The beginnings of Świecie date back to the early Middle Ages, when there was a Slavic earth and timber stronghold, which at the beginning of the fourteenth century belonged to the Pomeranian prince Świętopełk. In 1309, this stronghold was conquered by the Teutonic Knights together with the entire East Pomerania, and in 1320 it was adopted as the seat of the teutonic commandry. The brick castle was built in another place in the years 1335-1350, although the finishing and construction works on the outer ward were stretched over the next few years. After finishing, the castle in Świecie was considered a key stronghold in the defense system of the Teutonic East Pomerania, and the Świecie commandry became one of the most influential in the entire Teutonic State. The strategic importance of the castle can be proved by the fact that in 1377 it was equipped with firearms. At that time, it was only the second Teutonic castle (the first one was the castle in Lipienek), which had such then modern weaponry.
In 1410, during the Great War with the Teutonic Order, the castle was besieged by Polish troops. During the Thirteen Years War, it was temporarily in the hands of anti-teutonic forces and suffered considerable damage during the fighting. In the years 1461-1502 the castle was owned by the city council of Toruń, from which order upper part of the northwestern tower was rebuilt. In the years 1508-1772 it was the seat of the starosts offices. In the second half of the 16th century it was rebuilt in the renaissance style by the castellan of Jerzy Konopacki. In 1664 it burned down and began to gradually undergo destruction. After 1772 the Prussian authorities undertook the demolition, but fortunately it was cancel and since 1859 work has begun to secure the castle. Partial reconstruction of the fortress started after the Second World War.
The castle was situated in the forks of the Vistula and Wda rivers, as a two-part complex, consisting of the convent’s house (upper castle) and the outer ward. From the west access to it was defended by the fortified town, transferred from its original location on the slope after 1338. Initially, the Vistula was flowing almost under the walls of the castle, and the bank of the Wda, unlike the current state, was about 30 meters away. On the eastern side of the castle, at the mouth of Wda, there was a natural triangular spur. From the west, an outer ward was preceded by a wide moat, nearly 40 meters wide, connecting the Wda and Wisła. Another moat protected the upper castle on three sides, however, it was not connected with the Vistula along its entire width, because it was closed by a dam from the east. Probably the banks of the moats on the north and east sides were covered with wood or surrounded with a palisade. Perhaps they were not always filled with water, it was flooded as needed through the culverts.
The outer ward, surrounded by a wall, measured about 95 x 90 meters. In the middle of the western wall there was a four-sided tower flanking the entrance gate, located on its southern side. On the courtyard of the outer ward stood a commander’s house, standing on the side of the Vistula, near the southern curtain. It had to be a large building, because it had a cellar, on the ground floor it housed rooms of secular auxiliary knights (dieners), and on the first floor there was a chamber of a commander. In the neighborhood, and therefore also from the south, there was also a stable, while recorded in the sources coach house, (if it can not be identified with the mentioned stable), it had to be located near the northern curtain. In addition to the above buildings, there was a cowshed, probably erected on the western side. Apart from it, other economic objects (for exemple a forge) had to be located on the outer ward, whose location is now unknown. Most likely, it were located along with the infirmary from the north.
In the eastern part of the castle there was a gate leading to a wooden bridge, based on brick or wooden pillars. Behind the bridge (in the zwinger line) was another gate with a door. The drawbridge next to it was raised on chains. The zwinger was crossed by a gates neck with a paved surface, and in the side walls there were wickets leading to the zwinger area.
Up to the present day, the northern wing has been partially restored with the main tower topped with machikuli and a north-east tower. Only the vaulted basement survived from the east wing, the lower parts of all other towers also survived, as well as short sections of the outer walls. The castle is open to the public every summer except Monday, from 10.00 to 18.00.
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, red. L.Kajzer, Warszawa 2003.
Torbus T., Zamki konwentualne państwa krzyżackiego w Prusach, Gdańsk 2014.
Wasik B., Zamek w Świeciu. Topografia i technika budowy zamku krzyżackiego, “Komunikaty mazursko-warmińskie” nr 2 (300), Olsztyn 2018.