|Knight Tracking through Prussia (page 2)|
for castle accommodation
The castles verifiable history is littered with intriguing legends turning their otherwise inert stone walls into tales alive with mystery and passion. The old fortified castle of Dzialdowo is one of many with a story of love, torture and betrayal. Constructed in 1309, the castle fell into the hands of one vicious and widely disliked knight and his family. As the legend goes, a Prussian military leader and talented musician was imprisoned there with his violin as his only distraction. The beautiful melodies drifting up from the dungeon inspired the love of the knights sister, and the two secretly planned their escape together. But the couple was betrayed and their plans ruined by the furious knight who then forced the sisters marriage to a more suitable partner. The prisoner/musician was instructed to play at the matrimonial ceremony and when he refused was killed before her eyes. She is said to have died of grief only a short time later and still wanders the castle waiting in vain for the carriage that would have carried the lovers to safety.
To give appropriate attention to all the castles in the small region would require volumes and could be spread out over a timeframe impossible for the average visitor, even though it covers an area about the size of Vermont. On my journey I explored both the major tourist must-sees as well as some far off-the-beaten-path treasures and it was in combining these two extremes that the aura of the region revealed the striking similarity of the Teutonic architectural style and their deep influence in both urban and rural life.
The castle at Malbork
Photos by Mishelle Shepard
Not far from Gdansk, and also part of the main tourist trail, is the master of all the Teutonic strongholds, Malbork. The town was partly destroyed by the Soviets and has a drab, colorless feel to it, but the stronghold itself covers over 80 acres, and is an amazing site to behold. One of the largest of its kind in the world, the castle became the new headquarters of the Teutonic Order in 1309 and the oldest section is the High Castle, which was begun in about 1270. The castle museum is a great place not only for history buffs with its extensive collection of old weapons, medieval sculpture, stained-glass windows, china and pottery, but also for esthetic seekers of priceless art. Its collection of the most famous stone in the region, amber, is worth a look.
Three castles of Olsztyn