The hillfort at Zawodzie was built in the swampy Prosna urstromtal around the 9th / 10th centuries, although uninterrupted settlements in Kalisz were found from the neolithic period through the Bronze Age, the early Iron Age, the pre-roman period and the period of roman influences. The above facts and the similarity of the medieval name Kalisz to ancient Kalisia, mentioned in 158 AD by Claudius Ptolemy, are the reason for recognizing Kalisz as the oldest center in Poland.
The foundation of the hillfort enlivened the development of the already existing craft settlement with the church of St. Adalbert and the creation of near, open, trade settlement. The complex of both settlements with time has become one of the most important politically and commercially castellan hillforts. According to Gal Anonim’s chronicles in 1106, Bolesław Krzywousty won and burned the hillfort after a fight with his brother Zbigniew. The greatest development of Zawodzie was experienced during the times of Mieszko III the Old, who expanded the settlement, and in the mid-twelfth century, he founded a new temple in the place of an older wooden one. It was a stone church in the romanesque style, dedicated to Saint Paul. After the death of the prince, for 30 years conflicts and struggles for the rights to Kalisz land lasted. In 1233, Henry the Bearded invaded the Greater Poland land, destroyed the Kalisz hillfort in Zawodzie, and then erected a new one, 1,5 km to the north, where the center of Kalisz is now located. From that time on, the old, destroyed hillfort was gradually degraded. The final end of the settlement was laid by the invasion of the Teutonic Order in 1331.
The 9th-century hillfort was a small stronghold with an oval shape. In the 10th and 11th century, changes were made to its layout. The hillfort was enlarged and divided into a sacral part and a residential and administrative part. Housing and farm functions have been taken over by numerous settlements in Zawodzie and the Old Town. At the end of the 12th century, due to frequent floods, the area of the hillfort was reduced and the defensive fortifications were significantly increased. In the fortifications circuit a defensive tower was built on stone foundations.
The church of St. Paul was a Romanesque, stone temple, located in the northern part of the stronghold. In the first phase it was a single-nave building, closed in the east with a shallow presbytery bay with an apse, and from the west with a four-sided tower. The latter had a characteristic form with longer sides located on the north-south line. In the second phase of expansion, the interior of the church was enriched by the western gallery, located in the nave and open to it. The entrance to it led through a staircase turret added on the south-west side, probably also connected to the main tower. Thus, the church had a clear gradation of height in three distinctive segments, ranging from the highest western (main tower) to the lowest eastern (apse). In the Kalisz church there was probably a merger of the local, Greater Poland tradition of equipping important princely foundations with a western massif with a tower on the axis, with a model of a three-part aisleless church spreading from the middle of the 12th century. This type was formed and spread in the Romanesque provincial architecture of Germany, strongly influencing the countries of Central Europe.
Currently, in the medieval hillfort of Zawodzie, in Kalisz, there is the Archaeological Reserve “Kaliski Gród Piastów”, which is a branch of the District Museum of the Kalisz Land. The entrance gate with the palisade and the bridge over the moat was reconstructed. In the course of the earth ramparts preserved to this day, the tower has been reconstructed. A part of the old, wood and earth fortifications was rebuilt and the foundations of the romanesque church were reconstructed, inside which the outline of the earlier wooden church was marked. Seven residential huts were also built, varying in size, wall construction and roofing, as well as purpose. These are huts: a saddler, a ruler, weaver, a servant’s hut, a knight’s cottage, a blacksmith and a potter. The reconstruction of the burial mound was also taken into account, and even the dugout boats were reconstructed. You can also take part in numerous outdoor events taking place in the hillfort.
Rodzińska – Chorąży T., Kościół pod wezwaniem św. Pawła na Zawodziu w Kaliszu – na tle architektury romańskiej [w:] Modus. Prace z historii sztuki IV, 2003.
Webpage cit.kalisz.pl, Kaliski Gród Piastów Zawodzie-Oddział Muzeum Okręgowego.