South of Darłowo’s central Rynek is its well-preserved 14th-century castle, erected in 1352 and renovated in 1988. It was the residence of the Pomeranian dukes until the Swedes devastated it during the Thirty Years’ War; the Brandenburgs then took it following the Treaty of Westphalia. The dethroned King Erik, who ruled Denmark, Norway and Sweden between 1396 and 1438, and was known as the ‘last Viking of the Baltic’, lived in the castle for the last 10 years of his life.
The castle’s grand halls and noble quarters are now a museum, but your self-guided tour begins in the claustrophobic brick basement where beer and prisoners were once kept. Amid the impressive interiors, old farming implements, art from the Far East and old postcards from Rügenwalde (the German name for Darłowo), what sticks in the memory is the impressive collection of antique furniture, which includes a late-Renaissance Italian four-poster and some Danzig wardrobes of truly preposterous proportions.
King Erik is believed to have hidden his enormous ill-gotten treasure somewhere in the castle. So far it remains undiscovered, so keep your eyes peeled as you wander! The castle’s main tower can be climbed for stupendous views.