Gryfino – city defensive walls

History

    The town was founded by the prince of Szczecin Barnim I in 1254. Thanks to numerous privileges, it began to develop and expand quickly and, as a consequence, to get rich, which required proper protection. Probably the first timber and earth fortifications began to be built after the location of the town, then a ditch was dug and a earth rampart was built. The construction of the town walls began at the end of the 13th or at the beginning of the 14th century. The first mention of it comes from 1314. In the fifteenth century, in connection with the development of the art of war, fortifications were modernized. Already during the Thirty Years’ War, however, the walls, especially in the western section, often washed by the Regalica waters, did not have military significance. A string of brick walls along the Oder river along with the Bridge Gate was demolished by the Swedes in 1640. In the 18th century, walls began to be dismantled step by step, the foregates were removed and earth ramparts were leveled. Floods in 1780 and 1830 destroyed the remains of the walls along the Regalica. After 1876, long sections of the wall were demolished from the north-west and east side and the Szczecin Gate was dismantled.

Architecture

    The town walls were built of glacial erratic stones, laid in thick layers, leveled every approximately 1 meter with fine, small stones. Land sides were constructed in this way, from the side of the river walls were erected from bricks. The length of the entire defensive circuit was 1785 meters. The walls originally reached a height of about 9 meters. It were reinforced at regular intervals by 48 half towers on a rectangular plan, open from the town side.
    
Fortifications were expanded in the fifteenth century. At that time, an additional earth rampart was erected from the east, the gates were given foregates and were raised, and probably in the place of the six half towers, closed towers were built, including at least two two-stepped. There was a fortified pre-bridge in the form of a tower or gate on the Odra backwaters.
   
Three gates originally led to the town: Bańska (formerly St. George) from the south-east, Szczecin (Wikowa) from the north and Bridge (Ferry) from the west. In addition to these three main gates, there were three smaller ones and one wicket gate leading to the port. On the north-west side, in one of the half towers, there was a small passage called the Monarch Gate, and right next to the Szczecin Gate, through the two passages in the wall, the mill channel was flowing.
    The Bańska Gate was built in the fourteenth century from erratic stones, and it was superstructured in the fifteenth century by bricks.
It was founded on a rectangular plan with dimensions of 8×8,5 meters. Wall thickness ranges from 1,65 to 2,2 meters. In the Middle Ages, it had a foregate consisting of a low front gate, connected to a gate with a narrow neck. Inside, it had two low floors on a square plan. The original simple beam ceiling above the passage was later replaced with a vault. The chamber above the vault was the main room of the guard. Here niches have been preserved with arrowslits open to all sides and allowing fire in the line of walls, foregate fire, as well as street inside the town. Above, even before the first roof was created, there was a platform surrounded by battlement. During the fight about 15-20 people could defend on it. At the beginning of the 16th century, to gain a wider field of view, the gate was built up with a cylindrical turret with a crown in the form of a brick cone.

Current state

    To this day, defensive walls have been preserved with a total length of about 580 meters with the Bańska Gate and five half towers. Currently, the section of fortifications in the south-eastern corner of the town remains in the best condition. It is about 70 meters long and 4 meters high. Two fragments of the wall on both sides of Bolesław Chrobry street have survived, on the northern edge of the Old Town. The preserved Bańska Gate remains the symbol of the city.

show Bańska Gate on map

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bibliography:
Kuna M., Średniowieczne mury miejskie w powiecie gryfińskim na tle sieci miast warownych Pomorza Zachodniego i dawnej wschodniej Brandenburgii, “Rocznik Chojeński” nr 7, s.37-76, Chojna 2015.
Lukas E, Średniowieczne mury miejskie na Pomorzu Zachodnim. Poznań 1975.