Malbork Castle is just about an hour outside of Gdansk, Poland. I decided to make a trip out to see the castle, and hopped onto the first train. Now, the train ride itself was somewhat terrifying for me. There were no seats available, so there were a whole group of us standing in the area between two cars. This in itself was not scary, however, the fact that I was somewhat wedged against the door f the train, and a large Polish guy broke the emergency door open handle so he could prop the door part way open, and get some air into the otherwise insufferably hot train car was terrifying. The whole trip, I thought the door was going to open, and I was going to tumble out of the train.
Luckily, I made it to Malbork.
Now, I am geographically challenged. I can not navigate. I can’t tell directions. I get lost a lot. So I was sort of dismayed that when the train dropped us off, there was no castle in sight. I would have to find the castle. Not my strong suit. I decided to take the road with the nice sidewalk. I figured since the castle was the biggest tourist draw in the area, they would make it as easy as possible to find. (Not by posting signs, mind you… at least not that I saw) The road took me into a cute little town.
I decided the best option was to just continue through the town. And then, surprise of all surprises- I found the castle! On my first try! Without getting lost or taking a wrong turn. Just intuitively.
There weren’t many people around when I got to the castle, but they were all out of audio guides. Normally, I wouldn’t care, because I’ve never been a big fan of audio guides, however in this instance an audio guide would have been very useful. The map I had was unhelpful at best. Most things were not labeled, and it only showed the ground floor. Undaunted, however, I entered the castle, through the gate.
Well, gates… because Malbork had five gates. Five. Good luck trying to attack this place. And that was only into the lower castle area… more gates and a moat were also protecting the upper castle. I suppose, when you live in a castle, you can never really be too careful.
Immediately upon entering the lower castle area, I was confronted with some art that really had me a bit confused. It was a whole collection of larger than life statues of men. With boxes around their heads…
Also, they had cannons aimed at them…
This was the first time I thought to myself, ‘gee, I wish I had an audio guide.’ It would not be the last. It wasn’t even fifteen minutes later when I noticed the second thing that I thought was rather inexplicable…
I don’t know why they were there. Perhaps the castle was at one point protected by a band of ninjas…
The castle was very large, and some things about it were just gorgeous. However, I felt it had been too renovated. The whole castle looked good as new, and it took away from any authenticity you would have felt. Until I stumbled into the one room that hadn’t been renovated yet. It was my favorite part of the castle, because for once you could see the history.
The one thing I really did love about the castle was its windows. It had fabulous windows.
The castle was really nice though, and all in all I had a great afternoon there. But all too soon it was time to turn back and head back to the train station to go back to Gdansk.