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Where Teutonic Knights once roamed

Poland Day 20. The Teutonic Order played a major part in Poland’s history and not far from Gdańsk lies what was the most critical part of their network – also the world’s largest brick castle.

I didn’t have set timeframes in mind but figured earlier was better. Got a fast(ish) train which delivered me to the town of Malbork around 9am. Unless you’re looking out the other direction, the castle and its expanse of red brick is impossible to miss as you’re passing. Fifteen minutes walk later and I was buying my ticket and audio guide.

I guess it would be a bit contrary if Malbork's train station wasn't also red brick

I guess it would be a bit contrary if Malbork’s train station wasn’t also red brick

Red brick has been a frequent sight on my trip – apparently it started to be used around the 12th century in places where there weren’t natural stone resources – and Brick Gothic is a particular architectural style.

The castle here at Malbork is one such example, built in the 1300s by the Teutonic Knights. I won’t blah on about their history, only to summarise that they were formed from the Holy Land crusades and the monk-warriors (bit of an oxymoron) themselves originated from Germany. They started forging their way through Europe to take their fight to the pagans and once in Poland, progressively conquered parts of the country and built a network of 120 castles along the way.

Fun fact: the castles were spaced out no more than one day’s ride away, about 30km. I’d seen the remnants of the fortress at Toruń, one of the first constructed by the knights. Malbork Castle came to be the biggest of them all.

Following are a few snaps from my walkabout as I juggled main camera with phone camera with audio guide. It’s a wonder I didn’t drop and break something.

Much damage was inflicted on the castle in 1945 and significant restoration has subsequently occurred. Parts of the castle are still in a ruinous state though

Much damage was inflicted on the castle in 1945 and significant restoration has subsequently occurred. Parts of the castle are still in a ruinous state though

Entering the outer part of the castle - as it is now, this was a dry moat I think

Entering the outer part of the castle – as it is now, this was a dry moat I think

Gate into the Middle Castle

Gate into the Middle Castle

The Great Refectory was used for banquets. Visible on the floor are vents for the the original underfloor heating system which was set up in the more important rooms

The Great Refectory was used for banquets. Visible on the floor are vents for the the original underfloor heating system which was set up in the more important rooms

Olden times floor

Olden times floor

Olden times ceiling

Olden times ceiling

The Summer Refectory is described as the most beautiful room in the castle. Back in the day it also had stained glass windows

The Summer Refectory is described as the most beautiful room in the castle. Back in the day it also had stained glass windows

Entrance to the High Castle which contained the monastery. You could only get across the drawbridge and through the gate by uttering the current password!

Entrance to the High Castle which contained the monastery. You could only get across the drawbridge and through the gate by uttering the current password!

Another ceiling. I guess the unicorns back then were a bit more stroppy

Another ceiling. I guess the unicorns back then were a bit more stroppy

Hallway to the... toilets

Hallway to the… toilets

I tippy-toed to look out a window and gave two pigeons a fright. Here though you can see some of the ruins which in some ways are more interesting than the restored parts

I tippy-toed to look out a window and gave two pigeons a fright. Here though you can see some of the ruins which in some ways are more interesting than the restored parts

From underneath the drawbridge to the High Castle

From underneath the drawbridge to the High Castle

I frollicked in the rose garden

I frollicked in the rose garden

Was just following my nose really but set off on a walk beside the river which turned into a loop around the castle. These are the Bridge Towers

Was just following my nose really but set off on a walk beside the river which turned into a loop around the castle. These are the Bridge Towers

The Bridge Towers are somewhat lacking a bridge. If it was still in existence during WW2 then it was among the bridges destroyed by the Germans as they retreated in 1945

The Bridge Towers are somewhat lacking a bridge. If it was still in existence during WW2 then it was among the bridges destroyed by the Germans as they retreated in 1945

Walking around the outside is useful for seeing where restoration work has and hasn't occurred

Walking around the outside is useful for seeing where restoration work has and hasn’t occurred

Couldn't go inside the main church as it is closed for restoration

Couldn’t go inside the main church as it is closed for restoration

Walked across the pedestrian bridge for views from across the river Nogat

Walked across the pedestrian bridge for views from across the river Nogat

zIMG_6843_bw

It amounted to a half-day trip though I got a slower train back.

And just for something different: pumpkins

And just for something different: pumpkins

Distance walked: 11.33km

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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nice photos

    30 September 2015
  2. Haley, I had n idea these castles are in Poland. Quite an intriguing wonder and parts of the inside are so beautiful. If only Hitler and his bas-turds had not blown up the castles. Hitler had one thing on his mind and that was evil destruction of certain people and places.

    This was very educational for me.

    2 October 2015
  3. Love this castle, moat and all! Something out of a fairy tale.

    27 February 2016
    • Thanks GP! I loved being able to see so much old history just about every day I was over there. Malbork is pretty stunning.

      2 March 2016

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