Otmuchów was granted town privilege by Bishop Przecław from Pogorzel (Preczlaw of Pogarell) in 1347, founding the town on German law. During his reign, the urban area was extended, and in 1369, the construction of new defensive walls began. It can be assumed that earlier the town had earth and wood fortifications, as the charter document designated area for the building within the moat (prout fossatorum). The construction of stone fortifications was completed around 1396.
In 1428, the town was captured by the Hussites, during an armed expedition, which defeated Bishop Konrad near Nysa. Again, the Hussites captured Otmuchów in 1430, when it was then surrendered by the castle administrator who was an ally of the Hussite movement. The Czechs left the town and the castle after five years taking a high ransom. For the third time they invaded the town in 1443 under the command of the knight Hynko Kruszyna. The ransom was paid in exchange for leaving the castle and the town this time after a year. After this difficult period, Otmuchów lost its position and rank to Nysa. The reconstruction of both the castle and the town walls was ordered by Bishop Jan IV Roth in the 1480s.
Another wave of plunder and destruction was brought to the town by the Thirty Years’ War during which Otmuchów, as part of the episcopal principality, was the target of Protestant armies. Obsolete fortifications have not saved the town from capturing, robberies, army quarters and contributions. It was first taken by Wallenstein’s troops, and then in the 1630s by the Swedish and Saxon armies. The second half of the 17th century brought some stability, but in 1741 during the First Silesian War, the town was shelled and was occupied by Prussian Marshal Schwerin. Demolition of ruined fortifications began in the second half of the 19th century.
The defensive walls in Otmuchów were built of stone and brick on an irregular plan resulting from the natural rolling of the area. The perimeter had the shape of an irregular polygon, protected from the south and partly west by a stream that flows in the south-east to Nysa Kłodzka. At the south-west corner, the fortifications were connected to the walls of the bishop’s castle situated on the hill. The ring of walls was probably not reinforced with towers, but only with a ditch from the outside.
The town had three gate towers: Mill from the south, Grodków Gate from the north and Nysa Gate from the east, now called Sparrow Gate. The Sparrow Tower was built in the second half of XIV century on a square plan. The bottom part is built of stone and in the upper is brick, the whole is currently covered with plaster. The pointed portal of the gate is made of stone. The tower has 14 arrowslits and 3 windows on the south side. Above the gate portal from the town side, on a large height, there was an entrance to the tower. At the ground floor there was a room with a barrel vault that could serve as a town prison.
The town walls have survived fragmentarily in several sections. The short section has been preserved near the Nysa Gate at Ogrodowa street, longer section at Cicha street and between the square at Mickiewicza street and allotment gardens. A fragment of fortifications with buttresses, south of the palace known as the lower castle has survived very well. The best preserved element is the Nysa (Sparrow) Gate, although its crown was transformed in the 16th century into a renaissance attic.
Steinborn B., Otmuchów, Paczków, Warszawa 1982.
Przyłęcki M., Miejskie fortyfikacje średniowieczne na Dolnym Śląsku. Ochrona, konserwacja i ekspozycja 1850 – 1980, Warszawa 1987.
Website eksploratorzy.com.pl, Otmuchów – Wieża Wróbla i mury obronne.