For anyone who likes castles, Malbork is the place for you. Just remember to wrap up warm.
How: Hour or so train ride from Gdańsk Główny – around £4 each way
When: 10th March 2013
Weather: Bitterly cold. Snow.
Not far from Gdańsk, Malbork was high up on my to-do list on visiting the Baltic city. Not only is Malbork the world’s largest castle (by surface area), the largest brick building in Europe and, as of 1997, a UNESCO World Heritage site, but it’s also exactly as you would imagine Hogwarts to be. An “easy day trip” from Gdańsk, we nonetheless encountered a few hiccoughs during our day trip.
Formerly known as Marienburg Castle, it was originally built by the Teutonic Knights, though it has undergone quite a few facelifts and reconstructions since then, including after a recent fire in 1959. The castle shares a lot of similarities with Trakai Castle, in present-day Lithuania, which was also first known as a German settlement.
On arrival at the castle, we were told that the audio guides included in our entrance fee were on charge and wouldn’t be ready for another half an hour. As it was freezing, we decided to go in anyway. Though we had to simply guess the function of rooms as there was no information in English (or any other language besides Polish), this didn’t really take anything away from the grandeur of the place.
And grand it is! The place is absolutely huge. There were quite a few exhibitions on in some of the rooms, but the real fun was in just aimlessly exploring the various rooms and chambers of the buildings. And posing for typical tourist photos.
Though I loved the castle, I think Malbork is a place that really ought to be explored in summer. Like several other tourist attractions in Gdansk, the entire town seemed to be shut down when we visited in early March. And while the falling snow was atmospheric, it was ridiculously cold. The small town is virtually in the middle of nowhere, leaving it exposed to the bitter wind.
My biggest regret is being too cold to venture out to the other side of the river to capture my own version of this iconic shot.
As mentioned in a previous post, my daytrip to Malbork was also memorable for another reason: I accidentally locked an old Polish woman in a cupboard.
In my attempt to do the size of the place justice, here are a few of my snaps of the castle.