Urban fortification complex, Szydłów
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Urban fortification complex



The best-preserved medieval defensive walls within the boundaries of the state of Casimir the Great; one of a dozen of the major strongholds defending the borders of Małopolska.


Szydłów emerged as a defensive stronghold, probably on a hill south of the town, in the neighbourhood of today’s church of All Saints and an early pre-town settlement established in the 11th or 12th century. The first written mention of Szydłów comes form 1191. According to the Rev. J. Wiśniowski, the settlement receives town rights in 1225. Although the date appears to be incorrect, the event itself could have taken place. In 1241 the town was destroyed by the Mongols. Szydłów was probably a wooden hunting manor of the dukes of Kraków; this is indirectly confirmed in a document issued in Szydłów by Bolesław the Chaste in 1255.At the end of the first quarter of the 14th century, the town was incorporated under Neumarkt-Magdeburg Law, as evidenced by the sales documents of the Szydłów leader office to a Kraków burgher Zammeloni issued in 1329 by Władysław the Short. In the mid-14th century, Casimir the Great included Szydłów in the system of fortifications of the Sandomierz region through the construction of defensive walls. The walls of about 1 km encircled an area of ​​approx. 6.5 hectares and measuring about 280x290 m. The south side of the town was almost straight, the other sides were rounded. A deep gorge cut into the town area from the north-west. The walls had probably two gates: Kraków Gate from the south and Opatów Gate from the east, and a smaller gate from the north-west. Probably in the mid-15th century, the walls were restructured (preserved south-east and west section) and a foregate was added to Kraków Gate. In 1468 the town was heavily damaged in a fire. In 1519 the king allocated the proceeds from the excise tax on alcohol to wall repairs. In 1541 another fire destroyed the fortifications that were again repaired. The funds came from the rent paid by the local distillers. Next fire devastated the town in 1556. In 1565 Sigismund August issued a privilege that granted the town the right to retain the tax on the sales of alcohol to repair the walls. During the repair, Kraków Gate received a recessed attic with two round turrets. Probably at the same time, Opatów Gate was rebuilt and two new smaller gates were made: at the church and on the premises of the castle. The town fell into disrepair after the fires in 1630 and 1655. The fortifications were not rebuilt any more. In 1822 there was an attempt to put them for auction but, fortunately, nobody was interested to purchase them. A map drawn by M. Potocki in 1823 shows the almost complete line of the city walls (without the north-west and south-west corners) with two gates: Kraków and Opadów, the latter destroyed in the 2nd half of the 19th century. The walls were partially reconstructed in the years 1926-1927, and Kraków Gate in 1929-1930. The city was destroyed in the warfare of 1944. In 1946 the walls were recreated along with Kraków Gate, which was enlarged vertically. In 2010 the passage on top of the defensive wall and the porch were restored next to the castle square. In 2011 the walls facing Kielecka Street and Kraków Gate were renovated.


Szydłów is situated on the boundary of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains and the Nidzica River Basin, on the so-called Szydłów Upland. From the west, north and partly east, it is surrounded by a gorge with the Ciekąca River. From the north-west, the walls were erected on the edge of a high ravine, from the south and east on a flat area, and reinforced by an earth embankment and a moat. The complex consists of the walls, Kraków Gate and the remains of the gate in Staszowska Street and Brzezińska Street (Opatów Gate). The preserved strip of the walls runs in four sections of a total length of approx. 680 m in the west, south and east part of the town. From the west, it is supported by buttresses in some places. The north-west line of the walls is not clearly visible. The wall was built of quarry sandstone with levelling course. It is 1.8 m thick and 6.5-7 m high. It is topped with battement. Kraków Gate, which defended the town from the south, consisted of a high tower, closed with a portcullis and a lower, almost square foregate. The proper gate tower was extended on both sided beyond the defensive wall. The front wall has survived topped with a Renaissance attic with corner, circular towers. Between the recesses of the upper floor, there are two rectangular windows, and in the semicircular niches of the attic, there are four indentations for shooters. In the ground floor, there is a pointed-arch entrance opening. From the west, the passage is accessed with the stone steps.

The site is accessible to visitors.

Compiled by Nina Glińska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Kielce, 08.12.2014.


  • Architektura gotycka, Mroczko T., Arszyński M. (red.), t. 2: Katalog zbytków, Włodarek A., (red.), Warszawa 1995, s. 227, 333.
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General information

  • Type: defensive wall
  • Chronology: poł. XIV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Szydłów
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district staszowski, commune Szydłów
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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