Forty-five minutes away from Gdańsk lies the city of Malbork, where you can find a breathtaking castle from the 13th century. The castle is seven centuries old and has never been conquered! It is the largest Gothic castle complex in the world, with an area of approximately 21 hectares, a masterpiece of defensive and residential architecture of the late Middle Ages (it even had central heating and a pretty impressive toilet). In 1997, the Castle in Malbork was enlisted on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list.
The works on the castle started around 1278, and in 1309, Malbork became the seat of the great masters of the Teutonic Order, who ruled over the area at that time. In 1457 the castle was bought by Polish king Kazimierz Jagiellończyk, and since then, it was the seat of Polish kings until 1772. In 1772, the Prussian army stayed in the castle and reconstructed the building for military purposes. Then in 1933, the flag of the Third Reich was hung on the castle. In the winter of 1945, during the battles for the city of Malbork with the Soviet Red Army, the Germans turned the castle into a point of resistance, which led to great destruction. During which 50-60% of the castle complex was destroyed, and its reconstruction continues practically to this day.
Except for the giant castle itself, you can see many other exhibits like collections of amber, paintings, and militaria. There are also exciting and inspiring exhibitions related to the castle’s history.
If you are in the area at the end of July, make sure to see the staging of the Siege of Malbork. The event refers to the events that took place in Malbork in 1410. It was then that the King of Poland, Władysław Jagiełło, with his troops, immediately after winning the Battle of Grunwald, made an attempt to capture the Teutonic fortress.
You can see horse shows, tournaments, chivalry games, knight’s camp and demonstrations of knightly life, plebeian games, competitions, and contests during the festival.
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Visiting the castle
Check tickets prices and opening times on the official website.
You can rent an audio guide or take part in a guided tour. We opted for an audio guide as we wanted to walk around independently and talk freely. We were pretty impressed with the audio guide system. We only had to hang it around our necks, and the guide automatically switched to an appropriate story as we passed along the route. As it is the biggest brick castle in the world, prepare for a little bit of walking. The whole tour took us around 3 hours.
How to get there
You can get there by train from Gdańsk. The trip takes around 45 minutes and is pretty cheap. We paid approximately 15 PLN (3€) for one way ticket. When you leave the train, you need to walk about 15-20 minutes from the train station to get to the castle.
For some reason, Google maps do not show all trains going to Malbork, and those that are shown take an insane amount of time. So in Gdańsk, go to the ticket office and say you would like a ticket to Malbork, and they will find a connection for you. There are around 50 trains a day, so there is no need to preplan visit too much.