Main armoured fort GHW XIII San-Rideau, Bolestraszyce
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Main armoured fort GHW XIII San-Rideau

Bolestraszyce

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Preserved as a permanent ruin, the fort presents high research values as an example of the so-called “compact fort” - centred, two-rampart main fort with artillery located in armoured posts. It was one of the two most impressive forts of the Fortress of Przemyśl. The fort presents high landscape values as well. As a crucial part of the system of fortifications which formed the Fortress of Przemyśl, it remains a valuable historical monument of European importance.

History

The “San-Rideau” GHW XIII fort was erected in the years 1892-1896, as part of the so-called “armoured” expansion of the Fortress of Przemyśl. It was the main feature of the fifth defence perimeter. At first, it was labelled as XIIIa, later renamed XIII½ and finally - XIII. It is marked as Gürtel-H.W.XIII½ (San-Rideau) on the Festung-Umgebungs-Plan von Przemyśl (fortress map). The fort was erected to the design of Moritz Brunner, altered in line with guidelines of the Technical and Administrative Military Committee. The fort’s main armament consisted of three 15 cm howitzers (Panzerhaubitzen) and three 15 cm mortars (Panzermörser) of the M.80 type in armoured towers positioned on the upper storey of gorge barracks, six 8 cm casemate cannons of the M. 94 type located in both casemates on the edges of the barracks, six 8 cm casemate cannons of the M.94 type on trailers for small embrasures in both counterscarp caponiers. The fort was manned by 1 infantry company, 1 artillery company and 9 pioneers (sappers). The fort’s task was to defend the San river valley, support the neighbouring features XII½ (battery 10), XIII b, XIII a and XIV and support inter-fields by firing casemate cannons. During the first siege of the fortress (18 September - 9 October 1914) its artillery assisted the forts of the VI defence perimeter “Siedliska” in resisting a fierce Russian assault. Before surrendering the fortress during the second siege (9 November 1914 - 22 March 1915) armoured towers, casemates and caponiers had been blown up. During the third siege (30 May - 4 June 1915), the fort was overrun by German and Austro-Hungarian forces. Demolition works were carried out in the inter-war period to gain building materials. The fort XIII is associated with a legend of freeing a Russian officer, who had been imprisoned underground for 8 years, during the demolition.

Description

The fort GHW XIII “San-Rideau” is the main, armoured, centred, two-rampart artillery fort of the “Einheitsfort” type, erected as part of the group fortifications system. It is located in the northern part of Bolestraszyce, on the edge of the San river valley’s escarpment.

The area of the fort measured within the boundaries of its allocated plot of land is approximately 6.5 hectares. The fort was designed as a redan, surrounded by a dry moat. The moat’s counterscarp includes a partially preserved concrete shooting gallery and a left-flank caponier. Only the exposed wall of the right-flank caponier has survived. Earth components of the fort have survived as well - a lower infantry rampart, a rampart sheltering the gorge barracks and a counter-rampart surrounding the fort. Its slope includes remains of field reinforcement. The centre of the fort includes ruins of gorge barracks with a massive rubble of concrete blocks of the ceiling (on the left flank) and remnants of granite bases of armoured towers. The right flank includes preserved foundations of the casemate block and the gorge caponier as well as the exposed wall with traces of armoured towers and edges of apertures of the casemate. Winged sally ports from the barracks with access posterns have also survived. Open trapdoors are located along the posterns. Along the infantry rampart axis, there is a concrete main bunker with four exits to the courtyard. The bunker is covered with a concrete ceiling resting on steel double-t beams. Most steel elements of the ceiling were removed during demolition works. A vaulted postern linking the main bunker with the barracks has been preserved. Its outlet is located on the second storey of the exposed wall. A vaulted postern linking the lower storey of the barracks with a shooting gallery in the moat’s counterscarp has also been preserved along the fort’s axis. Its end section includes winder stairs leading to the gallery level. The gallery is equipped with a row of embrasures for hand weapons that include steel walls with apertures. The gallery leads to a left-flank single caponier with the preserved casemate block. Vaulted casemates have survived: a dwelling room, a guardhouse, a munitions chamber, water closet, a battle corridor with embrasures, entrance shaft to the non-existent armoured observation cupola. The casemates of canons have been blown up. A fort access road with a brick-and-stone, vaulted overpass over the strategic road has survived.

The fort is available for viewing without restrictions. Visiting the underground part requires special caution due to the risk of, among others, falling down through a trapdoor. The fort is located along the black “fortress” tourist route and the green cycling route.

compiled by Adam Sapeta, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Rzeszow, 14-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Bobusia B., Gosztyła M., Zub M. Plany Twierdzy Przemyśl, Przemyśl 2004
  • Bogdanowski J. Sztuka obronna, Kraków 1993.
  • Bogdanowski J. Twierdza Przemyśl, w: Teka konserwatorska Polska południowo-wschodnia, t. 4, Rzeszów 1991.
  • Bogdanowski J. Architektura obronna w krajobrazie Polski od Biskupina do Westerplatte, Warszawa - Kraków 1996.
  • Brzoskwinia W., Idzikowski T., Środulska-Wielgus J., Wielgus K. Wartości zabytkowej Twierdzy Przemyśl, w: Informator regionalny Twierdza Przemyśl, wyd. II, Rzeszów 1999.
  • Idzikowski T., Twierdza Przemyśl. Powstanie. Rozwój. Technologie, Przemyśl 2004.
  • Sapeta A. Dzisiejsze zagrożenia Twierdzy Przemyśl - raport, w: Informator regionalny Twierdza Przemyśl, wyd. II, Rzeszów 1999.
  • Sapeta A. Zestawienie obiektów Twierdzy Przemyśl, w: Informator regionalny Twierdza Przemyśl, wyd. II, Rzeszów 1999.

General information

  • Type: defensive architecture
  • Chronology: 1892-1896
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Bolestraszyce
  • Location: Voivodeship podkarpackie, district przemyski, commune Żurawica
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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