Głubczyce – town defensive walls


   The first town walls of Głubczyce, consisting of an earth rampart, a moat and a palisade, were built in the second quarter of the 13th century. Starting from the south-east to the west, the system was supported the Psina river and marsh floodplain. In 1275, king Ottokar II confirmed old town rights and gave the town of Głubczyce a new law, which was called the Głubczyce Law. The granted legal status was accelerated by the construction of the town’s stone fortifications, begun in the third quarter of the 13th century. Soon after, it was fully surrounded by a defensive wall, which was first recorded in written sources in 1282.
   In 1436, the prince of Racibórz, Nicholas, attacked and plundered the town. This first conquest of the town could be a reason for townspeople to repair and modernize the fortifications.
In 1476 a great fire destroyed the entire Głubczyce. Fires took place again in 1481 and 1603. They destroyed the timber elements of the fortifications: the roofs of town gates and towers, guard porches. With the development of firearms, gradually the medieval defensive walls lost their importance. During the Thirty Years’ War, the town was additionally secured with earth ramparts. Their construction caused a change of the area directly adjacent to the town walls and destroyed part of the of Upper and Lower suburbs. The demolition of the walls began in 1764 on the basis of a royal decree. At the beginning of the 19th century, the town gates were demolished to widen the entrance to the Głubczyce, and in the 20th century, parks were established in the river backwaters.


   The town wall was made of clay slate, it was 5-6 meters high and 2-3 meters wide. The addition of up to 1.8 meters of crenellation gave a total height of about 9 meters, a typical height of medieval town walls. The fortifications surrounded a 16-hectare space with about 226 houses. The circumference of the walls had the outline of an irregular oval resembling an equilateral triangle.
   The Głubczyce defense walls were reinforced with 19 towers, three gatehouses and a moat. Seven towers were built on a semi-circular projection, and 12 on an unusual pointed projection. Originally they had a conical roofs covered with shingles, which was located above the guard porch. In the 15th century or at the turn of the 15th and the 16th centuries, some of them were rebuilt and raised, some topped with a dome at the top. The largest number of towers, as many as 9, had a section of walls between the Upper Gate and the Monastery Gate. Between the gates of Monastery and the Lower Gate there were 3 towers, while the longest of the sections of the wall, between the Lower Gate and the Upper, had only 7 towers. The distance between the towers on individual sections of the wall depended on natural factors. The southern part of the town was adjacent to the backwaters of the Psina river and the swamp area, whereas the vicinity of the Upper Gate up to the Grobnicka Gate was a clay land area that crossed a narrow strip of wetland near the town.
To the town led the Grobnicka Gate (or Monastery), standing near the Franciscan church in the eastern part of the circuit, the Upper Gate (Nysa Gate) from the north and the Lower Gate (Opava Gate) in the south. From the outer side of the town, all gates since the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries were additionally reinforced by foregates, consisting of a short neck and an additional building with a passage. The Upper Gate, compared to the towers of the other gates, was tall, impressive and its size could compete with the towers of the Gothic parish church. It also had wooden, metal-forged doors and a portcullis. In the room above the passage there was a powder magazine and a mechanism that activated the portcullis.
   The tower of the Grobnicka Gate was erected on a quadrilateral plan with dimensions of 8.9 x 8.5 meters, with 2 meters thick walls in the ground floor. It had a gateway 3.2 meters wide, narrowed from the field side and probably closed with a semicircular arch. It was located in a large pointed-arched niche that acted as a guide for the lowered portcullis. At a height of about 10 meters, there was an offset on the wall, which could indicate the hoarding porch originally was located there. The oldest foregate of the Grobnica Gate had the form of a straight neck formed together with the gate tower. It was about 12 meters long, 5.7 meters wide, and was slightly shifted to the south in relation to the tower. At the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries, a four-sided foregate building with dimensions of 8×10 meters was erected in the place of the neck, reinforced at the outer corners with diagonal buttresses.
    The outer zone of defense constituted swamps and backwaters of the Psina river from the south and southeast, which waters fed the town moat, protecting the town from the west and north. In the 14th century, two ponds were created, which further strengthened the outer zone of the town. Washerwoman Pond was located from the south-west and was divided by a dyke where the bridge was located. It used the natural course of the river, which influenced it and flowed south from the Grobnicka Gate. The second pond, known as Monastery, was located on the north-eastern side of the town and was also naturally powered with water from the stream.

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Legendziewicz A., Selected City Gates in Silesia – research issues, “Czasopismo Techniczne”, vol. 3, Kraków 2019.

Webpage muzeum.powiatglubczycki.pl, Głubczyckie mury obronne.