Saturday, March 14, 2009

And the world's largest castle is...

A lot of guide books present Prague Castle as the largest castle in the world. England claims the record for Windsor Castle and Wikipedia declares Malbork the winner. So where is the truth?

The first question is, what the word largest mean. A floor area was probably measured in Windsor and Prague, but it doesn't make sense for Malbork or any other castle that is not so well preserved. Moreover I have not detailed blueprints of all large castles, so I can't compare the floor area. That's why I picked another method.

I've outlined an area enclosed by castle walls of nine castles in Google Maps. Here is the user map with all nine shapes. Then I've used the KML Area Calculator to calculate the size. And this is the top five list:

  1. Malbork (Poland) -- Frommers claims nearly 52 acres (210,437 square metres). Polish Wikipedia states a cubic capacity of 250,000 m3 and no area, what is rather strange. The area drawn by me is 143,591 square metres large -- enough to declare Malbork the largest castle of the world.
  2. Prague Castle (Czech Republic) is the largest castle in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Sources varies between 72,762 and 74,100 square metres (17.98 and 18.31 acres). The result of my calculation is only 66,761 square metres.
  3. Burghausen (Germany) is a surprising number 3. With its length of 1,034 metres it is widely known to be the longest European castle, but its area is not so small as well -- according to my calculation it totals 56,810 square metres, what is almost 2,000 metres more than Windsor Castle.
  4. Windsor Castle (England, UK) is considered the largest inhabited castle in the world by many sources. Its floor area is approximately 484,000 square feet (44,965 square metres) according to Wikipedia. Another sources claim 13 acres (52,609 square metres), what is closer to my finding: 54,835 square metres. And because Prague castle is inhabited as well, Windsor is hardly the largest one.
  5. Festung Hohensalzburg or Salzburg Castle (Austria) is with a length of 250 metres and a width of 150 metres definitely one of the biggest medieval castles in Europe, but my calculation shows it is not the largest one. Its area has 54,523 square metres.

I'm including another four castles just for reference. They are not serious competitors except Moscow Kremlin, which is usually not considered a real castle though.

  • Spišský hrad (Slovakia) -- Slovaks often claim Spissky Hrad is one of the biggest castles in Central Europe, so I've checked it out too. The result is 49,485 square metres and the number 6 in my list.
  • Himeji Castle (Japan) -- can't be Asian castles bigger than European ones? I've outlined the area of the largest Japanes castle Himeji and it has 41,468 square metres only.
  • Kenilworth Castle (England, UK) was one of the candidates too, but its 32,673 square metres can't compete with another ones.
  • Moscow Kremlin (Russia) is included just for comparison, because it is rather a citadel than a castle, however its size is definitely huge -- 269,568 square metres, almost twice as large as Malbork and five times larger than Windsor Castle.

And finally the top five castles' shapes -- all in the same scale for easier comparison and linking to the particular place on Google Maps. If you want to check out the real location of the walls, I recommend to switch the map view to Satellite.

Malbork

Area: 143,591 sq. m
Perimeter: 1,737 m
Prague

Area: 66,761 sq. m
Perimeter: 1,633 m
Burghausen

Area: 56,810 sq. m
Perimeter: 2,481 m
Windsor

Area: 54,835 sq. m
Perimeter: 1,371 m
Hohensalzburg

Area: 54,523 sq. m
Perimeter: 1,595 m
Moscow Kremlin

Area: 269,568 sq. m
Perimeter: 2,517 m

10 comments:

Robin said...

Great post! I've searched for some other large castles using your method and tough I didn't find a bigger castle than Malbork I did found a new number 2.

Anonymous said...

and what about Desert Castle(Slovakia - Zvolen)? There is something of history:
Zvolen has lived for years under the auspices of the Castle, today known as the Deserted Castle, which was the seat of the royal “komitat”, that is a territory stretching in the area of the whole today’s Central Slovakia. Castle was divided into the Upper and Lower Castle and its area was over 7 hectares

Edujoser said...

Great blog.
The largest castle in the world (extension, square metres) is Dover Castle.
Nor Salzburg, nor Windsor (Windsor is the largest INHABITED castle, that tends to mislead), nor Malbork are the largest castle.

I know it first hand as I´ve visit all of them.

And if you wish to know wich is the largest fortification in the world (apart from Great Wall of China wich is not an enclosure) try with Ranikot Fort in Pakistan.

Regards.

petr said...

I see a problem with your planning. When calculating the total area covered by malbork you included surrounding gardens to count towards the total area of the castle grounds. You failed to do so for prague castle. Another thing that needs to be taken into account is the ratio of building to grounds. Malbork property is large yes but limited on structure compared to Prague castle.

Lubos Valt said...

Hello Marek,
nice job. However, plese, check your map for the Spis Castle... The castle is about two kilometers north from your location - you can find the mark on Google maps if you look better.
Maybe the area will be smaller than the one you have already calculated :(. But probably it is the BIGGEST RUINED CASTLE and maybe the castle "hill" is the biggest. ;-)

Piotr said...

Actually, Wawel Castle in Cracow is roughly the same size as Hohensalzburg (54,660 m^2) But I doubt if it's one of the biggest castles int the world.

Jan said...

Zvolen Deserted Castle (Pusty hrad)
have a 3 parts:
Upper Castle 35000 m2+
Lower Castle 6500 m2 +
central zone (206 m defense wall)= ...
picture and plan is on website:
www.pustyhrad.com

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post (and Google) that helped me answer my 5 years old son's question ;)

As an acknowledgment, please have a look at Vincennes castle, near Paris, http://en.chateau-vincennes.fr/index.php

From enceinte description "The enceinte and the counterscrap form two very uniform rectangles whose measurements are highly precise: there is a distance of a thousand feet between the interior facing of the north and south curtain walls; the moats' counterscrap forms a rectangle measuring exactly 1,200 by 700 feet, (389 m by 226 m)." which makes it n° 2 with precisely 87 914 m².

It is also claimed to be the highest dungeon with 50m.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post (and Google) that helped me answer my 5 years old son's question ;)

As an acknowledgment, please have a look at Vincennes castle, near Paris, http://en.chateau-vincennes.fr/index.php

From enceinte description "The enceinte and the counterscrap form two very uniform rectangles whose measurements are highly precise: there is a distance of a thousand feet between the interior facing of the north and south curtain walls; the moats' counterscrap forms a rectangle measuring exactly 1,200 by 700 feet, (389 m by 226 m)." which makes it n° 2 with precisely 87 914 m².

It is also claimed to be the highest dungeon with 50m.

Nordsmetal said...

Great post, how did you made the images, on the google map, this is a tool what calculated the size of selected area automaticly?