Municipal defensive walls, Olsztynek
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Municipal defensive walls



An element of an old municipal complex, an example of Gothic defensive architecture preserved in a discernible perimeter.


Opinions of the researches as regards the time in which the brick fortifications were erected in the place of a wooden palisade differ. While some of them are of the opinion, that it was in the 14th century, there is more and more evidence indicating that the construction of the defensive walls of Olsztynek was started only after the Hunger War in 1414. In the In the 17th century, the whole town suffered heavy damages as a result of Swedish wars, and after the fire in 1685, fortified towers were started to be used for residential purposes. As a result of another fire, in 1804, the German Gate located near the castle was destroyed, and the next years of the 19th century resulted in further damages to the fabric of municipal fortifications, which were used as an easily available source of building material. The moat surrounding the town was filled and converted into gardens. In 1914, as a result of German offensive, the town along with substantial fragments of the fortifications suffered heavy damages. During reconstruction, Richard Dethlefsen, Provincial Monuments Conservator for Eastern Prussia, emphasised the need to preserve the defensive walls. Commenced conservation works were stopped by the outbreak of the World War II. After 1945, first efforts aimed at the preservation of the municipal fortifications took place in 1957, however the most important works were carried out in years 1993-94, when the north-eastern line of the fortifications was revitalised.


The outline of the walls was shaped as an irregular rectangle and apart from the northern and south-eastern section, which is partially indiscernible, has survived until today. The main perimeter of fortifications in Olsztynek, around 1000 m long, was closed by two gates: Wysoka, called German Gate — located next to the castle, and Nidzicka, called Polish Gate — in the southern line of the walls. None of the gates survived. The walls were up to 2 metres thick at the base, and up to 9 meters high. The foundations were build of fieldstone, while upper sections of the walls are clad with brick. The main perimeter of the defensive walls feature half-towers open from the town. There were total 13 of them. Most of the fortified towers were later adapted for residential purposes and survived to this day. The eastern line of fortifications in Olsztynek was flanked by a round fortified tower, partially preserved. Outside the walls, there was a moat which is not discernible today, fed from the river Jemiołówka. The moat area on the eastern and western side of former fortifications was converted to serve as footpaths.

Accessible structure.

Compiled by Adam Mackiewicz



  • Czubiel L., Domagała T., Zabytkowe ośrodki miejskie Warmii i Mazur, Olsztyn 1969, s. 237-238.
  • Mackiewicz H., Badania archeologiczne, a rewitalizacja Olsztynka [w:] Warmińsko-Mazurski Biuletyn Konserwatorski, nr 6, Olsztyn 2014 r., s. 43-50
  • Toeppen M., Historia okręgu i miasta Olsztynka, przekład Sacha M., Dąbrówno 2004, s. 27-28

General information

  • Type: defensive wall
  • Chronology: 1405-1450
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Olsztynek
  • Location: Voivodeship warmińsko-mazurskie, district olsztyński, commune Olsztynek - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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