It is likely easier to protect a castle from intruders than to defend its reputation. At least, that is the case for some fortresses scattered all around Europe that are currently in the running for the coveted title of the biggest castle in the world, including northern Poland’s pride, Malbork Castle.
While a simple and quick search on Google shows a big difference of opinion and maths (apparently) when it's about finding which castle ultimately deserves proud bragging rights, popular opinion says that the rightful winner is Malbork Castle - at least while inserting nouns such as ‘gothic’ and ‘brick’ into the blend.
Today, we are on a mission - to talk about the world’s biggest castle - a 13th-century Teutonic Castle in northern Poland.
Where Is The Malbork Castle Located?
The biggest castle in the world is located close to Poland’s coastal city in the north, Gdansk - a popular destination for both ships and cruises navigating the Baltic Sea. It is possible to tour the legendary Malbork Castle in just half a day since the drive to the castle takes less than sixty minutes.
This makes a trip to Malbork Castle popular amongst tourists, and some people even travel from Warsaw to enjoy this spectacle.
The Malbork Castle And Facts To Remember:
Completed sometime early during the 1400s by the German military order’s Teutonic Knights, Malbork Castle is spread over 52 acres and is known as the biggest brick structure to be built with human hands. Those Germans did not want anyone to mess around, for sure!
Originally called Mary’s Castle or Marienburg, the mammoth complex is made up of three different castles. It is a masterpiece of fortification and was actually used as the crusader’s headquarters. At some point, three thousand men were approximately housed in the barracks.
Malbork Castle served as a primary religious, economic, and military center for the Great Masters of the Order before things changed and the castle became home to Polish rulers.
During the Prussian period, the castle was underutilized severely as a warehouse space in spite of its envious location situated on the beautiful banks of the Nogat River - this marked the beginning of the castle’s demise.
The Malbork Castle History:
Unfortunately, the fortified Malbork Castle was not able to escape the horrors of the Second World War. In fact, in 1945, the castle was so badly damaged that it was simply reduced to more than the ruins. Thanks to a massive undertaking, it has been raised since the request and rebuilt painstakingly.
The largest castle in the world finally received the designation of a World Heritage Site from UNESCO in 1997, as well as being called one of the official historic monuments of Poland.
Currently, visitors are welcome to check out the castle grounds with multiple day-tripping from the cities of Gdańsk or Gdynia just to explore the wide courtyards and trek the long corridors branching off into exhibition halls decorated with ceramics, tapestries, and armor dating way back to the 1500s.
Of notable importance is the Great Refectory, which used to serve as a reception room that the Grand Masters used to entertain their guests. Make sure you look up, like way up - and fall in love with the three pillars that look just like trees, branching up to a beautiful vaulted ceiling.
History buffs would also like to pay plenty of attention to the artifact collections curated by the Malbork Castle Museum - this collection includes products, sculptures, and coins made from amber, a type of game still revered in this area to this day!
The Best Time To Visit Melbork Castle:
Now that you know which is the biggest castle in the world, what is the best time to visit this castle for the ULTIMATE experience?
The best time to visit the Melbork Castle is either right before the Castle closes or when it just opens. By ten in the morning, the line for tickets begins to grow, and then by noon, it becomes an hour's worth of wait or sometimes even more to obtain your tickets as well as an audio guide.
In order to avoid waiting around long ticket lines, it is always better to buy tickets to the castle online in advance. After you are done exploring the beautiful castle, don’t get your hopes up about finding taxis lined up right in front of the castle, ready to take visitors back to the railway station.
But that is not the case - be ready to walk to the train station once your visit ends. Or, it is also possible that you might be luckier than us!
If you reach the castle by 9 a.m., you will be done with your tour by 12:30 - it is the perfect time to go for lunch at the well-known Gothic Café. You will still have time to do some sightseeing in and around the area and have a few drinks at any of the outdoor Cafés!
How To Reach Melbork Castle?
Located on the borders of Malbork, a beautiful Polish town, the castle is about an hour from the charming city of Gdansk. It takes around 45 minutes from Gdansk to reach Malbork if you do decide to drive to the castle.
You can also consider taking a train from Gdansk. There are regular trains that run between Malbork and Gdansk. From Malbork, the castle is only about a ten to fifteen minutes walk. Just reach the main railway station called Gdansk Glowny and hop on the direct EIC trains if you want to reach Malbork in 30 minutes.
If you travel by train while going to the Malbork Castle, then check out the two options you have,
- Fast trains will cost you 55 PLN or $15.25 - it will take you around 30 minutes to reach the castle.
