Starościńska 1, 82-200 Malbork, Poland
Malbork CastleWhen approaching the quiet town of Malbork, whether by road or rail, you’ll catch a glimpse of the towering, orange-red Malbork Castle—one of the most impressive strongholds of the Middle Ages and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. For the best view, however, continue on to the banks of the Nogat River, where you can see the solid brick structure reflecting in the clear-blue water. The fortress was built by the Order of the Teutonic Knights, who settled in Malbork in an effort to establish their own state on the surrounding lands. They named the area Marienburg, which later became Malbork, to honor Mary, the mother of Jesus. After the second Treaty of Toruń in 1466, which ended the 13-year war between the knights and the Poles, the castle passed into Polish hands and, for the next three centuries, served as the royal residence for Polish kings during their annual visits to Pomerania. It was half-destroyed during World War II but restored to its former glory after an extensive renovation. Today, it remains the largest brick castle in Europe. The fortress is a repository of myths and legends, making a guided tour particularly interesting. You can easily visit the castle on a day trip from Gdańsk, but there’s a hotel on the grounds should you want to spend the night and try to spot some of the resident ghosts.