The grounds on which the castle was later erected were captured by the Teutonic Knights in 1236. After the capture of the local Prussian settlement, the knights created only a timber watchtower here, because at that time the construction of a stone caommandry castle in the nearby Dzierzgoń was in progress, and Zantyr served as a base for further conquests. When the castle was built in Malbork in the fourth quarter of the 13th century, only the Teutonic court existed in Sztum, at which a small settlement was established. It was mentioned for the first time in sources in 1294.
A brick castle in Sztum (Stuhm) was built in the second quarter of the 14th century (around 1326), during the time of the great master Werner von Orseln. From 1331, it was the seat of the Teutonic vogt, subordinate to commandry in Malbork. Its task was also to protect the road from Kwidzyn to the capital of the Teutonic state. At the beginning of the fifteenth century, castle was expanded, because it also began to act as an occasional residence of great masters, using the stronghold during hunting. Around 1406, a zoo was established near the stronghold, to which prince Vytautas gave to great master an aurochs from the Lithuanian wilderness. From this period, there are also references to the establishment of vineyards and rose gardens in the vicinity.
The times of hunting and ostentatious feasts passed after the defeat of the Order at the Battle of Grunwald. The vogt of Sztum, Henry Potendorf, fell there, and the castle was plundered by Polish-Lithuanian troops going to Malbork. After withdrawing from siege, king Jagiełło left a Polish garrison in Sztum, but it succumbed to the Teutonic army under Henry von Plauen. In the second half of the fifteenth century, the burghers of Sztum came to the Prussian Confederation, but after the outbreak of the Thirteen Years’ War in February 1454, the Teutonic Knights defended themselves for quite a long time in the Sztum Castle, until August 8. The winners garrisoned the stronghold with their own crew under the command of Jan Bażyński, the leader of the Prussian Confederation. After the defeat of the Polish armies at Chojnice on November 18 of the same year, the Teutonic Knights captured the castle and were in its possession until 1466. It was only under the Second Peace of Toruń that Sztum found itself in the lands granted to Poland, and the Polish starosts began to reside in the castle.
In the 16th century, Sztum lost its importance and declined, even the extension of the location privilege in 1553 by king Zygmunt I did not help. In the 17th century, the castle was destroyed during the Swedish wars, and the demolition of the damaged walls began in the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century, there were offices and prison at the castle buildings. In the years 1966-1971, renovation work was undertaken, completed only in the 90’s, when the main southern castle house was renovated.
The castle was located in the eastern part of the isthmus, between two lakes. From the west side there was an outer ward, from which the settlement developed, and then the town. The castle was different from typical defensive, Teutonic stronghold. It was built on an irregular, near-trapezoidal plan, conditioned by the shape of the isthmus.
The buildings were located along the defensive walls surrounding the vast inner courtyard. Their lower parts were made of glacial erratic stones and the higher ones were made of bricks. From the south-west there was a high, four-sided, seven-storey tower flanking the entrance gate. It was one of the three towers strengthening the defense circuit. In addition there was also a six-sided north-west tower and a rectangular tower from the north-eastern side. The six-sided was called a Prison Tower, because of the cell placed in it on the lowest floor. The entrance to the castle was placed in a gatehouse in the south-western part of the walls. It was preceded by a bridge on the moat, separating the castle from the town. From the south and west the castle was surrounded by an outer walls, an additional defense was provided by the moat on the side of the outer ward and the town, and from the north-east side, by digging two canals, a defensive outpost was separated.
The internal construction was located next to the inner faces of the defensive walls. At the short southern curtain there was a main house on a rectangular plan with dimensions of 11×52 meters. There was a refectory in it, rooms of the vogt and guest rooms. The building had a cellars and probably was three-storey. The cellars were located only under the western part and topped with rib vaults, supported by polygonal, brick pillars. From the side of the courtyard, a brick, two-storey gallery was added to the building. At the eastern wall lay a wing housing the chapel. It was extended in the fifteenth century. The wing placed near the western wall is poorly recognized. At the north side, there were economic buildings, including a granary. The well was located in the eastern part of the courtyard, apparently its water was considered the best in the town for a long time.
Expansion from the beginning of the fifteenth century resulted in the erection of a residential building on the west side, the east wing was expanded, and new economic buildings, such as a granary and stables were added.
To modern times the southern wing with vaulted cellars and defensive walls, with a much lowered gate tower and corner tower have been preserved. At the castle is the Brotherhood of the Knights of Sztum Land, organized are knights tournaments and battle shows. The castle is open from Monday to Friday in the hours 9.00-16.00 and on Saturdays in the 9.30-12.00.
Garniec M., Garniec-Jackiewicz M., Zamki państwa krzyżackiego w dawnych Prusach, Olsztyn 2006.
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, L.Kajzer, S.Kołodziejski, J.Salm, Warszawa 2003.