The first fortifications of Oleśnica, which are mentioned in the act of city location from 1255, were of wood and earth construction. After taking over the rule in the principality by Konrad I in 1320, brick walls were started to be built next to the existing earth ramparts. Their construction could last several dozen years, even up to 1380. After the incorporation of around 1400 into the city area of the church of St. Mary and St. George, a new section of walls was made, covering both temples and a new gate tower, later called St Mary Gate.
In 1432 Oleśnica was occupied by Hussites under the command of Prokop the Great, but they did not have to capture the city, because earlier the princes retreated and set the castle on fire. With the development of artillery equipment, the walls and gates were adapted to the new conditions. Around 1532, the second, outer ring of fortifications was begun to be built. It provided an increased resistance of the walls to artillery fire and at the same time allowed to place own cannons on the zwinger. For unknown reasons, it was built only on a small section of it at the former Wrocław Gate.
At the end of the Thirty Years War, at the behest of the Swedish general Wittenberg, the fortifications were to be demolished and the moats were to be filled up, but this was not done. In the mid-18th century, the defensive importance of the walls disappeared. The houses and cells were built on both sides, vegetable gardens were created in the moats. City gates served the functions of controlling people entering the city and collecting fees. In 1868, three of the four city gates that disrupted the transport of goods were demolished. Remained Wroclaw Gate, destruction of which was against, among others, future Emperor Frederick III, during his visit to Oleśnica. In 1945, the tower did not suffer, although burnt adjacent houses.
Defensive wall, depending on the place, had a height of about 7-8 meters, and at the gates it reached up to 10 meters. It was crowned with battlements and had guard porches. Its total length was about 1500-1600 meters. Most probably, in the fifteenth century, the curtain wall was reinforced with open, rectangular half towers.
Four gate towers led to the city: in the western part the Wrocław Gate also called Trzebnicka, in northern Syców Gate, in southern Oława Gate and in the eastern part Namysłów Gate also called Cows Gate. The Syców Gate was pulled down in 1400 and replaced with St. Mary’s Gate after expanding the walls. The gate towers had various shapes and finials. According to Werner’s engraving, one of them was octogonal. The city was surrounded by a moat with a width of 7 to 15 meters, supplemented with water of the Oleśnica river. In some places the marshes and swamps of the river backwaters played the moat role.
Up to now, the defensive walls of Oleśnica have survived on a very large part of the circuit, but unfortunately they are largely lowered. The highest fragments of the wall are located near the church of St. George. The most interesting surviving element of fortifications is the gatehouse of the Wroclaw Gate.
Pilch J, Leksykon zabytków architektury Dolnego Śląska, Warszawa 2005.
Przyłęcki M., Budowle i zespoły obronne na Śląsku, Warszawa 1998.
Przyłęcki M., Mury obronne miast Dolnego Śląska, Wrocław 1970.
Website eksploratorzy.com.pl, Oleśnica – mury obronne, baszty i Wieża Bramy Wrocławskiej.