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Paczków - Old Town Complex with a Medieval System of Fortifications - Zabytek.pl

Paczków, castellated church

Paczków - Old Town Complex with a Medieval System of Fortifications

History monuments Paczków


woj. opolskie, pow. nyski, gm. Paczków - miasto

The town, established in 1254 on the foothills of the Eastern Sudetes, on the Nysa Kłodzka river, retains its medieval character.

Once upon a time it defended the border of the Nysa duchy ruled by the bishops of Wrocław, but the first settlements in this location appeared in an even earlier period, which is exemplified by the 13th-century cemetery located on the southern side of the defensive walls. Between the 14th and the 16th century Paczków was surrounded by two rings of defensive walls and a moat. To this day, the older, internal circle of the wall remains (built in 1341-1376), featuring both quadrilateral fortified towers and fortified towers which are open at the back (originally there were 24 such towers, with 19 still standing) as well as three gate towers: the Wrocław gate tower in the east, the Kłodzko gate tower in the west and the Ząbkowice gate tower in the north. The wall has a regular outline and is 1200 metres long. The curtain walls were erected from local split stone. Originally, they featured battlements in their top section and were about 9 metres high. Later on, the external ring of the walls and the moat were levelled during the 19th century. However, during the 1840s, the first maintenance works were carried out on the medieval fortifications which have, over time, become the hallmark of this small town.

The urban layout of Paczków is both regular and easily identifiable. The town was established on an oval plan with a rectangular market square in the middle from which ten streets lead outwards in a perpendicular arrangement. Around the main square, the buildings are closely clustered together, occupying plots of land whose boundaries were drawn centuries ago. The majority of the preserved tenement houses of the bourgeoisieoriginate from the 18th and 19th centuries; in addition there are also isolated examples of earlier structures, including some dating back to the 16th century. Many of these tenement houses are positioned so that their gable-end walls face the street. The town hall, built in 1550-1552, is located on the market square; it was redesigned in years 1821-1822 in the classicist style. The original sections of the town hall which have not been modified include a Renaissance tower.

The parish church of St John the Evangelist (built around 1361-1389) is located in the most elevated part of the town of Paczków, near the town walls. The three-nave, two-bay Gothic temple, featuring a hall layout and a tall tower (64 m) is reinforced by external buttresses. The presbytery features a polygonal end section. Exceptionally interesting are the Late Gothic tripartite, lierne and stellar vaults (built in years 1472-1491) and the chapel of the Virgin Mary adjoining the main body of the church (built before 1447, currently known as the chapel of the von Maltitz family). Notable interior fittings of the church include an unusual group of sculptures (which includes sculpted masks and human heads positioned on corbels) as well as the Renaissance architectural altar (founded in 1588). Due to the threat of Turkish invasion in 1529, the church was adapted as a defensive structure by lowering its roofs and concealing them behind a brick attic which protected the church against projectiles which could set it on fire and provided safe positions for the defending crew. In the southern nave, a well was dug, allowing the church to survive even a prolonged siege. The structure, often referred to as the Tatar well, is unique on a national scale.

During the several hundred years of its history, the town was under Czech, Austrian, Prussian and Polish control. It has never formed part of the greater commercial or political centres of the region. Its location and defensive role - for which it was designed from the very beginning - resulted in a pace of development that was less dynamic than in the case of other, neighbouring towns. However, owing to the protection afforded to it by the bishops, the town experienced a period of relative prosperity until the 16th century. Later on, following a number of natural disasters and invasions, the town’s fortunes waned. During the thirty-year war, it also lost its military importance. It was only during the 19th century that the town regained its status, as the remaining authority of the bishops was finally abolished and the economic situation improved.

Category: urban layout

Building material:  ceglane

Protection: Historical Monument

Inspire id: PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_N_16_PH.9474