Prudnik – city defensive walls

History

   Prudnik’s fortifications were probably built in the 14th century. The prince Boleslaw I of Niemodlin, the first Piast owner of the town and a good host. The defensive circuit was mentioned for the first time in written sources in 1327, when the expedition of prince Bolesław of Brzeg through Prudnik and Głubczyce to Racibórz took place. The next certain information about the Lower Gate appeared only in 1481. Most of the defensive walls were pulled down in the 19th century.

Architecture

   The area of the medieval town with the castle was less than 13 hectares and the length of the city walls was about 1100 meters. In the early period, the town was surrounded by a stone wall with two town gates. The circuit was reinforced with 3 cornerer towers built simultaneously with the walls. In addition, at the Lower Gate and the Upper Gate, also called Nyska, there were flanking towers. The Upper Gate led towards Nysa and Głuchołazy, while the Lower Gate was facing Biała and Głogówek.
   In the fifteenth century, the fortifications were expanded. At that time, the gate and corner towers were raised by brick storeys. Another reconstruction took place in the second half of the 16th century, when the construction of buildings accompanying one of the corner towers began, thus creating the so-called Arsenal.
   The oldest fragments of the Lower Gate complex were built of uunworked stones laid in layers, forming walls about 2 meters thick. A square tower and a gateway adjacent to the north were created from them. The top of the tower is unknown, but it can be assumed that it was a battlement, perhaps covered with a hip roof. Its height was originally not large, it was about 10 meters and slightly higher than the crown of the defensive wall. The entrance led from the north at the height of the first floor, above the gateway. In the ground floor there was a prison dungeon, initially covered with a wooden ceiling. The gate passage was preceded by a foregate, topped with a battlement and a combat platform located at a height of 6 meters. In the second half of the 15th century, a 5-meter-high brick superstructure was built in place of the dismantled top of the tower, and a wooden hoarding porch was made around the upper part, at a height of about 11 meters. It circled the crown of the tower walls from the east, north and probably south. Its structure was based on wooden supports embedded in the wall. The whole was probably crowned with a high hip roof with a ridge. In the interior, above the prison dungeon, a brick barrel vault with an hatch opening was installed, while a cross vault was formed above the passage. The last reconstruction from around 1580 led to the demolition of the roof along with hoarding, in place of which a 7-meter high, two-story octagonal part was erected with the facades pierced with key arrowslits. The tower was topped with a slender spire around which a defensive gallery was built. The rainwater was discharged from it by four stone gargoyles, one on each side of the world.
   The circumference of the main defensive walls was preceded by the second line of the lower ring of the zwinger walls and an irrigated moat. At least from the end of the Middle Ages, like the main defensive wall, it was topped with a roofed defensive wall-walk and an straight breastwork with loop holes for handguns. The north-west corner of the town was occupied by a castle.

Current state

   At present, only the tower of the Lower Gate and a fragment of the wall with an arsenal and two towers: Executioner and Little on the corner of Boleslaw Chrobry and Boleslaw Krzywousty streets are preserved. This fragment was recently revitalized. Both towers received new roofs, and the missing bricks were also replenished. In addition, the Executioner Tower was elevated and equipped with a battlement. The aim of the project was to recreate and restore the medieval character of the two towers. In the arsenal building is the seat of the Prudnik Museum. In the archaeological and historical section, it collects memorabilia concerning the history of the town and the southern part of the Opole region, and in the ethnographic section document the folk culture of these lands. You can see militaria, old documents or souvenirs related to Silesian uprisings.

show Lower Gate’s Tower on map

show Executioners Tower on map

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bibliography:
Legendziewicz A., Problematyka badawczo-konserwatorska wybranych zespołów bramnych na Śląsku [w:] Obwarowania miast – problematyka ochrony, konserwacji, adaptacji i ekspozycji. Materiały Międzynarodowej Konferencji Naukowej, red. A. Górski, Kożuchów 2010.
Legendziewicz A., Selected City Gates in Silesia – research issues, “Czasopismo Techniczne”, vol. 3, Kraków 2019.

Website skladnica-gornoslaska.pl, Miasto Prudnik i miejskie mury obronne.