Teutonic Order and spread of Christianity
Teutonic Order conquered this part of territory at end of 13th century and started to build big fortress, that later was called as capital of this Order, that was a home of “givers of Christianity and Holy Cross”.
Talking about history, there are a few opinions about work of Teutonic Order. Firstly, Christianized part of Europe was thinking that Christianity brings education, true religion, honor and so on – actually just good, positive things.
Other side, Christianity expanded during the wars, intervention to other nations, crusades. Firstly, crusades were made to Islam land, Jerusalem, later, after building Malbork castle, to Baltic tribes. In some ways there are evidence that Teutonic order just wanted to grab some lands and valuables, but officially it was declared as “spread of Christianity”.
The three parts of the castle
A panoramic view of the Castle from the west is the best seen from the road just across the River Nogat.
You can see all 3 main parts of the huge castle, from the left (enlarge the picture): the Lower Castle (outside the Castle Museum and outside the preserved walls), the Middle Castle and the High Castle.
History or myth ?
When you visit this big castle and see towers your imagination is working:
Once upon a time in a land called Marlbork, there lived a beautiful Princess. None was so fair or as lovely as she. Because of this, her father, the King, placed her in a tower. A tower so vast that none could ever hope to topple it...
Lithuanian Duke Kestutis and Malbork castle
At first, how Lithuania is associated with Teutonic Order? The answer is simple – from 13th to 15th century Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Teutonic Order was a biggest enemy, having their “front line” near Nemunas River and fighting for land and religion.
True story, based on medieval chronicles tells that at first half of 14th century Teutonic Order had a campaign against Great Duchy of Lithuania and entered the region of Samogitia (Lith. Zemaitija). They burned some wooden castles and took captives. One of them was still child, Alfas, he was presented to Malbork castle and was learned to German culture, language to work as a servant. It is said, that he almost forgot his roots and his parents, who were killed at battle.
Later Alfas was taken to look after prisoners in Malbork castle. A few decades later in another campaign (1361-1362), Lithuanian Duke Kestutis was caught by crusaders, they took him to Malbork castle, as he was one of two persons to organize resistance against Teutonic Order (other was Duke Algirdas, brother of Kestutis, but he was more responsible for intervention into Slavic Russian lands).
Alfas and Kestutis met each other near prison cell; Duke Kestutis got to know his Lithuanian roots and helped him to remember about his past (it is still discussed why crusaders gave possibility for Alfas to look after Kestutis, maybe they forgot his roots?) At escape story the most important thing was about prison cell. Duke Kestutis started to remove bricks from cell’s ground, as it was not so solid (split), and Alfas took brick after brick secretly to put somewhere outside. Ground place with removed bricks was always hidden by such items as carpet, table. Later, at one night, Alfas organized an escape with prepared horses, with clothes of crusaders to put on and some planned places to hide and sleep. At first Duke Kestutis run to Poles land, to his relatives, later – back to Trakai.
Kestutis got back to his Duchy after half year of imprisonment, but later (in 1382) history tells that he was killed at castle of Krevo (Belarus nowadays). Murder was organized by upcoming King of Poland and Great Duke of Lithuania Jogaila (he was Lithuanian as well, nephew of Kestutis). Conflict between them was due to shared rule of country and one treaty that was made without Kestutis agreement.
Buy a ticket
Northeast of the entrance there is this small building as on my picture. It's KASA = ticket office. So, don't forget to find it and buy your tickets before you go inside the castle. Btw you are NOT allowed to enter the castle without a guide (Polish speaking guide is included in the price of your ticket).
More in English, German and Polish:
THE WORLD'S BIGGEST MEDIEVAL CASTLE!