Defensive walls, Chojna
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The Gothic town fortifications in Chojna were built over the long period from the early 14th century to the first quarter of the 16th century. The ring of the walls was reinforced by three gate, complex of fortified towers and lookouts, and moats and earth embankments. The components of the defence system that have been preserved to this day include walls measuring about 1,800 m in length, two gates (Świecka and Barnkowska Gate), four large fortified towers and relics of lookouts.

History

The earliest mention of the name “Chojna” (Konigesberge) is in the document of Barnim I, Duke of Pomerania, dating from 1244. Under the document, the Knights Templars were granted the Banie Land located on the southern outskirts of the Duchy of Pomerania. At that time, the spatial and settlement structure covered an early medieval fortified settlement with a trading settlement at the intersection of the routes from Pomerania to Silesia, Mecklenburg and Saxony. The original settlement layout protected the fortifications featuring an earthen and wooden structure. In 1267, Chojna was incorporated into the March of Brandenburg ruled by the Ascanian Dynasty of Margraves.

Brick town fortifications were erected in three construction stages from the early 14th century to the first quarter of the 16th century.

The earliest records indicating the existence of the defensive walls date from 1313 and provide information about the location of a town mill. According to the records, the mill was located in front of the gate leading to a new town. Based thereon, it can be assumed that the construction of the brick fortifications began in the late 13th century or early 14th century, after a new town layout (“nova civitas”) had been developed, covering the early medieval fortified settlement with a trading settlement. The next recorded mention from 1329 describing the location of the mill next to a moat indicates that at that time the town was surrounded by brick walls built on stone foundations. The walls were reinforced by lookouts hanging or projecting from the face of the wall on the outside and the inside, which were spaced at distances from 23 to 27 metres. The entrance to the town was guarded by the Barnkowska (Chrobrego Street) and Świecka (Młyńska Street) Gate. The town fortifications were surrounded by a moat and earthen embankments which served as the outer defence of the town.

The next stage (from the 2nd half of the 14th c. to the end of the 14th c.) of construction of the town fortifications involved raising the fortifications and adapting them to new combat techniques (more common use of firearms). As a result of alterations, the town gate have a two-level form. The walls were reinforced by cylindrical fortified towers, and the part of the old lookouts was converted into fortified towers by erecting walls from the side of the town. In 1430, a gate leading to Vierraden in Brandenburg was built at the end of the current Bałtycka Street, in the northern segment of the walls. At that time (1433), the fortifications of Chojna were assessed as the strongest in the region.

The third and final stage of extension of the town fortifications was carried out in the first quarter of the 16th century. During that period, the gates were enclosed by massive foregates with roundels. The upper storeys of the gates ware altered, and the fortified towers were extended upwards and, in addition to defensive purposes, they started to be used for strategic and observation purposes. The defensive complex was further strengthened by the addition of a second moat. The condition of the town fortifications recorded in the first quarter of the 16th century remained unchanged until the beginning of the 18th century. Engravings by Matthäus Merian (ca. 1650 r.) an Daniel Petzold (ca. 1710 r.) depict the panorama of the town from the south-west to the adjacent fields in a broad in greater detail. Both engravings show the town fortifications from the Świecka Gate to Barnkowska Gate. Embrasures, half towers and fortified towers of varying form were marked in the wall characterised by its uniform height. The town fortifications were distinguished from other fortifications in the region by the use of brick for their construction; however, this building material did not contribute to their durability.

The process of removing medieval fortifications which became obsolete in terms of their strategic relevance and limited the spatial development of the town began in the 18th century. In Chojna, the dismantling of the defensive complex was started with the demolition of the foregate of the Barnkowska Gate in 1718. Soon afterwards, the foregate of the Świecka Gate was demolished. In 1764, the upper storey of the Vierraden Gate was dismantled, and from 1767 the upper sections of the fortified towers and walls were gradually dismantled. The bricks obtained were used for the current repairs of fortifications. The process of removing the water and earthen system consisting of moats and embankments preventing access to the walls from the outside was started in the 18th century and took many years.

In the 19th century, the walls were not only repaired, but also surrounded by residential and utility buildings erected in the town. In 1830, the walls of the destroyed Vierraden Gate were demolished. The area of the backfilled moats and levelled embankments was adapted to be used as gardens of townsmen. A garrison field hospital was built to the north of the Świecka Gate, on the site formerly occupied by the moats. The areas adjacent to the walls were described as “Wallgärten” on a plan of Chojna. The line of embankments on the section from the Świecka Gate and Barnkowska Gate was called “Poetensteig”, and the section from the Barnkowska Gate to the current Browarna Street was called “Neuer Weg”. In the second half of the 19th century, the section of the wall in the vicinity of the former Augustinian monastery was pierced by a road towards a railway station, the current Dworcowa Street. At the end of the 19th century, a complex of school buildings was erected to the north of the Świecka Gate, on the site formerly occupied by a moat and a military field hospital. The wall was pierced by two passages, at the location of the current Szkolna Street. A park was established in the area formerly occupied by a moat on the north side of the town.

