Fragments of Gothic municipal defensive walls, Olsztyn
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Fragments of Gothic municipal defensive walls



An element of an old municipal complex, an example of Gothic fortifications.


With great probability, it may be said that all municipal fortifications of Olsztyn were built on the basis of a one, uniform construction concept implemented from the 2nd half of the 14th century (after 1353) to the first quarter of the 15th century. It should be emphasised that originally, the defensive walls of the city and the nearby castle were not connected.


The main perimeter of Olsztyn fortifications, called today high walls, was closed by three gates: Górna — in the northern side of the city (the gate was preserved until today), Dolna — in the southern part of the city, and Młyńska (in the north-western part of the walls. Also, two wicket gates were used: Wodna — at the outlet of the present Staszic Street and a wicket gate by the Dolna Gate. Apart from the gates, the municipal walls featured rectangular fortified half-towers, open from the city, and round closed fortified towers. In the late 15th century, at the section where the city was not surrounded by a river, but only by a moat, namely from the south-east and east, and additional, external section of defensive walls called lower walls were built, spanning from the Górna Gate to the Dolna Gate. The distance between the high and the low walls was between 10 to 12.5 m. The third line of municipal fortifications registered during excavations on the east of the city — along the external bank of the moat, was constituted by the so-called counter escarpment wall. It was situated within a distance of approx. 25 m from the low walls. The municipal fortifications were made of stone — commonly available post-glacial meadow travertine, used as a building material for foundation sections — and brick used to clad upper sections of the walls. The walls were filled with stone and brick rubble. As a binder, lime mortar was used. The thickness of the walls in the foundation part was between 1.6 and 2 m, while the width in the top section reached 1.5 m. Municipal fortifications featured passageways and fighting platforms — made of wood and not preserved until today. The municipal fortifications, similarly as the entire city itself, were damaged. In 1620 and 1657, wooden structural elements of the walls were destroyed by fire, and also the Great Northern War inflicted considerable damages. In the middle 18th century, municipal fortifications lost their importance and ceased to be repaired, and even became a source of building material. Fragments of the fortifications went into private hands — fortified towers were adapted to serve as residential buildings, part of which have survived until today. The space between individual fortification lines was used for gardening.

Substantial part of the municipal fortifications is discernible today and fitted into the contemporary urban space. Green areas with passageways situated on the external part of the fortifications make the structure generally accessible.

Compiled by Hanna Mackiewicz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board in Olsztyn, 16.09.2014.


  • Sikorski J., Historia fortyfikacji miejskich w Olsztynie - od XIV do pocz. XX w. [w:] Chodkowska W., Sikorski J.„Badania historycznoarchitektoniczne obronnych murów miejskich w Olsztynie”, T. I, Część analityczna, Olsztyn 1995, maszynopis w archiwum WUOZ w olsztynie, s.11
  • Chodkowska W., Dokumentacja historyczno-konserwatorska murów miejskich w Olsztynie, Olsztyn 1987, s. 10. Praca na prawach maszynopisu w archiwum WUOZ w Olsztynie
  • Mackiewicz H., Mackiewicz A., Wyniki badań archeologicznych fortyfikacji miejskich Olsztyna na odcinku północno-wschodnim i północno-zachodnim - Brama Młyńska i północna baszta narożna. Nieznane elementy [w:]Rocznik Warmińsko-Mazurski, 1/2008, warszawa-Olsztyn 2008, s. 134-152

General information

  • Type: defensive wall
  • Chronology: 1353-1405
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Olsztyn
  • Location: Voivodeship warmińsko-mazurskie, district Olsztyn, commune Olsztyn
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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