To experience the Route of Gothic castles is a real treat, not just for enthusiasts of mediaeval culture and chivalrous ages. Besides castles, the vehicles to take us to the times of the Grand Master will be the numerous historical reconstructions, knights’ tournaments, concerts of old music, workshops and fairs. The Pomeranian Voivodeship’s part of the Gothic Castles Route covers 5 sites. It is worth noting, however, that the Route continues into the Warmian-Masurian and Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeships, comprising a total of 12 structures.
Visiting the castles of Pomerania, which include the Castle in Malbork, considered the largest medieval castle complex in the world, and the world’s biggest man-made brick building, will certainly encourage you to delve deeper into the history of Gothic castles in Poland.
Castles on the route:
The Castle in Malbork – the greatest brick fortress in the world. The former Capital of the Teutonic Order, since 1997 inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Built in the 14th Century, besieged without success by Władysław Jagiełło after the Battle of Grunwald, and a seat of starosts after the Thirteen Years’ War, it is one of the most significant tourist attractions in the whole of Poland.
The Castle in Bytów – situated in the centre of Bytów, it is one of the last Teutonic castles, finished in 1405. Renovated in the 16th Century, it was destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War and the Polish-Swedish wars. It has been rebuilt and made available to tourists, featuring the West-Kashubian Museum, a hotel, a restaurant, and a tourist information office. Seated on a hill overlooking the town, the castle can be seen from far away, picturesquely located amid lush greenery.
The Castle in Gniew – built in the 14th Century by the Teutonic Knights on the left bank of the Vistula. It was damaged during the Thirteen Years’ War and the Swedish Wars, in the 17th Century it was renovated by the Starost of Gniew – Jan Sobieski, who was to become the King of Poland. The castle was burnt down in 1921 and is currently in the process of being reconstructed. It is located on the Castle Hill and also comprises the “Pałac Marysieńki” Hotel. The castle is famous for its rich tourist package, which features historical shows and famous knights’ tournaments and battle stagings. There is also a museum – a branch of the Archaelogical Museum in Gdańsk.
The Castle in Kwidzyn – the castle-cathedral complex, which is the seat of the Bishops of the Chapter of Pomerania established in 1243, was built in the first half of the 14th Century. It served this function until 1551, and was subsequently damaged and rebuilt. Most of the original form of the building was renovated and recreated and it currently houses a museum. The building complex also features the cathedral church of St. John Evangelist.
The Castle in Sztum – Located in the centre of Sztum, by the lake, it was a summer residence of the Grand Master. Some of the buildings and walls still stand, and the castle can be visited free of charge. It houses a Brotherhood of Knights.
The Castle in Człuchów – The Castle of today is only partial, consisting of some of the defence walls and the 46-metre tower. The Człuchów stronghold was built during the 14th Century by the Teutonic Order. The exact date of completion is unknown; it is assumed to be the year 1365.
The castles hold a treasure chest of attractions:
Historical reconstructions and tournaments:
Malbork: “The Siege of Malbork”, Magic Malbork
Bytów: “The Great Knights’ Tournament of the Pomeranian Griffin”
Gniew: “The Tournament for Jan III Sobieski’s Sword”, “Vivat Vasa! The Polish-Swedish Battle”
The Sztum-Barlewice Plein-Air Painting Workshops, “Living History Lessons” in Gniew