Defensive town walls of the old town, Braniewo
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Defensive town walls of the old town

Braniewo

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An outstanding example of urban defensive architecture from the Medieval times. The only example of a complex of walls with two rings of fortifications which exists in Warmia today.

History

A ring of defensive palisades surrounded the town along the banks of the Pasłęka river and of the 12th-century moat as early as 1273. They were mentioned for the first time in documents dating back to the year 1300. The internal defensive walls of the old town in Braniewo were replaced the palisades in the first half of the 14th century although sources first mention their existence in 1393. At a later stage there were complemented by fortified towers and extended upwards, while a second, external line of walls was completed before 1434. The names of those responsible for the repairs and extension of walls during the 15th and 16th centuries are still known today: Henryk and Michał (1443), Henryk and Krist (1444), Hans (1505), who performed modernisation works on the Priest Tower, Hans (1520, 1522), Albrecht Kobijewski from Pasłęka (1562). Originally, the internal ring of walls consisted of a high, brick curtain wall, seven gates and five towers, while the external ring had the form of a low curtain wall with six fortified towers. From the 17th century onwards, the walls built around the Medieval town did not perform a defensive function anymore, with sheds and stalls beginning to sprout all around them. In 1781, the process of the gradual demolition of the walls began. In the beginning of the 19th century all gates and associated fortifications were demolished and by 1843 individual sections of the walls and some of the towers have been torn down as well. Other fortified towers and turrets were adapted to perform different functions: in the Priest Tower, a number of rooms were used by the local junior secondary school (the former rooms of the old Jesuit College); subsequently, the school was replaced by an archive. The Treadmill Tower was used as a prison, while from 1888 onwards it served as the granary of St Catherine’s convent. The preserved sections of the walls were exposed, repaired and protected after 1945. The most recent renovation of the town’s walls was carried out in 2010-2011.

Description

The Medieval town walls originally surrounded the old town of Braniewo. They consisted of two rings of fortifications - internal and external. The internal ring protected the town from the west and the north. It consisted of a high curtain wall, seven gates and five towers. The internal wall consisted of the following gates: the High Gate in the west, the Monk Gate, the Nailing Gate and the Fishing Gate (Water Gate) in the north and the Butcher Gate (also called the Boiler-Maker Gate or the Mill Gate) in the east. The Castle Gate and the Church Gate in the south were much smaller than the rest of the gates, performing the function of wicket gates. This ring of fortifications comprised more than five towers: the Priest Tower in the north-western corner, the Bull Tower in the north-eastern corner, the Executioner Tower in the west, the Treadmill Tower (also known as the Church Tower or the Tower of Nuns) and another, nameless tower next to the church wicket gate in the south. The external ring of walls surrounded the Braniewo Old Town and had six fortified towers: the Gunpowder Tower in the north-western corner, four unnamed fortified tower positioned east of the Gunpowder Tower and the Blue Tower on the southern side. The gates of the external walls were additionally strengthened by bridges spanning the moat; additional towers, designed to provide protection of the passage (the Coal Tower ahead of the High Gate and the Blue Tower ahead of the church wicket gate), stood in the forefield, by the entrances to the bridges. The bridge structure by the church wicket gate also performed the function of a water dam. The only parts of the medieval fortifications which remain to this day are the lower sections of the brick walls and the Priest Tower (formerly parts of the internal ring of fortifications, currently incorporated into the the Jesuit College) and the Treadmill Tower (later renamed as the Monastery Tower or the Tower of Nuns). The Gunpowder Tower and a low, unnamed tower are all that remains of the outer ring of defensive walls.

The structures can be viewed from the outside.

Compiled by Joanna Jakutowicz, Regional Branch in Olsztyn , 22.09.2014.

 

 

Bibliography

  • Arszyński M., Kutzner M., Katalog zabytków. Województwo elbląskie. Braniewo, Frombork, Orenta i okolice, Warszawa 1980.
  • Bender J., Über die Entstehungs- und Entwicklungsgeschichte der Stadt Braunsberg, Zeitschrift für die Geschichte und Altertumskunde Ermlands no. 5, 1874.
  • Biskup M., Rozwój przestrzenny miasta Braniewa, Komunikaty Mazursko-Warmińskie no. 1, r.1959.
  • Braniewo. Z dziejów miasta i powiatu, Olsztyn 1973.
 

General information

  • Type: defensive wall
  • Chronology: 1300-1350
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Braniewo
  • Location: Voivodeship warmińsko-mazurskie, district braniewski, commune Braniewo (gm. miejska)
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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