- Slow trains will cost you only 11 PLN or $3 - it will take you around 50 minutes to reach the castle.
Malbork Castle: The Highlights!
The Melbork Castle is the biggest castle in the world - it is a massive space, and it's nearly impossible to see the whole of the castle if you don’t have much time on your schedule. Assuming that you found out about the worlds biggest castle at the last moment, here are the highlights of the castle that you cannot miss.
There is a distinctively extensive armory in Melbork Castle, which happens to be the most interesting spot for the ones in military history. The rooms in the armory are full of historical artifacts and audio guides.
The chapel is one room in the biggest castle in the world that has not been restored completely. The room’s wall is decorated with traditional ancient paintings with the eye-catching altar of St Mary with Jesus as the main attraction.
You will fall in love with the gothic, round-shaped chandeliers that beautify the room.
3. Palace Of Grand Master:
The Melbork Castle was taken by the Prussians and the Polish royalty and different time periods when the Teutonic knights left. Each period left its distinctive identity on the castle, and a walk around the palace of the Grand Master is very similar to strolling through the pages of History.
4. Medieval Toilet And Tower:
The Medieval Toilet is yet another room for entertaining visitors. You will see ancient toilet seats and even toilet paper inside the toilet room. There is also a hole in the floor accompanied by a crate right on its top. The castle obviously has a nice view tower - from this tower, you can take photographs of the whole town.
5. Malbork Castle View From Nogat River:
If you want to grasp the castle’s size, one of the best spots to go would be the Nogat River. The Nogat River is located on the castle’s backside, which happens to be a fascinating spot. You can walk leisurely across the river while capturing the brick building from a distance with your camera.
The river’s view will help you understand just how massive the castle actually happens to be! There’s also a river cruise that you can opt for along the banks - plus, on the river’s other side, you will be able to see different outdoor cafés. It basically means that you have much to do near the castle once you are here!
Museums at the Malbork Castle have a wide collection of ceramics, paintings, amber, religious artwork, and furniture. Apart from that, you will also come across performances in medieval outfits, small souvenir shops, and restaurants.
Apart from all the places mentioned above, there is a secret small garden filled with roses, just down the little path in the castle. In the rose garden, you can enjoy the sunshine and relax on the lounge chairs.
Touring Malbork Castle:
Malbork Castle is the biggest castle in the world - it is naturally huge! So, naturally, you need to prepare yourself to do some amount of walking. In order to enter most of the rooms, you will need to walk up and down multiple staircases, while some of them are a bit narrow and steep.
The audio guide does a crazy job of directing you on your journey through the castle. Since it knows by GPS about your location, there is literally no searching for numbers on the wall or pushing buttons. After it is done helping you with the scoop at a single point, it will tell you how to reach the next spot. Once you reach there, it will give you the next piece of information.
There are three different parts of Melbork Castle,
- The high castle,
- The middle castle and
- The lower castle.
You will pass through the lower castle quickly and end up spending most of your time in the high and middle castles. Here are the highlights of each part!
1. Lower Castle:
The entrance gate is located at the lower castle. You will enter the castle through the entrance gate in the lower part of the castle. The drawbridge and walls are important fortifications of this castle.
2. Middle Castle:
From the lower part of the castle, you will be able to pass through a series of gates and bridges to enter the middle part of the castle. You can step out into a massive courtyard that is surrounded by a restaurant, a gift shop, and medieval buildings.
There are two hotspots here - the Amber Collection in the museum and the Grand Master’s Palace.
There is a small and sheltered courtyard located close to the rooms of the Grand Master’s Palace. The audio guide will then direct you here, but only a few people visit this place. However, we found it a nice break from the crowds - it was peaceful and quiet.
3. High Castle:
In order to visit the high castle, you will stroll around another drawbridge - the Malbork Castle is the oldest part of this castle. The courtyard is located at the high castle’s center - the well near the center was placed here only because the Teutonic Knights would have access to the water in case of a siege.
You will also come across the Chapter Room - it was used for conducting meetings and also for electing the next Grand Master.
For the best views of the castle, climb the Tower, Wiezna Glowna. This is missed easily because it is not even mentioned in the audio guide. On the high castle’s second floor, you will have to buy a ticket separately.
It will cost you only a little extra, and then you will just have to climb some staircases to reach the tower’s top, but you will be able to obtain a good aerial view over the whole castle.
And It’s A Wrap!
The biggest castle in the world is truly a wonder that you must check out when you spend some leisurely time in and around the European countryside. The Malbork Castle is steeped deep in history, and if that excites you, then why not? Feel free to share your thoughts, experiences, and stories in the comments below.