Lubań in the early Middle Ages was a Slavic settlement located on the trade route at the ferry across the Kwisa River, at the intersection of roads leading from Silesia to the Bohemia, Lusatia and Meissen. The town was located under the Magdeburg Law before 1268, which initiated the intensive development of Lubań (Lauben), which was then fortified with wood and earth ramparts. The erection of stone defensive walls began either at the beginning of the 14th century or around 1318, when Waldemar, Margrave of Brandenburg, Lord of Lower and Upper Lusatia, was to initiate construction works.
Originally, only one line of defensive walls was built. It is difficult to say exactly when the second ring of fortifications was built. It could have happened both in the fourteenth century and in the first half of the next century. In the second half of the 15th century, two of the gates were reinforced with foregates, and in the 16th century, the outer perimeter was reinforced with half-round bastions. Efforts were made to keep the walls in good condition at that time. The town law prohibited the storage of dung, setting up pigsties, henhouses or stables in their area. The guilds were responsible for defense and renovation, hence the names of the towers were most often derived from the names of guilds. In the second half of the 17th century, due to the Turkish threat, most of the outer bastions were rebuilt or new ones were built in their place.
The fortifications of Lubań had the first serious test during the Hussite wars. In 1427, Czech troops approached the town and on the same day stormed the fortifications in the south-west section several times. They captured one tower and made a breach in the wall, but eventually they had to withdraw. On the next day, the townspeople made an armed trip to the opponents’ camp at Kapliczna Mountain, but they had to retreat, and the Hussites chasing them broke into the town. Another attack took place in 1431. At that time, the focus was on the defense of the monastery complex and the Bracka Gate, but after undermining the gate tower in two places, the townspeople capitulated.
The next military operations took place during the Thirty Years’ War. Medieval fortifications were already outdated then, although they had not yet lost all defensive values. Moreover, in 1627 they were renovated at the initiative of the city council. In 1632, the Saxon colonel Albrecht von Kalckstein ordered the bridges in front of the gates to be destroyed, the Bracka and Nowogrodziecka gates to be bricked up and the moat to be filled with water. For a change, the Swedish army tried twice: in 1639 and 1641 to dismantle the fortifications in order to prevent the future defense of the town. The first time, however, the mayor managed to bribe a Swedish officer, and the second time, the demolition work was stopped before it reached considerable size.
In the 18th century, during the Seven Years’ War, the town fortifications were completely obsolete, they only allowed the control of people, animals and goods coming to Lubań. In the area between the wall, gardens were established, and warehouses were installed in the towers. In the 19th century, medieval fortifications and narrow entrances became an obstacle to the spatial development of the town. In 1832, the fortifications of the Mikołajska Gate were demolished, and four years later the barbican of the Bracka Gate was removed. At the end of the 1850s, the fortifications of the Nowogrodziecka Gate were pulled down. Then the demolition of defensive walls, towers and bastions also began than.
In Lubań, significant fragments of the defensive walls have survived to this day: on the north-west side (best visible at Podwale Street), three towers, two of which are significantly lowered, and the Bracka Tower, once an element of the defense of the Bracka Gate. The tower is open to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday.
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