Category: Castles

Category: Castles

Malbork Castle

Past home of The Teutonic Order

Malbork is a town in northern Poland which is popular because of the medieval Malbork Castle founded in the 13th century by the Knights of the Teutonic Order.

Largest Gothic fortress in Europe

The Teutonic Order was founded around the year 1190 in Palestine to crusade against the Muslims and pagans. In the early 14th century the Teutonic Knights moved their capital from Venice to Malbork on the Nogat River, which is now in northern Poland. The most significant trace of the their presence in the town is the imposing red brick castle from 1274 on the river bank, and it is the largest Gothic fortress in Europe.

Under continuous construction for nearly 230 years, the Malbork Castle complex is actually three castles nested in one another. A classic example of a medieval fortress, it is the world’s largest brick castle and one of the most impressive of its kind in Europe.

World War II

The castle was in the process of being restored when World War II broke out. During the war, the castle was over 50% destroyed. Restoration has been ongoing since the war. However, the main cathedral in the castle, fully restored just prior to the war and destroyed during the war, remains in its ruined state. The castle and its museum are listed as UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

Third Reich

With the rise of Adolf Hitler to power in the early 1930s the Nazis began using the site for annual pilgrimages by both the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls. It was the Teutonic Castle at Marienburg, Malbork that served as the blue print for the Order Castles of the Third Reich.

Defensive Walls

Malbork Castle is encircled by defensive walls with gates and towers. The Grand Master’s palace is believed to be the top achievement of the late-Gothic style. The representative summer refectory is the most attractive chamber in the castle interiors.

Useful links

The Malbork Castle Museum

Unesco

Dental tourism

Malbork castle is only 62 km from Gdansk where many high quality dental clinics are located. The easiest way to get to Malbork Castle from Gdansk is by train. From Gdansk Glowny, the main train station in Gdansk, it can take between 28 and 55 minutes to get to Malbork Castle, depending upon the type of train you choose.


Things to do in Krakow

Anyone who has spent even a few days in Krakow, Poland knows how much the city has to offer. Many tourists leave the city with the majority of her treasures left undiscovered. There simply isn’t enough time to cover them all. If you are in Krakow for a limited time, then below you will find our recommendations for things to do in Krakow and places that you should visit.

Ideas

  • Walk the entire Royal Way, from St. Florian’s Gate, down Florianska, across the Rynek Glowny, down Grodzka to the Wawel castle.
  • Listen to the Hejnal Mariacki (Trumpet Signal) while sipping a coffee in the Rynek Glowny. The signal is played live every full hour and is cut suddenly in memory of a trumpeter shot and killed by a Tatar arrow in 1241.
  • Walk around the Planty, a large park that surrounds the entire Old Town.
  • At Wawel Castle, lounge and take in the sun on the banks of the Vistula river, or take a cruise down the river. See the Dragon’s Lair and see the dragon breathe fire.
  • Early on Sunday, go shopping at the open air flea markets at Plac Nowy and Hala Targowa.
  • See a bit of Unesco World Heritage and do Auschwitz and Salt mine tours.

Town Hall Tower

Town Hall Tower is one of the main focal points of the Main Market Square in the Old Town district of Krakow. The Tower is the only remaining part of the old Town Hall demolished in 1820 as part of the city plan to open up the Main Square. Its cellars once housed a city prison with a Medieval torture chamber. Built of stone and brick at the end of the 13th century, the massive Gothic tower of the early Town Hall stands 70 meters tall and leans just 55 centimeters, the result of a wind storm in 1703. The top floor of the tower with an observation deck is open to visitors.

Churches of Krakow

The metropolitan city of Krakow, former capital of Poland, is known as the city of churches. The abundance of landmark, historic Roman Catholic churches along with the plenitude of monasteries and convents earned the city a countrywide reputation as the “Northern Rome” in the past. The churches of Krakow comprise over 120 Roman Catholic places of worship, of which over 60 were built in the 20th century. They remain the centers of religious life for the local population and are attended regularly.

