World Heritage #0847 – Malbork

Last modified 28.03.2022 | Published 29.01.2017North and Central Europe, Poland, World Heritage Sites

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It took an extreme amount of red bricks to create the massive complex at Malbork. It is the world’s largest castle of its kind.

The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a thousand properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

Official facts

  • Full title of site: Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork
  • Country: Poland
  • Date of Inscription: 1997
  • Category: Cultural site

UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 847:

This 13th-century fortified monastery belonging to the Teutonic Order was substantially enlarged and embellished after 1309; when the seat of the Grand Master moved here from Venice. A particularly fine example of a medieval brick castle, it later fell into decay; but was meticulously restored in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of the conservation techniques now accepted as standard were evolved here. Following severe damage in the Second World War it was once again restored; using the detailed documentation prepared by earlier conservators.

Malbork Castle is the most complete and elaborate example of the Gothic brick castle complex in the characteristic and unique style of the Teutonic Order; which evolved independently from the contemporary castles of western Europe and the Near East. The spectacular fortress represents the phenomenon of the monastic state in Prussia, founded in the 13th century and developed in the 14th century by the German communities of military monks who carried out crusades against the pagan Prussians on the south Baltic coast. The fortified monastery on the River Nogat represents the drama of Christianity in the late Middle Ages, stretched between extremes of sanctity and violence.

Over a span of two hundred years, since the 18th Century; the Malbork Castle has remained one of the major objects of European fascination with medieval history and its material remains. It also became a sign of the tendency to treat history and its monuments as instruments in the service of political ideologies.

My visit

I made it a day out from Gdansk in northern Poland and was like every other visitor struck by the size of the castle. It is immense. With the aid of an audio-guide and my feet, I managed to get a feel of what this place was about, and its history back to the late 13th century when the crusaders belonging to the Teutonic Order settled here. I suggest that you spend at least three hours at the Malbork castle.

Read more about my visit.

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