Starościńska 1, 82-200 Malbork, Poland
GPS: 54.041393156316, 19.03138438079
Also known as the Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork, Malbork Castle is a former medieval fortress which has been converted into a museum. Located in the Polish region of Pomerania, about 40 kilometres from the Baltic Sea, the castle is considered to be the largest brick building in Europe. It was built at the end of the Third Crusade, an event during which the Teutonic Order was founded in the Holy Land by Medieval German knights. During this great campaign of military expeditions, these fighters fought relentlessly against the Arab influence of the Moors on the European continent. They invaded new territories and Christianized the pagan peoples of Eastern Europe to establish their domination.
The transfer of the capital of the Teutonic Order from Venice to Malbork in 1309 marked a turning point in the history of Malbork Castle. The medieval complex was built along the Nogat River from the end of the 13th century. It rapidly expanded to form the largest Gothic fortress in Europe. Completed in 1406, the red brick structure gained a reputation for being impenetrable. At that time, it consisted of a unified and admirable ensemble of three fortified and interconnected enclosures: the High Castle (the oldest part), the Middle Castle and the Lower Castle, covering a total area of more than 20 hectares. Malbork Castle became the stronghold of the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order and his 3,000 or so knights who ruled over a vast territory.
In the years that followed, several military conflicts broke out within the monastic state. They pitted the Teutonic Order, aided by numerous mercenaries, against the armies of the Kingdom of Poland, the Prussian Confederation and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Thirteen Years’ War (1454-1466) put a strain on the finances of the Teutonic Order. The Grand Master, Ludwig von Erlichshausen, was forced to hand over ownership of Malbork Castle to mercenaries whom he could no longer pay. The latter immediately sold the fortress to the Kingdom of Poland in 1457. Far from being slaughtered, the Teutonic Knights led new offensives against the Prussian and Polish armies, but were finally defeated in 1466. The site was then used as the residence of the Polish royal family until 1772, when it passed into the hands of the Kingdom of Prussia. Despite the destruction of half of Malbork Castle by Russian bombardments (the site had become a German stronghold during the Second World War), it was the subject of remarkable restoration work. The conservation techniques and methods used are a success, so much so that the Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork has once again become the architectural masterpiece it was in the Middle Ages.