Opatów Gate and the remains of defensive walls, Sandomierz
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Opatów Gate and the remains of defensive walls

Sandomierz

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The remains of city walls with defensive towers and the town gate of the reign of Casimir the Great have a great historical, educational and scenic values important for Sandomierz as the town incorporated in 1286.

History

The incorporation of Sandomierz in 1286 by Leszek the Black covered Town Hill but excluded the area later occupied by the Holy Trinity Hospital and the surroundings of the collegiate church of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Cathedral Hill. In the 1320s, an earth and wood rampart was erected. Possibly, it coincided with the repairs of the fortifications and the castle buildings (1328). The wooden development of Sandomierz was destroyed in a fire during the invasion of Lithuanians in 1349. As a result, the town was redesigned and redeveloped. The town incorporated the area previously outside the town ramparts: the collegiate church and the Holy Spirit Hospital. The city was surrounded by stone fortifications erected by Casimir the Great. Initially, the fortifications between the town and the castle were wooden or earthen; stone ramparts were built along with the Kraków Gate no earlier than at the end of the 15th century or even later. Perhaps, it was then that the castle defensive system was combined with the town walls. However, by the end of the 14th century, the majority of the planned defensive perimeter was finished as in a source of 1394, when describing the location of the church of St Paul, the phrase “extra muros” was used. Out of the town gates existing in the later period, only the Opatów Gate (know as the Grand Gate), the Lublin Gate (also known as the Fisherman’s Gate) and the gate in the west wall (today known as the Needle's Eye), linking the premises of the two Dominican monasteries, were used. The other gate, known as Zamiejska, was located in the area of Collegium Gostomianum and Długosz’s House; other gates, probably made later, were in the north wall. The aforementioned Kraków gate (the Little Gate) and the Zawichost Gate were built much later, the latter probably no earlier than in the 1st half of the 16th century. Another gate, not known from the sources, but discovered during the archaeological excavations was built (or started) in the west walls, north of the Needle’s Eye. This gate was located at the end of the street leading from the south-west corner of the market, before today’s Zamkowa Street was laid out. In the following centuries, the walls were repeatedly repaired and the gates rebuilt. In 1776 the Needle’s Eye was repaired and vaulted, and in 1782 the walls of the Zawichost and Opatów Gates were renovated. In 1810 a decision was made to demolish the walls that were on the verge of collapsing, however, the Opatów Gate was remained intact. Demolition works were carried out throughout the 19th century. In the 20th century, further restoration work followed. In 2006 the walls and the gate attic were restored.

Description

To the present time, the following sections of town fortifications have been preserved: larger sections of the north wall on both sides of the Opatów Gate, part of the west wall between Żydowska Street and Podwale Street and in Zamkowa Street (with the Dominican wicket next to the house at 2 Zamkowa Street), as well as smaller relics in the lower parts of houses at 10 and 12 Forteczna Street, 2 Tkacka Street, and 7, 9 and 15 Katedralna Street. The walls were built on a stone foundation of large Gothic brick laid in a “Polish” style, with the burr brick heads. The defensive walls embedded rectangular towers open to the inside of the fortifications; their tops featured crenellation. The Opatów Gate was originally lower than now, its height more or less the same as that of the walls. Built on a square plan, it had two floors, the lower of which contained a pointed-arch gateway. From the north, on both sides of the gateway arcades two flat buttresses were built with stone guides for lowering the portcullis. The interior of the gate was accessible from the second floor via the guards entrances from the porch on the town wall. The gate tower was raised most probably in the 15th century. It coincided with the horizontal division of the façade of the extended tower by means of a plastered belt lined with friezes of bricks laid “on edge”. A similar, double frieze topped the wall of the building under the drip edge of the roof, presumably a tent roof. In the upper part, the gate tower was probably fitted with wooden hoardings - only the metal hooks fastening the beam have been preserved. Inside, there were wooden platforms connected by ladders which led to the embrasures in the gate tower walls. In the 15th century, the foregate walls were added in the north while, at the same time, the lower parts of the guides of the portcullis closing the passage were walled up. In the mid-16th century, an attic was added.

The monument is open to visitors. Ticketed sightseeing of Opatowska Gate.

Compiled by Leszek Polanowski, 09.12.2014.

Bibliography

  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. III: Województwo kieleckie, fasc. 11: Powiat sandomierski, compiled by Łoziński J. Z. and Przypkowski T., Warszawa 1962, pp. 94-95.
  • Widawski J., Miejskie mury obronne w państwie polskim do początku XV wieku, Warszawa 1973.
  • Karty ewidencyjne, Mury miejskie - pozostałości, Brama Opatowska, Furta Dominikańska, compiled by Polanowski L., 1990, Archiwum Delegatury w Sandomierzu Wojewódzkiego Urzędu Ochrony Zabytków.

General information

  • Type: defensive architecture
  • Chronology: 2. poł. XIV – XV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Sandomierz
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district sandomierski, commune Sandomierz
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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