If you are in the city of Gdansk for a few days, it is worth taking a side trip to Malbork. It might be an hour by train, but it’s definitely worth the trip. Malbork Castle is like one of the castles that many childhood dreams come from. From the banks of the river Nogat, you have an unobstructed view so you can stare at the castle in all its medieval glory.
Malbork Castle was built in Prussia in 1274 by the Teutonic Order as an Ordensburg, or a fortress. It was originally called Marienburg,, literally meaning “Mary’s Castle” and was named after the Virgin Mary, the Order’s patron saint. It is the largest medieval fortress in Europe, consisting of three sections: the High, Middle and Lower Castles Each castle is separated by moats and towers. After many years of battle and unrest, the castle was turned over to Poland, where it really belonged.
In the fifties, the castle was under the care of the Polish Tourist and Country Lovers Society. Now, the castle has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 and a huge tourist attraction. It’s best to visit Malbork in the early fall, when most of the tourists have gone. A tour of the castle is like a trip back in time, and you’d almost wish you were in costume so you could totally immerse yourself and appreciate the lifestyle of the Teutonic knights. You will learn about how the fortress was built, and take a look around the exterior of the castle where the guard towers are. The interior of the castle, in true medieval fashion, is a maze of tunnels and hallways, towers and rooms. Taking a complete tour of Malbork Castle takes about four hours, and that’s just for the interior alone. Spend an entire day at the castle for an experience to remember.
How to get there:
It’s an 82-kilometer drive from Gdansk. Take the international road E77 then turn right to national road 55 and continue for 24 kilometers from there. If you want to take the train at Gdansk, it’s 60 kilometers away.
Where to stay:
Zamek – If you want a medieval feel even when you sleep, this is the place to go. Zamek is inside the old Teutonic hospital, and furnished in true medieval style. It has 42 rooms.
Grot – A business hotel featuring 18 rooms, it has modern amenities like en-suite bathrooms, cable TV, and free wireless Internet. Rooms range from single to quadruple sharing.
Hotels Parkowy – Located inside the town’s most beautiful park, the hotels amenities are basic but clean. There are 19 rooms total.