The complex of the defensive walls in Chojna survived until World War 2 as one of the best preserved in Western Pomerania. Despite wartime destruction of the old town buildings, the whole ring of fortifications with two gates survived.

After 1945, the walls underwent minor renovations. Historical documentation of the town fortifications with photographic documentations as well as design and inventory documentation of the Świecka and Barnkowska Gates were prepared in the 1950s -1960s. In 1967, the interior of the Barnkowska Gate was adapted to be used as the seat of the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association in Chojna. The structure underwent minor renovations, which included securing and reinforcing parts of the walls threatening the safety of residents.

Description

The town fortification surrounding the area of the Old Town have the shape approximating that of a circle. The preserved components of the former town fortifications include a wall measuring about 1,800 m in length and the area formerly occupied by a moat and sections of alleys (maples, chestnut trees?) demarking the area covered by the ramparts and their course. Some sections of a street adjacent to the wall, the current Podmurze Street, have survived from the side of the town along the walls on the eastern and northern side. The area along the wall to the south is used as allotment gardens.

The town fortifications are built on the foundations made of irregular granite ashlars; the walls were built of ceramic bricks laid in Monk, Gothic and mixed bonds. The western sections feature visible fragments made of burr bricks laid in the shape of a rhomboid. The walls are from 90 to 120 cm thick, and their height varied from about 60 to about 700 cm in the top sections. The largest cracks in, and damages to, the wall occur on the sections between Szkolna Street and Bałtycka Street, Browarna Street and Dworcowa Street, and between the former Augustinian monastery, the current Church of the Holy Trinity and Piekarska Street. The town gates were erected on stone foundations, and are made only of bricks laid in Monk and Gothic bond. Fortified towers are built of granite stones and bricks laid in varying bonds like the walls. The original crest of the walls has not been preserved; it is partly covered with roof tiles, and partly levelled and secured by bonding.

The site is open to visitors.

compiled by Anna Walkiewicz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Szczecin, 28.08.2015.

Bibliography

  • Arszyński M., Mroczko T. (redakcja), Architektura gotycka w Polsce. Katalog zabytków, Warszawa 1995, s. 45 - 46.
  • Kalita-Skwirzyńska K., Chojna - mury obronne, woj. szczecińskie. Wytyczne konserwatorskie dotyczące renowacji murów obronnych, PP Pracownie Konserwacji Zabytków, Pracownia Dokumentacji Naukowo-Historycznej, Szczecin 1978, kopia m-pis w archiwum NID Oddział Terenowy w Szczecinie.
  • Kalita-Skwirzyńska K., Chojna. Fortyfikacje miejskie, karta ewidencyjna zabytków architektury i budownictwa, 2000r., m-pis w archiwum Zachodniopomorskiego Wojewódzkiego Konserwatora Zabytków w Szczecinie.
  • Kalita-Skwirzyńska K., Rozwój urbanistyki i architektury Chojny w okresie średniowiecza, [w:] Terra Transoderana. Sztuka Pomorza Zachodniego i dawnej Nowej Marchii w średniowieczu, Szczecin 2004, s. 101-112.
  • Kalita-Skwirzyńska K., Konserwacja murów obronnych na Pomorzu Zachodnim w latach 1975 - 2005, [w:] „Zachodniopomorskie Wiadomości Konserwatorskie” R. I/2006, Szczecin 2006, s. 117-32.
  • Lukas E., Mury obronne w Chojnie, woj. szczecińskie, PP Pracownie Konserwacji Zabytków, Pracownia Dokumentacji Historycznej, Szczecin 1963, m-pis w archiwum NID Oddział Terenowy w Szczecinie.
  • Lukas E., Miejskie budownictwo obronne w Księstwie Zachodnio-Pomorskim, [w:] Sztuka Pomorza Zachodniego, red. Z. Świechowski, Warszawa 1973, s.181-224.
  • Pilch J., Kowalski S., Leksykon zabytków architektury Pomorza Zachodniego i ziemi lubuskiej, Warszawa 2012, s. 37.

General information

  • Type: defensive wall
  • Chronology: 1 poł. XV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Chojna
  • Location: Voivodeship zachodniopomorskie, district gryfiński, commune Chojna - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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