Monday, 1 August 2016
After the constant reminder of the ravages of World War II in Warsaw, I thought it might be nice to discover a Teutonic “Knight in Shining Armour” in our next stop in Malbork. This spectacular fortress is the largest brick castle in Europe. It was developed in the 14th century by German military monks who carried out their crusades against the pagan Prussians on the south Baltic coast. You can almost hear the clashing drama of Christianity in the late Middle Ages.
Despite my vivid imagination, I did not find a looming Knight, but once again, I discovered the brutality of the second World War. The German name was Marienberg and with the rise of Adolf Hitler, the Nazis had used the castle as a destination for annual pilgrimages of both the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls. It also served as a blueprint for the “Order Castles of the Third Reich” built under Hitler’s reign. But by 1945, more than half the castle was destroyed as the Germans tried in vain to fight off the appoaching Red Army.
At the conclusion of the war, the city of Marienburg (now 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. It has been in a state of disrepair until a new restoration was completed this year in April. It’s rennovation is the source of much pride and the result is a complete “Wow!”
Whoever the decorator was, I love the color schematic….
Our Guide Marta looks wistfully out the window during our very long tour on an extremely hot day. The humidity was at 96 percent!
A 400 pound “cannon ball” deployed with the use of a giant sling shot. (Honestly!)
Another form of medieval warfare – the looming black hole at the top of the photo below was where unseen arrows, spears and even cauldrons of boiling hot oil could be launched at the heads unsuspecting intruders….
The protection of gargoyles….
A clever medieval toilet system ~ The Tower below provided the ultimate in defense but also provided a unique form of sanitation. It was built on arcades so the water carrying sewage could flow under it. A grated hole in the floor shows the sheer height of the tower which kept the sewage and impending odors as far away from the castle as possible…..
The “Loo” or der Klo as the Germans might say. Primitve though it seems, it all flowed down several meters from the Towers on the outside of the castle ramparts. The preferred choice of the Charmin was cabbage leaves…