Malbork


The Castle in Malbork (German: Die Marienburg, Polish: Zamek w Malborku) was built in Prussia by the Teutonic Order as an Ordensburg. The Order named it Marienburg, literally "Mary's Castle". The town which grew around it was also named Marienburg, but since 1945 it is again, after 173 years, part of Poland and known as Malbork.

The castle is a classic example of a medieval fortress, and is the world's largest brick gothic castle. UNESCO listed the castle and its museum as World Heritage Sites in December 1997 as Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork. It is one of two World Heritage Sites in the region with origins in the Teutonic Order. The other is the Medieval Town of Torun, founded in 1231 as the site of the castle Thorn (Torun).
The castle was founded in 1274 by the Teutonic Order during their government of Prussia and is located on the Southeastern bank of the river Nogat. It was named Marienburg after the Virgin Mary, patron saint of the Order.

The Order had been based in Acre, but when this last stronghold of the Crusades fell, the Order had to move its headquarters to Venice. In 1309, in the wake of both the papal persecution of the Knights Templar as well as the Teutonic takeover of Danzig, the Order under Siegfried von Feuchtwangen moved its headquarters into the Prussian part of their monastic state. They chose the Marienburg, conveniently located on the Nogat, in the Vistula Delta, which allows access by ship.

The castle was expanded several time to host the growing number of Knights, and became the largest fortified Gothic building in Europe, featuring several sections and walls. It consists of three separate sections - the High, Middle and Lower Castles, separated by multiple dry moats and towers. The castle once housed approximately 3,000 "brothers in arms", and the outermost castle walls enclose 52 acres (210,000 m²), four times larger than the enclosed space of Windsor Castle.

The favourable position of the castle on the river Nogat and its relatively flat surrounding allowed for easy access by barges and trading ships, from the Vistula and the Baltic Sea. During their governance, the Teutonic Knights collected river tolls on passing ships, as did other castles along the rivers, imposing a monopoly on the trade of amber. When the city became a member of the Hanseatic League, many Hanseatic meetings were held at Marienburg castle

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