Saturday, May 12, 2018

Malbork Castle

Marianne had read about Malbork Castle so we decided to visit it.

We decided to take the train which was quite inexpensive and took about an hour.

Old tank steam engine at the station.

We crossed the Vistula River which we will see again in Warsaw and Krakow.

The flat Polish plain.

I wonder if there are two separate residences or they ran out of yellow paint.

The Nogat River that flows beside the castle. It is actually a delta branch of the Vistula.

We arrived at the Malbork station and started the mile or so walk to the castle. We passed this curious bar with sewing machines. At 10 am it wasn't doing any business. On our return there was still no action.

The main shopping street. Poland seems to have clean air and the sun is quite strong.

The castle came into view.

We bought tickets for $8 each and were given an audio guide with headphones.

The castle is the largest in the world measured by land area. Just to the left of center is a large statue of the Virgin Mary. It is over 8 meters tall and was reconstructed after the war.

It was quite a walk just to get to the entrance.

From Google Maps. We entered from the south east side.

One of the moats. The castle was attacked a few times and was successfuly defended.

Much of what you will see in the following photos is actually reconstruction after the damage of WWII. 

Draw bridge entrance.

Another moat.


I think this is the first cat we have seen on the trip so far in both Norway and Poland.

The trees were in full leaf and it was very pleasant strolling along though it was starting to get hot.

There were parties of school children everywhere. They made progress and taking of photographs difficult. Except for tourists, you see only white people in this area.

The audio guide works very well and is location based. It appears to pick up a signal when you pass a given spot and starts talking about what you can see. It also has a small screen to show pictures of what door you should enter as you proceed to the next room. However, it does tend to make you move a bit more quickly than is comfortable. The vast amount of information soon becomes difficult to remember so many of the photographs will not have comments.

This massive door had a cutout.

This small door on the other side of the entrance matched the cutout on the other side.

Part of the large courtyard in the center of the castle.

You really needed the audio guide to find out that you needed to enter the building via one of the small entrances at the corner.

Vaulted ceilings supported by columns were common.

I suspect this is a ceramic stove to keep the room warm.

There are two toilets in the whole complex. The other one was for the Grand Master. This one was for the head chef.

The castle was built by the Teutonic knights after they left Venice and there were over 3000 resident in the complex. Feeding them would have been a massive tasks.

The castle was sold to the Polish Kings and this particularly dissolute looking person was one of them. He looks like a rock star on drugs and you can read about him here.

Of course, the Teutonic Knights was a religious order with a military purpose to protect Christians in the Holy Lands. They also established hospitals.

Covering for one of the numerous wells.  The castle was built to withstand sieges.

Huge hearth where food was cooked under a large chimney.

More of the vaulting.

Floor tiles.

Faded wall paintings.

I think this is one of the devices that controls the audio. It was a very well thought out system and made it relatively easy to get around a complex castle.

Presumably some sort of foot bath.

A place to wash your hands.

Another of the numerous large spaces. This was the Chapter House where the knights would have sat on the bench that surrounds the room to discuss issues. The Grand Master had his own special seat.

Interesting doors that probably belonged to a large cupboard.

Tiled floor.

Large tapestries.

There was a book where visitors could sign and make comments. Chopin is reputed to have visited. The castle was a popular destination for the Nazis and Hitler visited as well.

Statues of the first four Grand Masters. The guides for the children wore traditional dresses. 

Back to the courtyard again.

And the audio guide took us into an amber museum. For a while Malbork controlled the lucrative amber trade.

We stopped for lunch and had a bottle of cider and a bowl of cauliflower soup. It had large chucks of cauliflower floating in it and was delicious. Yes, Robin, we each had a bottle.

The tree is apparently an English oak trained to grow in a restricted upward shape rather than the normal wide spreading shape.

A rather daunting set of steps to climb. The castle is definitely not friendly to the disabled.

Into the old weapons museum.

That is a ferocious looking weapon.

It hurts a bit.

Horse armor.

Suits of armor.

That is a hisser with the feathers. It must have been very heavy to wear.

Yet another draw-bridge.

It is probable that jousting tournaments were held in this dry moat.

Tomb of a Grand Master. The position was incredibly powerful.

More tombs to the right.

The blotches are probably evidence of repair work after WWII.


The classic naked man pose which was probably not the intent.

The rose garden which was an area of relaxation for the Grand Master. 

Another kitchen. 

Bread making area.

This statue of Christ has been exhibited all over the world. Don't ask me how I managed to incorporate the blue square by his head, or why.

Br now we were quite tired and since we had seen the majority of the castle, we headed off back to Gdansk.  The castle is well worth visiting but its size overwhelms the brain. I was reminded of some of the large Indian forts and palaces which are much more colorful and more ornamented.

Fortunately there were some heavy rain storms including hail that reduced the heat.

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