Bolesławiec Śląski – city defensive walls and castle

History

   Bolesławiec appeared in historical sources in 1202, among other castellan hillforts. Convenient location by an important trade route from Kraków through Wrocław, Legnica to Zgorzelec and further west, caused intensive development and granting of town rights by prince Bolesław II Rogatka before 1251. It was probably then that the Bolesławiec was strengthened with wooden and earth fortifications. The townspeople built them with considerable financial help from the local Jewish community.
   Stone fortifications in Bolesławiec were built in place of the elders in the first half of the fourteenth century. However, it were not sufficient security, among others against the Hussites. That is why in 1430 Bolesławiec concluded an agreement with Lwówek on mutual assistance in the event of an assault, modeling on the Lusatian association of Six Cities from the mid-fourteenth century. This agreement was independent of the military union of 14 Silesian cities concluded earlier in 1398, which also included Bolesławiec. In addition, in 1433 the town moats were deepened and modernized, and in the years 1479-1480 the construction of the second wall circumference with regularly spaced towers and a moat began.
   In 1529, the threat of war with Turkey became the reason why the fortifications were renovated and the buildings and the church in front of the Nicholas Gate were demolished. Further repairs were recorded in 1643, 1660, 1681, 1724 and 1729, but then their military significance decreased, which was evident, for example, by frequent renting of towers to townsmen for warehouses and erecting of non-defensive buildings at the fragments of walls.
   The Bolesławiec castle was built in the 14th century. In 1594 it was taken over by the city authorities, but in 1642 it was destroyed by fire and the demolition was carried out by the Swedish invaders. Like the castle, some of the town fortifications were demolished in the nineteenth century by the Napoleonic army.

Architecture

   The fortifications of Bolesławiec in their most developed form consisted of a double ring of defensive walls similar in plan to an oval. The older inner ring from the first half of the 14th century was reinforced with fairly regularly spaced four-sided half-towers, initially open from the town side. The younger, outer ring from the 15th century was lower, and its wall was reinforced by half-round towers, adapted for the use of firearms. Outside, additional protection was provided by the irrigated moat and the ponds surrounding the town from the south, fed with water from a nearby source and from the Golden Stream.
   The road to the town led through three gates: Upper, Lower and Nicholas. The gates were built on a rectangular or square plan with vaulted passages and perhaps smaller pedestrian gates. Above them were rooms for the guards, who was obliged to close the gates at certain times, as well as on market days, in order to hinder the movement of thieves and frauds. More important were the Upper and Lower gates, located at the main route, more richly equipped with stone details, especially with religious sculptures. Probably in the 15th century they were extended with necks to connect with the outer perimeter of the walls.
   The castle was extended in front of the town fortifications perimeter on a small elevation in the southwestern part of the town and created a mutual defense system with them. It had three wings with a large tower from the northeast.

Current state

   The best preserved fragments of fortifications can now be seen at Mickiewicza, Kubika or Partyzantów streets. A tower has also has been preserved, which houses the seat of the Bolesławiec Photographic Society. The Bolesławiec castle did not survive to modern times.

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bibliography:
Bachmiński J., Bolesławiec, Warszawa 1970.

Leksykon zamków w Polsce, red. L.Kajzer, Warszawa 2003.
Pilch J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Dolnego Śląska, Warszawa 2005.
Przyłęcki M., Mury obronne miast Dolnego Śląska, Wrocław 1970.