Krakow Barbican

The Krakow Barbican is a fortified outpost and gateway leading into Krakow’s Old Town. It is one of the few remaining relics of the complex network of fortifications and defensive barriers that once encircled the city. It currently serves as a tourist attraction and venue for many multidisciplinary exhibitions. Based on Arabic rather than European defensive architecture, this masterpiece of medieval military engineering, with its circular fortress, was added to the city’s fortifications along the coronation route in the late 15th century.

Church of St. Casimir the Prince

The Church of St. Casimir the Prince with the adjacent Franciscan monastery and the catacombs is located at ul. Reformacka 4 in the Old Town district (Stare Miasto). Members of the Catholic Order of Franciscans known as “Little Brothers” arrived in Krakow in 1622 and settled at the outskirts of the town in Garbary (1625). Their church was completed in 1640 thanks to a donation from Zuzanna Amendówna, bequeathed around 1644 along with the miracle painting of Madonna displayed today at the side altar of the new church.

Krakow Old Town

Krakow Old Town is the central, historic district of Krakow, Poland. It is the most prominent example of an Old Town in the country, because for many centuries, Krakow was the royal capital of Poland, until Sigismund III Vasa relocated the court to Warsaw in 1596. Krakow’s historic center was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1978. Medieval Krakow was surrounded by a 1.9 mile (3 km) defensive wall complete with 46 towers and seven main entrances leading through them. The fortifications around the Old Town were erected over the course of two centuries. Today the Old Town attracts visitors from all over the World and should definitely be on your things to do in Krakow list.

Sukiennice

The Renaissance Sukiennice (Cloth Hall, Drapers’ Hall) in Krakow is one of the city’s most recognisable icons. It was once a major centre of international trade. Traveling merchants met there to discuss business and to barter. During its golden age in the 15th century, Sukiennice was the source of a variety of exotic imports from the East – spices, silk, leather and wax – while Krakow itself exported textiles, lead, and salt from the Wieliczka Salt Mine. The Hall has hosted countless distinguished guests over the centuries and is still used to entertain monarchs and dignitaries.

Main Market Square

The Main Market Square in Krakow is the main square of the Old Town and a principal urban space located at the center of the city. It dates back to the 13th century and at roughly 40,000sq m (430,000sq ft) it is the largest medieval town square in Europe. The center of the square is dominated by the cloth hall Sukiennice, rebuilt in 1555 in the Renaissance style, topped by a beautiful attic or Polish parapet decorated with carved masks.

Royal Road

The Royal Road or Royal Route in Krakow begins at the northern end of the medieval Old Town and continues south through the center of town towards the Wawel Hill, where the old kings’ residence, the Wawel Castle is located. The Royal Road passes some of the most prominent historic landmarks of Poland’s royal capital, providing suitable background to coronation processions and parades, the kings’ and princes’ receptions, foreign envoys and guests of distinction traveling from a far country to their destination at Wawel. The Royal Road starts outside the northern flank of the old city walls in the medieval suburb of Kleparz, now a central district of Krakow.

Kashubia

The Kashubians

Kashubia is a lake district in North Poland. It is surrounded by many hills made by Scandinavian glaciers.

Among larger cities, Gdynia contains the largest proportion of people declaring Kashubian origin. However, the biggest city of the Kashubia region is Gdańsk, the capital of the Pomeranian Voivodeship and the traditional capital of Kashubia.

The traditional occupations of Kashubians were agriculture and fishing; today these are joined by the service and hospitality industry, and agrotourism especially in the so-called Kashubian Switzerland.

Dental tourism in Kashubia

If you are coming to Gdansk for dental treatment, you will be in the Capital of Kashubia and therefore in the perfect location to explore the region.

Kashubians

Kashubians / Kaszubians, also called Kashubs, Kaszubians, Kassubians or Cassubians, are a West Slavic ethnic group. They speak Kashubian, classified either as a language or a Polish dialect.

The total number of Kashubians varies depending on one’s definition. A common estimate is that over 300,000 people in Poland are of the Kashubian ethnicity. The most extreme estimates are as low as 50,000 or as high as 500,000.

