We took a train to Malbork Castle which is the headquarters of the Teutonic Knights.
Teutonic Knights were a religious and military order involved in the Crusades to take back Jerusalem and holy relics. These German Catholics wore black crosses on their chests and white robes. Only men lived here and took vows of poverty, chasity and obedience.
This castle of the Teutonic Knights was all about security as they had three water moats and one dry moat if the castle was under seige and they needed to bring in the livestock. Water for the moats ran from the lake that was higher; then the water ran through the castle and then to the nearby river below.
Medival castles have lots of open space which serves as a defense. The walls were four feet thick and the entrance had multiple kill zones. At the end was a murder hole to pour boiling liquids on intruders. They had three locks on the treasury with keys held by three different people.
There are three castles. The low castle for the servants, the middle castle for the knights, and the high castle (the oldest) for the ordained leadership. Malbork Castle is the largest brick castle (and structure) in the world with 60 million bricks.
Our tour guide gave us a tour of the armory. We saw one handed swords, two handed swords, crossbows, shields, and armor. European armor was so heavy that if the knight was knocked off his horse, he could not get up. Asian armor was cooler and lighter.
Polish knights wore winged hussars for parades or while in full gallop in wartime. In battle on galloping horses, the feathers begun to make a mourning and then shrieking sound as the wind tore through them. The loud weird sounds frightened the opposition so badly that they ran away. The horses reared and whinied and were impossible to control. So all would be in confusion by the time that the Polish Army reached the battle line.
In WWII, the castle was 50% destroyed by Russian bombs in 1945. The Russians also took many paintings, items and furniture. It has taken 40 years to reconstruct 90% of the compound. The cathedral was just completed last year.
At one point, Malbork Castle was used as a summer camp for Hitler Youth. You can find some copyrighted photos online. I never went to a camp like this!
How exciting to be in Poland during the International Organ Music Festival which takes place on Tuesdays and Fridays in the month of July and August in the Oliwa Cathedral.
Oliwa is one of the tri-cities which includes Gdansk and Sopot. The cathedral was located at the edge of a charming park. Can you imagine trimming this hedge?
Our featured organist is Giampaolo Di Rosa. He played Bach, Schumann and improvised on the magnificent 18th century organ.
It was fantastic and we can honestly say that he pulled out all the stops!!
We have a late night walk home and stumbled upon one of the many Gdansk clubs! Ha