Idea #730 – Visiting the Castle of the Teutonic Knights in Malbork, Poland
The fortress of Marienburg or Malbork was founded in 1274 on the right bank of the Nogat river, arm of the Vistula, by the Teutonic knights. In 1309, after the capture of Gdansk, the castle became the seat of the Order of the Teutonic Knights and the largest Gothic fortress in Europe. It quickly becomes evident that the existing building is not suited to its new functions, and its development resumes, for about forty years. The walls are built with bricks imported from Prussia, according to a backsteingotik (“brick Gothic”) style architecture, typical of the influence of the German Hanseatic towns.
The convent is transformed into a high court, the Hochschloß. From 1341, since the death of Dietrich von Altenburg, the Sainte-Anne chapel becomes the burial place of the great masters. The old enclosure is also modified to encompass a large residential area, named Mittelschloß, where the visiting Knights reside. The Mittelschloß also includes the large refectory, an infirmary, and the palace of the grand master.
During the 14th century, a third courtyard, the Lower Castle or Unterschloß, was added. The Karwan was built there, a large armory where cannons and military equipment were stored. The Unterschloß has an attic on the edge of the river and various facilities: bell foundry, stables, brewery. Near these buildings stands the Saint-Laurent chapel, built especially for the servants of the castle. The whole is surrounded by ditches and walls flanked by towers. These walls join the fortifications of the city of Marienburg to the south.
The exceptional layout of the site, near a river, on flat ground, allows easy access to barges a hundred kilometers from the sea. The knights use it in particular as a toll and impose a monopoly on the amber trade. . The city later became a member of the Hanseatic League.
In January 1807, the first French units appeared briefly in Marienburg. Shortly after the Battle of Eylau on February 7 and 8, 1807, the first French and Russian wounded arrived in Marienburg and the castle was used as a field hospital. It is the same in June, after the battle of Friedland. In 1945, at the end of World War II, more than half of the fortress was destroyed. It will be rebuilt from 1946 to 1951. The castle is registered on the UNESCO world heritage list.
Where is it ?