Initially we didn't plan to go to Malbork, but since we were already so close, it's hard to pass by one of the largest and most beautiful castles in Poland indifferently!
Malbork Castle It is considered one of the largest and most beautiful in Poland. And no wonder! It knocks you out with its size, architecture and history. It can calmly compete with many a castle we have seen abroad (e.g. in England, France or Portugal).
Visiting the Castle Museum in Malbork is not considered the cheapest, the ticket costs 40 PLN, which by Polish realities can be a large amount of money. Especially if we take into account the trip of the whole family. Fortunately, there are discounted, family and evening tickets, so you can buy them a little cheaper. It is also possible to buy tickets online, but we decided to stand in line traditionally this time 😉
When buying a ticket, we have a choice of either a guided tour or an audio guide (available in multiple languages). We prefer to explore on our own, at our own pace, so we chose option #2.
Sightseeing Malbork Castle
Immediately after buying the tickets, we received a device with headphones, which step by step guided us all the way around the castle. What we lacked was some kind of map to keep track of where exactly we were and where what was located, because the guide only spoke up when we had already reached a specific place. This clever way ensured that everyone would follow the same route. Which, of course, has its pros and cons.
Sam Malbork Castle is impressive even from the outside – it is the largest brick castle in the world (!). This Gothic castle was built by the Teutonic Order, and its construction began in the 13th century. Needless to say, of course, it is on the list of Unesco World Heritage Sites? 😉
The castle has served various functions over the centuries and has been the seat of both the Grand Masters of the Teutonic Order, Polish and Prussian rulers. Of course, war conflicts have repeatedly destroyed and devastated the castle, which has been reconstructed several times.
Although the interiors are dilapidated and in rather rough condition (some of them are furnished, however), the architectural and finishing elements that can be admired during a tour of the castle are particularly noteworthy.
The complex is really large and can be divided into three main parts:
- High Castle
- Middle Castle
- The Low Castle (Pre-Castle)
We'll start from the end, that is, from the beginning… 😉
Low Castle (Pre-Castle)
After picking up the audio guides and listening to the introduction, we walked politely listening to the guide along the walls and moat, entering through one of the gates to the part called Pre-castle (the term Low Castle also appears), where there is a m.in. The building that used to be an armory (Karwan) and outbuildings. On the way we learn m.in. That the moat surrounding the castle was supplied with water from a specially built 40-kilometer-long canal.
This part is still free, open to everyone. Tickets are only checked at the entrance to the Castle Museum, i.e. at the entrance to the Middle Castle.
After passing through the gate, you emerge into a large courtyard, from where the guide immediately leads you to specific doors that we probably wouldn't have looked into on our own 😉
The first part of the tour is just exploring the different parts of the Middle Castle, including the m.in. The Palace of the Grand Masters (with the Chapel of St. In the Middle Castle we visit the St. Catherine's Church), the Great Refectory (the largest interior with characteristic arches in the vault).
Here you can also learn more about the heating system in the Castle (and it's underfloor ;-)).
In the Middle Castle we also visit the cloister with paintings of the apocalypse or the Infirmary (former hospital.). In addition, there is also an amber exhibition (east wing) with amazingly detailed sculptures, figures, jewelry, etc.
Just visiting the Middle Castle takes quite a bit of time, and the next part before us. It's worth taking a break – there are benches in the courtyard where you can rest and a restaurant where you can eat something warm.
High Castle is the oldest and highest part of the castle, consisting of four wings and a pre-castle, which was later rebuilt into the Middle Castle. The courtyard is surrounded by a cloister, and in its center is a well.
There were utility rooms downstairs, and more important rooms upstairs. Among the most interesting interiors are: The Castle Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the chapter house, the convent refectory (the dining room), the convent kitchen (a very interestingly arranged room showing how the food was prepared) and the chapel of St. Anny.
In the High Castle you can also see exhibitions: archaeological and stained-glass windows. In addition, you can walk around the High Castle through the terraces, or spaces between the castle and the defensive walls. There are m.in. An exhibition of architectural elements, a cemetery, a garden and an old mill.
At the exit of the Castle Museum, booths with food, souvenirs, knight gadgets are waiting for us. There is also a restaurant and barbecue stands next to it, so no one will leave the Castle grounds hungry. Unfortunately, there's no denying that the souvenirs are a bit kitschy and we suspect imported straight from China 😉
Do we recommend Malbork Castle?
We could probably write about the history of the whole Castle, interesting facts, exhibitions in several separate posts… But the intention of this post is to encourage you to visit this place in person. This is a world monument, so we Poles should also be aware of its existence and history.
And I don't just mean a trip in elementary school, because let's not hide, you don't remember much from such trips in adulthood. It's worth coming knowingly, of your own free will, and spend those 4 hours learning about the history not only of this castle, but also of Europe at that time.
We, for sure, will recommend Malbork Castle and despite a few shortcomings (not very flexible audiobook, lack of maps) we believe that this is one of the most important points on the map of Poland!