< Previous Day | Next Day > 13 October 1999, Wednesday
1999 Photographs from Malbork | Poland Site Index | Home
I woke in the morning and purchased the earliest ticket available to enter the grounds of the castle. I may have been the first visitor of the day to cross through the gate. As I entered and explored the initial spaces of the building, I could only think of how difficult it would have been to successfully complete an assault this place. The walls are massive, thick and tall. If the bridge is pulled away, there is no way to access the main door. Arrows, stones and oil could be dropped on me from almost anyplace. If I fell into a moat, whether it was dry or filled with water, there would be no place to go for help or exit. Life or death would be at the whim of those on the walls above.
Walking through the grounds, the buildings have a militaristic simplicity and beauty. The masses are simple and direct forms of brick masonry topped by steeply pitched tile roofs. Patterns in the bond pattern of the brick vary from building to building and the slate roofs contain accents in shades of green and red. Sometimes these slates have a distinct pattern or arrangement, sometimes they are random. Most of the doors are constructed of large planks of hardwood and several of the key exterior defensive doors are clad in iron, held in place by a dense array of iron studs. All of the hardware is heavy iron. All the doors close with a distinctive medieval "thud!"
Moving farther into the heart of the castle, there is a central cloister and water well. The well is covered by an sextagonal slate roof and capped with an elegant sculpture of a pelican and its nest. At the arcade of the cloister, tiny sculptures are carved into the brick at the base of each arch depicting various individuals in the life of the castle: children and adults, men and women, royalty, holy men and commoners are all illustrated. It is a portrait of castle life in individual sculptures no larger than a fingertip.
Several of the primary interior spaces have also been restored and are open to the public for viewing. These are the royal corridors, gathering rooms and secondary spaces. Visitors can also examine the furnace and integrated, below-floor air shafts that sent heat through the building. Other accessible areas include grave sites and an extensive medieval armor collection. As I said before, this is an impressive site which underwent an extensive reconstruction effort following the war and extending into the 1980s.
In the early afternoon, I headed off for the train station for the journey to Torun. When I arrived at the next hotel, I had my first email access in several days and Tomek Wolender had sent a message asking me to call him as soon as possible. As I discovered, he arranged a meeting for me with a professor at Torun University and a local architect. We were scheduled to meet the next morning. At around 8:00pm, I headed out to find some food and explore a few parts of the city during the night. I had dinner in a basement pizzeria, a cool student hang-out.
< Previous Day | Next Day > 1999 Photographs from Malbork | Poland Site Index | Home