The language in Kashubia

In 2005, Kashubian was for the first time made an official subject on the Polish matura exam (roughly equivalent to the English A-Level and French Baccalaureat). Despite an initial uptake of only 23 students, this development was seen as an important step in the official recognition and establishment of the language.

Today, in some towns and villages in northern Poland, Kashubian is the second language spoken after Polish, and it is taught in regional schools.

Since 2005 Kashubian enjoys legal protection in Poland as an official regional language. It is the only tongue in Poland with this status. It was granted by an act of the Polish Parliament on January 6, 2005.

Old Kashubian culture has partially survived in architecture and folk crafts such as pottery, plaiting, embroidery, amber-working, sculpturing and glasspainting.

In 1858 Kashubians emigrated to Upper Canada and created the settlement of Wilno, in Renfrew County, Ontario, which still exists today.

Tourist Attractions

Kashubian Ethnographic Park: At Wdzydze Kiszewskie is an outdoor museum of traditional Kaszubian buildings, founded in 1906. The buildings were collected from the region, lovingly restored and furnished and set up as a folk village. Perhaps some of them were abandoned by the Kaszubs as they left to look for a new life overseas. In the area of 22 hectares there are approximately 40 buildings: 7 farmyards, 2 manor houses, 5 cottages, 4 nobleman houses, a village school with a classroom, a church, a sawmill, a windmill and a smithy.

Centre for Education and Regional Promotion in Szymbark: Danmar is a timber house builder and is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Kashubian culture. They have on exhibit new and old solid timber houses, even a church, a replica underground bunker as used by the partisans during WWII (Gryf Pomorski), an ‘upside down’ house and a restored steam train as used to transport people to the camps in Siberia. They have the longest plank of sawn wood in the world. It was cut from a Douglas fir measuring 36.83m and can be found in the Guinness Book of Records. Many Polish celebrities were involved in the sawing including Lech Walesa. It is well worth a visit.

Parowozownia (steam locomotive museum) at Koscierzyna: The open air railway museum at Koscierzyna displays a huge collection of steam locomotives and railway stock, dating back to 1929, and documents the development of the railways in the region. You are free to climb onto these huge engines and even ride on a working steam train!

Sand dunes at Leba: Nearby is the Smoldzino and Slowinski National Park, covering more than 18,000 hectares of dune, forest, water and peat environment, and sand-bars separating lakes Lebsko and Gardno from the sea. Here shifting dunes, which can reach a height up to 120m (400 feet), leave wilderness behind them; and one can feel as though in a real desert, Poland’s Sahara, with sand all the way to the horizon.

Hel Peninsula: The sandy Hel Peninsula, 35 km long, is a unique natural and landscape attraction and some call it the longest pier in Europe. The whole of the Hel Peninsula is incorporated into the Seaside Landscape Park (Nadmorski Park Krajobrazowy). On the Hel Peninsula there are the seaside resorts of Kuznica, Jurata and Jastarnia. At it’s furthest point is Hel, a well known fishing port, and the seat of a fishing museum, as well as a reminder of the last Polish bastion in the September 1939 fight with the Nazi invaders.

Malbork Castle: Malbork is the mightiest ot the Teutonic Knights’ fortresses and the capital of their independent state until returned to Poland at the end of the 15th century. It consists of the Upper Castle, the Middle Castle and the Palace of the Grand Master surrounded by common walls and a moat. The main gate has been reconstructed with its portcullis. Inside there is a museum with many artifacts and a great collection of amber jewelery and figures. You may visit either with a group or by yourself. If you want to take pictures, you need to buy a special ticket.

Bytów Castle: The castle was built by the Teutonic Knights at the end of the 14th century. It is now fully restored, part is a hotel, part is the Museum of Kashubia. Here you may see many examples of fine local art and embroidery.

Chmielno: The Museum of Kashubian Pottery of the Necel family in Chmielno is a showcase of the art of pottery making. Under a master’s expert eye, you can even make your own clay pot!

