The Malbork Castle

Wednesday, 2 November 2011 - 02:15 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Museums, Exhibitions, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  6 minutes

© DerHexer / Carschten

© DerHexer / Carschten

The Castle in Malbork is the largest castle in the world by area. It was built in Prussia by the Teutonic Knights, a German Roman Catholic religious order of crusaders, in a form of an Ordensburg fortress. The Order named it Marienburg (Mary’s Castle). The town which grew around it was also named Marienburg. The castle is a classic example of a medieval fortress, and on its completion in 1406 was the world’s largest brick Gothic castle. UNESCO designated the “Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork” and its Museum as the World Heritage Site in December 1997. It is one of two World Heritage Sites in the region with origins in the Teutonic Order. The other is the “Medieval Town of Toruń”, founded in 1231 as the site of the castle Thorn (Toruń).

Malbork Castle was founded by the Teutonic Order after the conquest of Old Prussia. Its main purpose was to strengthen their own control of the area following the Order’s 1274 suppression of the Great Prussian Uprising of the Baltic tribes. No contemporary documents survive relating to its construction, so instead the castle’s phases have been worked out through the study of architecture and the Order’s administrative records and later histories. The work lasted until around 1300, under the auspices of Commander Heinrich von Wilnowe. The castle is located on the southeastern bank of the river Nogat. It was named Marienburg after Mary, patron saint of the religious Order. The Order had been created in Acre (present-day Israel). When this last stronghold of the western Crusades fell to Muslim Arabs, the Order moved its headquarters to Venice before arriving in Poland.

The castle was expanded several times to house the growing number of Knights. Soon, it became the largest fortified Gothic building in Europe, on an nearly 52-acre site. The castle has several subdivisions and numerous layers of defensive walls. It consists of three separate castles – the High, Middle and Lower Castles, separated by multiple dry moats and towers. The castle once housed approximately 3,000 “brothers in arms”. The outermost castle walls enclose 52 acres (21 ha), four times the acreage of the enclosed space of Windsor Castle. The developed part of the property designated as a World Heritage Site is 18.0380 ha.

© DerHexer / Carschten © Mewes © DerHexer © Jan Mehlich © Thomas Stegh © Palladinus © Erik Zachte © Erik Zachte © Artur Szeja © Jan Mehlich © Nikater Memorial of the order's Grand Masters © Nikater © Przemysław Noparlik © Erik Zachte © DerHexer
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Memorial of the order's Grand Masters © Nikater
In the summer of 1410, the castle was besieged following the Order’s defeat by the armies of Władysław II Jagiełło and Vytautas the Great (Witold) at the Battle of Grunwald. Heinrich von Plauen successfully led the defence in the Siege of Marienburg (1410), during which the city outside was razed. In 1456, during the Thirteen Years’ War, the Order – deserted and opposed for raising taxes to pay ransoms for their own mercenaries taken by the Kingdom of Poland – could no longer manage financially. Meanwhile, Polish General Stibor de Poniec of Ostoja raised funds from Danzig for a new campaign against them. Learning that the Order’s Bohemian mercenaries had not been paid, Stibor convinced them to leave. He reimbursed them with money raised in Danzig. Following the departure of the mercenaries, King Casimir IV Jagiellon entered the castle in triumph in 1457.

After Prussia was liberated again, the castle became a symbol of Prussian history and national consciousness. Initiated by Theodor von Schön, Oberpräsident of West Prussia, in 1816, restoration of the castle was begun. It was undertaken in stages until World War II started. At the conclusion of the war, the city of Marienburg (Malbork) and castle again became part of Poland. The castle has been mostly reconstructed, with restoration ongoing since 1962 following a fire in 1959 which caused further damage. The main cathedral in the castle, restored just before World War II and then destroyed in battle, is still in ruins.

Today Malbork Castle is amoung the TOP 10 tourist attractions in Poland. Because of the war in 1410, the last time that Poland was able to win a fight against Germany, the biggest European Knight Festival takes place in the surrounding of the Malbork with participants form around the world anually.

Read more on Malbork Castle Museum and Wikipedia Malbork Castle. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organisations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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