Largest Brick Medieval Castle in the World

Malbork Travel Blog

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Another night of sleeping in my clothes and jacket beneath the two blankets! It was cold in my basement room. The early morning racket above my head didn’t help either. I looked exhausted and felt it, too!

I was so tired that I didn’t even make a decision on the day’s plan before getting to the train station.

I decided that if I could get a ticket to Malbork and it was easy, that would be my day. If not, the beach or museums. As it turned, I was 5 minutes away from the train leaving for Malbork (15.5 pzl one-way). The only problem is that it wasn’t clear what track??? Also, there were other words….in Polish…..aarrgghh!! I went to the track that I thought was right.

The train was going to Krakow….but the info at the platform didn’t say that it stopped at Malbork. I couldn’t find any assistance, train side so, I let it got. I returned to the main station and got in line for the same lady who helped me before. While in line, I deciphered the board. The next train was coming in 10 minutes and it would stop at Malbork….it said so on the sign at the train!!!

It was an hour and a half journey through mostly flat lands of Northeastern Pomerania. There were some wetlands with lily pads but, mostly just grass and train tracks.

The train pulled into a stop with the Malbork name but…another name, also. I could see the castle from here. There were several others who got up to leave. I had seen them looking at the same travel guide as me.

They were stopped from getting off the train. A guy motioned for them to wait. I’m glad that I waited, too. The next stop was the main train station and the town.

It was a good 30 minute walk through town to get to the castle grounds. It is an industrial town with a fresh and colorful town center. It all looks to be very new.

Just a few minutes past the center, you cross a little river and then you start to see the bricks, the castle bricks. There are walls, and turrets, and towers, and naves, all in the orange-pink brick. You see Romanesque, Gothic, and Baltic elements in the design.

In the 13th century when The Order of the Teutonic Knights of St. Mary’s Hospital in Jerusalem were expelled from the named city, they moved to Transylvania to help defend Hungary from the Turks.

They were expelled by force in just a dozen years later. The Holy Roman Emperor had them build a fortress the north, Marienburg (Mary’s Castle), which is now Malbork. They were basically hired by several different royals to invade and Christianize the Baltic “Old Prussians”.

After the Christianization of Lithuania, the order lost it purpose and began involvement in campaigns against it’s Christian neighbors (Poland, Lithuania, Novgorod Republic).

In 1410 a Polish / Lithuanian army finally defeated the order and broke it’s military stronghold on the region.

Malbork Castle is the most complete and elaborate example of the Gothic brick castle complex in the characteristic and unique style of the Teutonic Order, which evolved independently from the contemporary castles of western Europe and the Near East.

The spectacular fortress represents the phenomenon of the monastic state in Prussia, founded in the 13th century and developed in the 14th century by the German communities of military monks who carried out crusades against the pagan Prussians on the south Baltic coast. The fortified monastery on the River Nogat represents the drama of Christianity in the late Middle Ages, stretched between extremes of sanctity and violence.

There are so many of this castle’s elements that have survived, you feel that you are there… the middle ages. The castle has been restored, obviously but, they had much to work with and have done a great job with the renovation. Some don’t miss points:

- The drawbridge and gate to the Middle Castle

- The bridge between the Middle and High Castle

- The Middle Castle - Exhibition of Weapons and Armors

- High Castle courtyard

- High Castle - Chapter House

- High Castle - Dignitary’s Chambers

- High Castle - Blessed Virgin Mary Church

There are many, many more and equally interesting things to see here.

I had been told, by a local, that it was “just a castle” and a couple of hours was enough. That was so very wrong, wrong isn’t a strong enough word for it. If you decide to come here, come early and plan to spend a whole day. This place is huge and has enough to keep your interest….all day long. I will come back as I haven’t seen all that I want of it.

I purchased a great companion book for touring the castle, a monument, a leather pouch filled with Teutonic coins (replicas), and a ceramic replica of a Goddess that protected the ancient Prussian tribes of Pomerania.

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photo by: boxinbcn