Malbork has the largest Gothic castle in the world. The stronghold dates back to the year 1276. This was the year when the Teutonic Order of Knights made the settlement a military and political headquarters. The newly founded town and the castle were named after Holy Mary “Marienburg”, which became “Malbork” in Polish. Malbork castle was extensively damaged during WWII but has since been restored, for the most part, to its original state.
The castle is the towns blockbuster attraction, It sits on the banks of the sluggish Nogat River, an eastern arm of the Vistula. The Marienburg (Fortress of Mary) was built by the Teutonic Knights and was the headquarters of the order for almost 150 years. At its peak, the castle covered a total of 21 hectares. It was the central-piece in what was once a ring of 120 castles surrounding the Teutonic Knights’ territory.
The Castle became the residence of Polish kings for 300 years. This ended in 1772 when Poland was partitioned and Malbork fell into Prussian hands. Today, Malbork is a marvellous tourist attraction with nearly half a million tourists from around the world every year. A trip to the castle is a great history lesson for younger generations. The medieval atmosphere is very tangible. There is a well-organized and well-maintained museum on grounds. Both permanent and temporary exhibitions are on display all year round. These exhibitions focus on both life at Malbork castle as well as the history and the traditional Polish culture.
In 1997, the whole castle ensemble was put onto the UNESCO World Heritage List. In 2009, the town received a vast amount of investment. There is a Malbork welcome centre on the main Kościuszki Street in the centre of the town There is also a pedestrian precinct and a tourist information system etc. The town is now a delightful mix of medieval architecture, grey communist-era blocks and a handful of interesting churches and monuments.
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