Largest castle in the world
Malbork Castle – updated 10 January 2023.
Malbork Castle in the north of Poland is the largest castle in the world measured by land area and was designated a World Heritage Site in December 1997 by UNESCO. Located on the east bank of the River Nogat, this Gothic brick-built fortress once belonged to the Teutonic Order and it served as their headquarters for almost 150 years.
Originally a fortress named Marienburg, the Teutonic Knights began this incredible construction in the 13th century and the structure took shape in various stages. Initially, the construction consisted of a formidable central bastion called the High Castle. The Middle Castle and Lower Castle followed and finally, the complex was encircled by three rings of defensive walls strengthened with towers and dungeons.
The Teutonic Knights
The Teutonic Knights were a German Catholic religious order of crusaders with considerable military power; however, Malbork was seized by the Polish Army in 1457 during the Thirteen Years’ War at a time when the strength and influence of the Order had started to diminish.
Over the years, the castle has been home to many different occupiers including the Prussians who turned the castle into a barracks and in the process, dismantled parts of the complex with no military significance and also caused major damage to the interior decoration. The castle sustained further damage during WWII.
Restoration and conservation
Despite all of this and thanks largely to intervention and restoration, the castle today looks like it did 600 years ago and almost the entire complex has been preserved. Restoration and conservation work was carried out in the 19th and early 20th centuries and also at the end of WWII with many forgotten medieval art and craft techniques being rediscovered.
Visitors to the castle can take advantage of an audio guide that utilises GPS with a set route, which if followed ensures that everything that is worth seeing is seen. There are also amenities at the ticket office such as toilets, refreshments and lockers.
During your visit, you’ll see the Middle Castle courtyard, the Grand Masters’ Palace with its 450 m2 Great Refectory, the Amber Museum, St Anne’s Chapel (where 12 Grand Masters were buried), High Castle, the Gdaniska (the Knights’ loo), St Mary’s Church and a multitude of other delights such as drawbridges & Gothic doorways.
If you are planning to visit Malbork, the castle is definitely worth a visit, it’s one of the most popular tourist attraction in Poland and it is a perfect destination for history buffs, architecture enthusiasts and for everyone who enjoy the Medieval era.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the castle:
Q: What is the history of the castle?
A: The castle was built by the Teutonic Knights, a German medieval Christian military order, in the 14th century. It was originally called the Marienburg Castle and it served as the headquarters of the Teutonic Order and as a residence for the Grand Masters of the order. The castle also played an important role in Polish-Teutonic Wars. The castle was captured and reconstructed many times through the centuries. It was rebuilt by Polish kings and was later used as a prison, an arsenal, and a museum.
Q: How big is Malbork Castle?
A: The castle is one of the largest castles in the world, covering an area of 143,591 square meters. It has three main sections – the High Castle, Middle Castle, and Lower Castle. It also features an impressive collection of Gothic architecture and defensive walls.
Q: Is the castle a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
A: Yes, the castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, added to the list in 1997.
Q: What can be seen at the castle?
A: Visitors to the castle can see the impressive medieval architecture and defensive walls of the castle, as well as learn about its history through displays and exhibits. The castle also includes a museum of the Teutonic Knights and art from the Middle Ages. There are also guided tours offered to visitors which includes access to certain areas of the castle that are not open to the general public.
Q: How to get to Malbork Castle?
A: The castle is located in the city of Malbork, Poland. It can be reached by car, train or by bus. The nearest train station is in Malbork, and the castle is a short walk from the station.
Q: What is the best time to visit the castle?
A: The best time to visit the castle would depend on your personal preferences. The castle is open year-round and it may be quite crowded during the peak summer season. If you prefer to avoid the crowds and have a more leisurely visit, it might be best to visit during the shoulder or off-peak season. The castle also has a number of events held in the area throughout the year like Medieval Festival, Knight Tournament and similar, so if you are interested in that, plan your visit accordingly.