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GoPoland!: Where to Go: Malbork: the Castle

Malbork Castle In the days gone by, the bigger the fortress, the more powerful those fortified within. The Castle at Malbork makes this point more clearly than most: immense comes to mind, or absolutely huge, or simply gargantuan, when one seeks to convey just exactly how large the castle is. Built over several centuries, the initial castle was started in 1274 when the Teutonic Knights found a new home in Poland. Invited in to quell the pagan tribes in the region, the Knights made themselves welcome for the better part of the next two centuries. In fact, they felt so at home they left of quelling and took up conquering: the pagan tribes dwindled as these well equipped soldier monks rode through the countryside, easily mastering with their horses, swords, and armour those lacking such military advantages.

Grunwald Knight But as with all successful power grabs, eventually someone grabs back. Following several unsuccessful attempts to rid Poland of the Knights, a coalition of interested parties gathered together and triumphed at the Battle of Grunwald in 1410. While the Knights remained in Poland for a few decades longer, their might waned. In the second half of the 15th century, they vacated their impenetrable stronghold after selling it to the Czechs who then turned around and sold it to the Poles.

Malbork Castle Back in Polish hands for a few centuries, the Castle welcomed its kings as they travelled between the port city of Danzig and Warsaw. From a royal stopover, the Castle degenerated into a POW camp during WWII but has happily moved on to better times since. Now a museum, it welcomes thousands of tourists annually who cannot but gawk at this powerful reminder of what one can do with brick and mortar.

Click here for a map of the town of Malbork.

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