Kashubian Regional Museum in Kartuzy: will introduce you to some of the intricacies of Kashubian domestic, cultural and religious traditions. Kashubians are a very ancient ethnic group of Slavonic Balts. They resisted polonisation for centuries but regard themselves as Poles. After the partitions of Poland, despite systematic germanisation, the Kashubians maintained close ties with Poland. They did not lose their identity, historical heritage or original culture.

The Kaszubski Landscape Park: attracts nature lovers with its nine nature reserves featuring beautiful Pomeranian beech forests and rare specimens of flora and fauna. The Radunia River Gorge, with the river flowing like a mountain stream through a deep ravine, is one of the park’s most attractive views. The striking beauty of the area is the result of the activity of continental glaciers, which carved out deep valleys and created the rivers and lakes.

Ostrich Farm at Garczyno: It was the first Ostrich farm in Poland, founded in 1993. The ostrich count is about 100. You get the chance to taste the scrambled egg made from the ostrich egg, and you can have a ride on the back of camel. There is also another ostrich farm in the village of Wandowo.

Stone Rings Reserve in Wesior: It’s at the cemetery Gotów. There are about 160 graves and four stone circles dating from the beginning of AD. Supposedly, this place influences people and gives them unforgettable impressions.

Kwidzyn: It is worth visiting the 14th century castle and cathedral complex located there, as well as the Recreational Grounds of Milosna (a beautiful complex of buildings dating back from the early 20th century). Here you can also see a mini-Zoo for children. Moreover, while in Kwidzyn, you can enjoy the numerous town attractions, such as: restaurants, sala s, discos, etc.

Anthem Museum: About eight kilometres east of Kościerzyna is the small village of Będomin. There is the 18th century court which is surrounded with a park of three hundred years old linden and oaks. This court has belonged to Józef Wybicki’s family for many years. The museum has been open since 1798, and it’s the only Anthem Museum in the world.

Sianowo: features a wooden church built in 1816.

Wiezyca: a viewing tower offering fantastic views and three ski slopes.

Szymbark: where you can enjoy horse and cart rides and where sleigh rides are organised (snow permitting!)

Golubie: very famous for its beautiful botanical gardens.


Castles in Poland

Castles, forts & palaces

Poland is home to an enormous number of castles, Teutonic fortresses, Silesian strongholds, palaces & fortified manor houses. Unfortunately many of the great castles in Poland are in ruins or have been transformed into palaces & hotels; however there are still many left intact offering tourists a unique window into the history of Poland, it’s culture & heritage.

The Teutonic Knights

The Teutonic Knights were responsible for building the most remarkable castles in Poland and these are situated in the North East of the country.

Malbork Castle is the largest surviving Medieval castle in Europe and should be on your list of castles to visit. Other castles built by the Teutonic Knights and worth a visit are in Lidzbark Warminski and Kwidzyn.

Nicolaus Copernicus lived at Lidzbark Warminski castle for several years, and it is believed he wrote part of his De revolutionibus orbium coelestium there.

Kwidzyn contains the partially-ruined 14th century Brick Gothic Ordensburg castle of the Teutonic Order. Connected to the castle to the east is a large cathedral (built 1343-1384) containing the tombs of the bishops as well those of three Grand Masters of the Teutonic Knights. The literally outstanding feature of the castle is a sewer tower which is connected to it by a bridge. The tower used to be placed at the river which has changed its course since, leaving it on dry land.

The Kings of Poland

The Kings of Poland all resided within either Wawel Castle in Krakow or the Royal Castle in Warsaw and both of these castles are popular tourist attractions.

Eagles’ Nest fortification

Between Czestochowa and Krakow, many castles were built in the Middle Ages as part of a great Eagles’ Nest fortification; however were destroyed during the Swedish Deluge of the 1650s.

The most popular ruins in this area are the castles of Bobolice, Bolków, Olsztyn, Mirow & Ogrodzieniec. Pieskowa Skala is the only one well-preserved castle from the whole Eagles’ Nest fortification system.

Other recommended castles are located in Baranow Sandomierski, Ksiaz, Niedzica, Goluchow and ruined castle in Krzysztopor in Ujazd village.