Why and how on earth did I end up at yet another castle? Well, I promised one of my students that I would visit Malbork Castle. Then, after reading about it, and passing it on the train from Warsaw to Gdansk, I felt I had to go. Anyway, I seem to have written so much about castles over the past year, I thought, ‘Why not?’
It has a rather interesting history. It started out as a fortified monastery, founded by the Teutonic Order in the 13th century, and then expanded over the years to the size it is today.
The Teutonic Knights only used it as their headquarters for a short while. Nonetheless, it was an important stronghold they wanted to maintain. At the start of the 15th century, they were defeated, and then there was a two-month siege. In the middle of the 15th century, the castle was handed over to the Polish king as payment for outstanding debts.
Everything was hunky dorey until the 17th century when the Swedes invaded and took hold of the castle for a few short years. Fast forward another few centuries, and the castle was severely damaged during WWII. It lay empty after that until the 1960s when the Malbork Castle Museum was created. This was its saving grace. Then, in 1997, it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage listing, which they state is
…the most complete and elaborate example of the Gothic brick castle complex in the characteristic and unique style of the Teutonic Order… (UNESCO/NHK)
There is ongoing renovation work at the castle to return it to its original state. With that and the fact that it was low season when I was there, a number of the rooms were locked, or pulled apart. That was a problem having paid full price.
Included in the admission fee is a guided tour or audio guides. I wasn’t told about a tour, so I think my only option was an audio guide. That’s what I was given, so I think it’s safe to assume that. It was interesting finding out about some of the story behind the castle, although it did go into more detail than I needed quite often. The great thing about having an audio guide is that you can skip bits and rewind, so that was good.
If the staff are normally how they were when I was there, don’t expect to get a warm welcome, but a rather frosty reception.
You can get there by train from Gdansk. If you take the express train, which takes 20 minutes, it will set you back 50zl (price as of 2015) one way, or the slower train which only costs 13.50zl one way and takes 40 minutes. I opted for the slower train.
I alighted at Malbork station, but there is another stop called Malbork Kaldowo. It’s on the other side of the River Nogat. I honestly don’t know how easy it is to get to the castle from there, but you’ll definitely get a good angle for photos of the whole castle from a distance. That’s something I didn’t manage to get.
Have your say
Have you been to Malbork Castle? If so, what was your impression of it? Care to share one of your pics of the castle? If so, add that and/or your experience in the comments section below.