May 20, 2013
0651 POLAND (Pomerania) - Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork (UNESCO WHS)
This castle (Ordensburg Marienburg in German, that means Mary's Castle), built by the Teutonic Knights after the conquest of Old Prussia on the southeastern bank of the river Nogat, is the largest castle in the world by surface area, and the largest brick building in Europe. The Teutonic Order (on its full name Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem) had been created in Acre (present-day Israel), but when this stronghold fell to Arabs, it moved its headquarters to Venice, and then in Poland. The construction of the castle lasted until around 1300, and it became more important in the aftermath of the conquest of Gdańsk (Danzig) and Pomerania (1308), becoming the Order's administrative centre.
The castle was expanded several times, becoming the largest fortified Gothic building in Europe. Actually it consists of three separate castles - the High, Middle and Lower Castles, separated by multiple dry moats and towers, and in its golden period housed approximately 3,000 "brothers in arms". In 1410, after the Order's defeat by the armies of Władysław II Jagiełło and Vytautas the Great at the Battle of Grunwald, the castle was besieged, and the town that grew around it was razed.
In 1466 both castle and town became part of Royal Prussia, and it served as one of the Polish royal residences until the First Partition of Poland (1772). After the Napoleonic wars it became a symbol of Prussian history and national consciousness, and the Nazis used it as a destination for annual pilgrimages of both the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls. In 1945 more than half the castle was destroyed, but was mostly reconstructed after the WWII.
It is worth noting that the Teutonic Order survived, in 1929 Pope Pius XII transforming it into a solely spiritual community. Today, the Order exists in Austria, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belgium and Holland, and the headquarters of the Grand Master is located in Vienna. Because "is the most complete and elaborate example of the Gothic brick castle complex in the characteristic and unique style of the Teutonic Order, which evolved independently from the contemporary castles of western Europe and the Near East", Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork was included among UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997.
About the stamps
The first three stamps on left, depicting All Saints Collegiate Church in Sieradz and the Town Hall & church archway in Sandomierz, are part of the series Polish Cities, about which I wrote here.
The last one is part of the series Smile of the World in Photography of Elżbieta Dzikowska (a Polish art historian, sinologist, explorer, director and operator of documentary films, the author of many books, television programs, radio broadcasts, articles and exhibitions of contemporary art). Issued on 2011, this series contains the following six stamps:
• Burmese monk from Myanmar (1,95 PLN)
• Ethiopian girl (1,95 PLN) - it's on this postcard
• Burmese girl (2,40 PLN)
• Palestinian with a camel (2,40 PLN)
• Nepalese woman from Kathmandu (3,00 PLN)
• Peruvian indian woman (3,00 PLN)
Malbork Castle - Wikipedia
Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork - UNESCO official website
The Malbork Castle Museum - official website
Smile of the world in photography of Elżbieta Dzikowska - Stamp Encyclopaedia Poland
sender: Magda (direct swap)
sent from Kraków (Lesser Poland / Poland), on 06.06.2012
photo: Bogumila Piazza