Elbląg [ˈɛlblɔŋk] ( listen) (German: Elbing; Old Prussian: Elbings) is a city in northern Poland on the eastern edge of the Żuławy region with 124,257 inhabitants (December 31, 2011). It is the capital of Elbląg County and has been assigned (since 1999) to the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. Previously it was the capital of Elbląg Voivodeship (1975–1998) and a county seat within Gdańsk Voivodeship (1945–1975).
Elbląg is one of the oldest cities in the province. Its history dates back to 1237, when the Teutonic Order constructed their fortified stronghold on the banks of a nearby river. The castle subsequently served as the official seat of the Teutonic Order Masters.
Elbląg became part of the Hanseatic League, which contributed much to the city's wealth. Through the Hansa agreement, the city was linked to other major ports like Danzig (Gdańsk), Lübeck and Amsterdam. After the defeat of the Teutonic Knights at the Battle of Grunwald and conclusion of the Second Peace of Thorn in 1466, the city was annexed by Poland. It then flourished and turned into a significant trading point, but its growth was eventually hindered by the Second Northern War and the Swedish Deluge.
The city was transferred to Prussia after the first partition of Poland in 1772. Its trading role greatly weakened, until the era of industrialization, which occurred in the 19th century. It was then that the famous Elbląg Canal was commissioned.
After World War II the city again became part of Poland. The war casualties were catastrophic, especially the severe destruction of the Old Town district, one of the grandest and most beautiful in East Prussia.
Today, Elbląg has over 120,000 inhabitants and is a "vibrant city with an attractive tourist base". It serves as an academic and financial center and among its numerous historic monuments is the Market Gate from 1309 and St. Nicholas Cathedral. Elbląg is also renowned for its archaeological sites, museums and the largest brewery in the country.
The Elbląg Canal is believed to be one of the most important monuments related to the history of engineering and has been named one of the Seven Wonders of Poland. The canal was also named one of Poland's official national Historic Monuments (Pomnik historii) in 2011. Its listing is maintained by the National Heritage Board of Poland.