Visiting hours today: 9:00 - 16:00

History of the Castle

Years 1457 – 1772

Polish times

During the Thirteen Years’ War, in June 1457, Malbork was occupied by the Polish army. The management of the castle rested in the hands of the royal starost and the burgrave subordinate to him. Numerous 16th – 18th century inspections of the building carried out by court officials show that the functions of its individual parts have changed. The High Castle ceased to be a monastery and became the economic base of the fortress. Tar, salt, beer, hops and other food products were stored here. The military crew and clerical staff lived in the Middle Castle. The outer bailey was adapted for strictly military purposes. Cannons, bullets and other small arms were stored in Karwan. In towers and towers – barrels with gunpowder and saltpeter. The castle complex, built and modernized by the Teutonic Knights, began to be neglected in Polish times. The maintenance of such a large defensive complex was associated with huge costs, which were constantly lacking funds. This is mentioned in the above-mentioned inspections. Already in one of the first (1565) there is a mention of the outline of the northern wall of the Great Refectory. This defect was the beginning of the problem, the solution of which was completed in the current years. At the beginning of the 17th century, some of the rooms of the Palace of the Grand Masters were adapted into royal apartments. The Swedish wars did not cause major losses within the main stronghold. Serious damage, however, was the accidental arson of the roofs of the High Castle in May 1644. The medieval cloisters were also destroyed at that time. They were rebuilt soon, but in much different, baroque forms. In 1647 a new roof was erected over the church. Restoration took a long time. This led to the collapse of the vaults in the south wing and the Chapter House in 1675. Only in the middle of the 18th century, on the order of King August II, new roofs were laid on the High Castle, and the main tower was crowned with a cupola with a lantern. In the years 1756-67, between the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Middle Castle, on the site of the former Klesza Tower, a large building of the Jesuit college was built. This order took care of the castle church in the years 1652-1772. Construction works in the Middle Castle at the end of the 17th and the first half of the 18th century were limited to the current renovation of the rooms of the northern wing for the needs of the county office, and the eastern wing for the economy of Malbork.

Prussian times

In September 1772, Malbork is occupied by the Prussian army. They are quartered at the High Castle, in the barracks of the Polish infantry regiment, which were set up here in 1737-44. They were not large enough, so they soon began to expand. The cloisters were bricked up and a gate was carved in the southern wing (towards the town). In the Middle Castle, in the Great Refectory, a horse drill room was arranged: the main portal was enlarged, the ceramic floor was removed, and some of the windows were bricked up. In the 1980s, a cotton spinning mill, apartments for weavers and river skippers appeared in the Grand Masters’ Palace. It was the beginning of nearly twenty years of construction and demolition work at the castle. They were continued despite the fact that in 1799 an album with views of Malbork was published by three Fryderyk artists: Gilli (drawings), Frick (engravings) and Rabe (plans). The historical introduction was written by Konrad Levezow. The intention of the authors was to sensitize the public to the beauty of the historic fortress and to persuade the relevant authorities to stop its demolition. Despite this, in the same year, a cabinet order of King Frederick William III was issued, recommending the creation of military warehouses from the High Castle. Works started in 1801 completely changed the external shape of the building. All medieval window openings (except the church) were bricked up and others were carved out, arranged according to the new divisions of the interior. The external elevations were plastered and the whole was covered with a new low roof. The remnants of the medieval vaults and internal walls were demolished and replaced with wooden ceilings. The same was done in the Middle Castle, where the eastern wing was transformed into a granary. An article by a Königsberg student, Max von Schenkendorf, which appeared in one of the Berlin newspapers in 1803, had a breakthrough significance for the castle at that time. The author – a young romantic poet – strongly protested against the demolition of a medieval monument. This appeal resulted in the preparation of a new cabinet order the following year prohibiting further demolition of the castle.


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