Starościńska 1, 82-200 Malbork, Poland
The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork is the largest castle in the world by surface area, and the largest brick building in Europe. It was built in Prussia by the Teutonic Knights, a German Roman Catholic religious order of crusaders, in a form of an Ordensburg fortress. The order named it Marienburg (Mary’s Castle). The town which grew around it was also named Marienburg.
The castle was built by the Teutonic Order after the conquest of Old Prussia. Its main purpose was to strengthen their own control of the area following the Order’s 1274 suppression of the Great Prussia Uprising of the Baltic Tribes. No contemporary documents survive relating to its construction, so instead the castle’s phases have been worked out through the study of architecture and the Order’s administrative records and later histories. The work lasted until around 1300, under the auspices of Commander Heinrich von Wilnowe. The castle is located on the southeastern bank of the river Nogat. It was named Marienburg after Mary, patron saint of the religious Order. The Order had been created in Acre (present-day Israel). When this last stronghold of the Crusades fell to Muslim Arabs, the Order moved its headquarters to Venice before arriving in Poland.
In 1466 both castle and town became part of Royal Prussia, a province of Poland. It served as one of the several Polish royal residences, fulfilling this function until the Partitions of Poland in 1772. During this period the Tall Castle served as the castle’s supply storehouse, while the Great Refectory was a place for balls, feasts, and other royal events.
At the conclusion of the war, the city of Marienburg (Malbork) and castle became again a part of Poland. The castle has been mostly reconstructed, with restoration ongoing since 1962 following a fire in 1959 which caused further damage. The main cathedral in the castle, restored just before World War II and then destroyed in battle, is still in ruins. Nevertheless, Malbork Castle remains the largest brick building in Europe.