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.
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 largestbrewery in the country.
Elbląg is the Polishderivative of the German name Elbing, which was assigned by the Teutonic Knights to the citadel and subsequent town placed by them in 1237 next to the river. The purpose of the citadel was to prevent the Old Prussian settlement of Truso from being reoccupied, as the German crusaders were at exterminatory war with the pagan Prussians. The citadel was named after the river, itself of uncertain etymology. One traditional etymology connects it to the name of the Helveconae, a Germanic tribe mentioned in Ancient Greek and Latin sources, but the etymology or language of the tribal name remains unknown. The oldest known mention of the river or town Elbing is in the form Ylfing in the report of a sailor Wulfstan from the end of the 9th century, in The Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan which was written in Anglo-Saxon in King Alfred's reign.