Defensive towers of the railway bridge over Pasłęka, Tomaryny
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Defensive towers of the railway bridge over Pasłęka



An example of fortification construction characteristic of the early 20th century. The towers represent the model of the railway bridges defense characteristic of the then fortification concept. Authentic historical fabric, preserved to a significant degree.


Some of the railway lines within the area of Eastern Prussia, apart from communication and transportation role also had military functions. This group included the so called toruńsko-wystrućska bus, on the route on which the railway bridge over Pasłęka in Tomaryny was located (the section using the bridge on the Ostróda-Olsztyn route was launched in 1873). Military weakest point within the area of railway lines were the bridges and flyovers, the destruction of which in connection with considerable difficulties in the reconstruction significantly lowered the military value of the railway line. First fortification of railway bridges in Eastern Prussia were erected in 1868 on the Giżycko i Niegociński canals. In connection with the worsening of the relations between Germans and Russia by the end of the 19th century, fearing the destruction of railway bridges by the Russian chivalry, in the years 1897 and 1900 it was decided to erect the fortification structures near the bridges on the very important railway route: Berlin - Poznań - Toruń - Olsztyn - Wystruć, the destruction of which could hamper the effective defense of Eastern Prussia. Until 1914 a number of buildings by the bridges and flyovers were erected. In the years 1901-1902 defensive towers with armoured turrets on the roofs were erected in Tomaryny, Gietrzwałd commune and Samborów, Ostróda commune. The towers in Tomaryny were built on the basis of the design prepared by the Fortress Office in Grudziądz. In subsequent years the towers with lower ballistic value were erected, among others, in Iława, Ostróda, Korsze and Mikołajki. Towers in Tomaryny were not used during the First World War. The very fact that the troops were deployed there was enough to protect the bridge. In the inter-war period the towers were maintained in defensive vigilance. After Second World War they were demilitarised. In 1996 the collector of military items demounted the armoured cupolas (at their place the concrete mockups were placed) and gave them to the museum in Drezno. The event ended up before court. In 1997 the towers in Tomaryny were entered into the register of monuments.


Both towers are located in the direct neighbourhood of the railway bridge over Pasłęka (on its western shore), approximately 400 m to the south-east of the Tomaryny village and ca. 2 km to the east from the railway station in Biesal. The height of the towers was adjusted to the size of the existing railway embankment. Both towers are four-storey structures erected on a rectangular floor plan joined by the corridor with a western span of the bridge used as an additional room. There is a washroom annexe by the northern tower. Towers were made of cement and lime brick, the facades of both towers are made of brick, are crowned with granite cornice,shooting embrasures positioned on each storey, closed with segmental arch, in one of the facades of each of the towers there are steel ladders leading to the armoured turrets (currently there are no turrets, as well as the stairs and inner door). Inside the towers several types of vaults were applied (Prussian mitre, steel slab, double-t beams reinforced by the sheet metal) and flat concrete roof; cement flooring. In the interios, on the whitewashed walls there are inscriptions in German facilitating the crew the orientation in terrain (informing on location of the towers in relation to neighbouring towns and railway station in Biesal). The crew of the tower consisted of 2 platoons of infantry (approx. 160 soldiers) and 10 gunners. The towers were adapted to ordnance and machine guns (3 ckm per each tower) and armoured turrets for the 53 mm cannons embedded into the flat concrete roof (produced in Grusson plants, currently there are none, at their place there are concrete mockups).

The historical structures are accessible, also from the inside.

Compiled by Adam Płoski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Olsztyn, 20.10.2014.


  • Karta ewidencyjna zabytków architektury i budownictwa, wieże obronne mostu kolejowego na Pasłęce, oprac. K. Biskup, 1996, archiwum Wojewódzkiego Urzędu Ochrony Zabytków w Olsztynie
  • W. Rużewicz, Fortyfikacje nowożytne w Prusach Wschodnich - przewodnik, Łódź 2007, s. 33-40.

General information

  • Type: defensive architecture
  • Chronology: 1901-1902
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Tomaryny
  • Location: Voivodeship warmińsko-mazurskie, district olsztyński, commune Gietrzwałd
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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