The first Teutonic castle in Kowalewo Pomorskie was built around 1231. Most probably it was a wooden and earth stronghold, which in 1262 and 1269-1273 successfully defended against the invasions of Lithuanians, Bartians and Yotvingians. Two years later, the Teutonic Knights granted the settlement at the castle town rights, but after the destruction of the town and the first stronghold by the Tatars in 1286, probably another town location was made. Since 1278, Kowalewo was the seat of the teutonic commander. The first one was then Rudolf, and ten years later Arnold Kropf, who is credited with start of the construction of a brick castle. The work was completed in the time of the grand master Gotfryd Hohenlohe, more or less in 1290 or 1303.
During the Polish-Teutonic war in 1330, castle was besieged by Polish knights under the command of king Władysław Łokietek. However, due to the lack of strong siege equipment, it was not captured. In 1410 and 1422, it was temporarily occupied by the army of king Władysław II Jagiełło, but it always returned back to the Teutonic Knights. It was only after the Thirteen Years’ War that castle found itself within the borders of Poland and became the seat of the starosts and the place of municipal courts of the Chełmno Province. Damaged during the Swedish wars in the seventeenth century fell into disrepair. Finally, it was pulled down by the Prussian authorities around the middle of the 19th century.
The castle was located on the high bank of the lake, in the vicinity of a narrow isthmus. It probably consisted of a few wings around the inner courtyard and three outer baileys, surrounded by walls. The entrance was in the southern outer bailey and led over the moat over the bridge. The south outer bailey had the shape of an elongated rectangle with dimensions of 115 x 60 meters, whose defensive walls were reinforced with a corner, four-sided tower on the western side and a half tower in the southern curtain. Further to the north there was a central bailey with a shape in the trapezoidal plan with sides about 60-70 meters long. In the southern corner it had a small octagonal tower on a four-sided base. It probably flanked the entrance from the city to the southern bailey, and from there to the central one. On the northern side there was a third, western bailey and the upper castle, separated by a moat. Both the western bailey and the upper castle were surrounded by the common perimeter of the wall, and this two elements were not separated by a moat. From the north, the upper castle was protected by two semi-cylindrical towers in the zwinger wall. In one of the curtain walls was also a larger tower, which is mentioned in early modern surveys, but its exact location is unknown. The aforementioned walls of the wards were erected up to a few meters from stone and higher from a brick. Interior buildings were probably timber, it is also known that on one of the wards there was a building or a room for the guests of the Order.
The main upper castle was erected on a square plan of 45×45 meters, made of brick on a stone foundation. The entrance to it ran from the south side of the central ward, through the gates neck. From the north, there was a dansker tower on the lake shore. The castle probably did not have a main tower – bergfried, it was also not equipped with corner towers, nor had brick cloisters, although communication from the side of the courtyard probably provided timber porches. It seems likely, however, that the corners of the upper castle were accented by small turrets set on the walls, similar to those once found in the castle in Golub. Unfortunately, it is not known internal division of the building, it is only known that in the south wing there was a chapel (probably in the eastern part of the range) and probably a refectory. It was the main wing of the castle, with a basement, except for the gateway, which was not placed on the building axis, but was moved towards the west. This was forced by the arrangement of the middle ward, shifted in relation to the upper castle to the west. It is not certain what interiors were located in the west wing, perhaps on the first floor there was a dormitory. West wing had also basements. In the north and east wings there were probably utility rooms – a kitchen, a brewery and a bakery. The north wing had basement on the whole length, while the east wing was only in the northern part. The ranges surrounded a paved courtyard about 19 meters wide. Their facades, like the pillars of dansker and the neighboring parish church, were probably decorated with blendes.
At the end of the 14th century, information about the castle’s kitchen, bakery, locker room, infirmary, cellars and attics came, in which, among others, wine, mead, beer, dishes, tablecloths and towels were stored. In 1411, an armoury, a coach house, a cattle corral and a storehouse for agricultural equipment were also mentioned. In subsequent inspection surveys from 1416-1446, the church with liturgical equipment was mentioned, and in 1421 the vogts cellar, malt house, brewhouse, bakery and the building where the flour was stored were listed. From the preserved castle inventory from 1436, it is known in turn that on one of the outer wards there was, among others, forge, powder magazine, granaries, pigsties, cowsheds, crossbow workshop, stables and vineyard.
The whole castle was surrounded from the south, east and west by a moat with walled edges, and from the north access was protected by lake waters. On the eastern side there was a city, whose fortifications were linked with the castle.
Only fragments of the ground floor and pillar of dansker of incomplete high, currently reaching 14.5 meters, have survived to the present. There are also fragments of the defensive walls of the outer baileys, especially the southern ones.
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, red. L.Kajzer, Warszawa 2003.
Wasik B., Budownictwo zamkowe na ziemi chełmińskiej od XIII do XV wieku, Toruń 2016.
Wasik B., Wiewióra M., Próba rekonstrukcji układu przestrzennego zamku wysokiego (domu konwentu) w Kowalewie Pomorskim na podstawie źródeł historycznych i najnowszych wyników badań archeologiczno-architektonicznych, “Wiadomości Konserwatorskie”, 45/2016.