular blendes were filled with painted tracery decorations.
On the western foreground of the castle there was an economic outer ward about 70 x 110 meters, separated by a dry ditch and a zwinger wall from the upper castle. It had a symmetrical, trapezoidal shape, probably resulting from the original arrangement of timber and earth building. In the second phase of construction around the mid-fourteenth century, it was reinforced with a defensive wall with two corner towers and a gatehouse with a foregate from the west. Along the western curtain of the outer ward, to the south of the gatehouse was a long economic building, probably serving as a stable. The economic buildings were also probably located on the north side of the gate. Another large, rectangular building was located in the south-eastern corner of the castle, probably originated from the Middle Ages, perhaps it contained a bath or a smithy, known from historical sources.
In the third stage of works, at the end of the fourteenth century, a round south-west tower was built with an underground prison cell and a cylindrical tower in the north-west corner. They were adapted to fire fighting and had radial arrowslits. The south-western tower, preserved until today, was not originally much higher and probably had only one more floor (currently 15 meters high, originally it could have been about 18 meters or slightly more). It was placed on a four-sided pedestal probably started but not finished the second main tower. On the upper floor it was accessible from the level of the convent house by a timber bridge. Radial spacing loop holes were located on its individual floors, placed from the inside in segmentally vaulted niches. This arrangement allowed flank fire. The northern tower was probably similar, although it could have a slightly smaller diameter.
In the fourth stage of construction, at the beginning of the fifteenth century, buildings were built on the zwinger area, on both sides of the entrance to the upper castle. One of them was occupied by the commander’s apartments. Perhaps during this period also a small building of unknown destiny was erected, pressed into the corner between the south, cylindrical tower and the wall closing the moat. After the war damages of 1422 new ceilings and vaults were made and the former arcaded dansker was transformed into a quadrilateral building in the form of a small tower.
To this day the upper castle has survived in the gothic-renaissance form. It stands out also, preserved in the original shape, and only slightly reduced, south-west tower. The castle houses a museum, hotel and restaurant, and regular outdoor events are organized. The tour starts at full hours, every half hour in the season.
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, red. L.Kajzer, Warszawa 2003.
Torbus T., Zamki konwentualne państwa krzyżackiego w Prusach, Gdańsk 2014.
Wasik B., Budownictwo zamkowe na ziemi chełmińskiej od XIII do XV wieku, Toruń 2016.
Wasik B., Zamek golubski w średniowieczu. Architektura i technika budowy, “Komunikaty warmińsko – mazurskie”, nr 2 (304), Olsztyn 2019.