The Malbork Castle
The Malbork Castle (German: Marienburg – Mary’s Castle) is a masterpiece of late medieval, defensive and residential architecture. It is the largest gothic castle complex in the world, with the surface of approx. 21 hectares and the total building volume reaching more then 250 000 cubic meters, considered the biggest brick building ever to be built by human hands.
Malbork was built by stages since the early 1270’s, overtime becoming the basic element of the stronghold system in the Teutonic Knights’ Prussia. In the beginning (since 1280) it was meant to be commander’s castles. In 1309, it became the office of the Order’s great masters. Intensively expanded, in the 14th century it became the triple defensive assumption with a clearly separated High Castle, (monastery) the Medium Castle (the headquarters of the great master and great commander, as well as political center and aministrative center of the order’s country) and the ward (the huge economic background). As the country of the Order of Blessed Virgin Mary of the German House in Jerusalem’s capital city, the castle became the most important diplomacy center, a military center, an economic center, as well as a religous center. Before the mid-15th century, Malbork was famous around the world as one of the two main centers of Crusades to Lithuania and Żmudź, as well as the home to spectacular parties, feasts and tournaments, atracting kinghts from all over Eutope to Prussia.
In 1410 – after the defeat of Teutonic Knights upon Grunwald – the Nogat fortress, not conquered by the Polish-Lithuanian army, saved the future existence of the Order. The worsening political and economic crisis of the Teutonic Knights’ country lead to the subjects’ rebelion. (1454) and the country’s incorporation to the Polish Crown. In 1457, after being bought from the hands of mercenary Teutonic Knights, Malbork came into the hands of of King Kaimierz Jagiellończyk. From that moment on, for over three centuries, the stronghold filled the role of the temporary residence of the Polish rulers, the military base in Royal Prussia and the foremen’s headquarters, who had the administrative, militay, police and judicial power.
As a result of the first partition (1772), the northern lands of the Polish Republic, including the Nogat fortress, were located behing the border of Prussia. In the Prussian period, the Castle served
as the barrack and the storage. Severly devastated, it retrieved its gothic shape as a result of the great reconstruction works lead in the late 19th century and the early 20th century by a great architect – Conrad Steinbrecht.
In 1945, the Polish people became the owners of Malbork once again. Seriously destroyed in the last part of World War II, the castle was raised from its ruins overtime. It still remains an object of intense conservation works. In 1997, the Malbork Castle Complex was enlisted at the prestige UNESCO World Cultre Heritage List.