Pyrzyce – city defensive walls

History

   In the early Middle Ages, a wood and earth stronghold, which was an important center of Pyrzyczanie tribe, existed in the place of a later town. It was first mentioned in 1124 in the Life of Saint Otto of Bamberg, who led the missionary action at the initiative of prince Bolesław Krzywousty. In 1186, Pyrzyce was mentioned as a castellan hillfort with an existing market settlement. To the west, a new town was located, which in 1263 received the Magdeburg Law, and after the breakup of Pomerania it found in the Duchy of Szczecin.
   The town walls of Pyrzyce began to be built in the 13th century.
From the town location to the beginning of the fourteenth century the main ring of the walls with the half towers was built, and by the middle of the fourteenth century the town gates were rebuilt and some of the towers were closed from the town side. The quick construction was due to the fact that the toen was an important center of the agricultural region and was located at the intersection of the main trade routes from Szczecin to Wielkopolska and from Magdeburg to Kołobrzeg. It quickly got rich on the trade and development of the weaving and drapery craft. Further strengthening works took place in the 15th century, when the fortified wall was raised and more towers were added. The 16th century brought the expansion of the defense system, related to the popularization of artillery. Bastions and earth ramparts were erected and gates were raised higher. By 1574, the invasions of the Brandenburg, Polish and Hussite armies did not break through the Pyrzyce walls.
  
After 1750 a part of the embankments was spanned, and in the years 1830-1845 turned into a promenade. The moats were fill up about 1860, in their place the gardens were established. The Bańska and Szczecin foregates were also demolished. In the nineteenth century, the towers had economic functions, and they were also adapted to housing for the poor. In 1879, a fragment of a wall in the Szeroka Street was demolished and many pedestrian crossings were pierced. During World War II, the Szczecin Gate and the Monk Tower were destroyed, as well as the ruined upper floors of towers  and the Bańska Gate. Since 1945 the town fortifications have been systematically repaired and preserved.

Architecture

   Medieval defensive walls surround Pyrzyce on an irregular oval plan, similar in shape to a rounded trapezoid. The length of the circumference was about 2200 meters. The walls are made of ceramic bricks in monk bond and set on a pedestal of glacial erratics. Its height reached 7-9 meters. Originally, they were reinforced with 44 half towers, spaced about 27-30 meters each. The quadrilateral half towers were dominated, sporadically semicircular, open from the side of the town, about 6 – 7 meters. wide, three-storey. In the ground floor materials for defense were deposited, the second floor was a guard room, and the third floor was the level of defense with the arrowslits. Half towers slightly extend beyond the crown of the wall (1-2 meters), had battlement or were covered with a saddle roof. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries some of them were transformed into full towers by bricking open parts from the town side.
  
Two gates led to the town: Bańska in the south and Szczecińska in the north. The Szczecin Gate was from the middle of the 14th century. In the 16th century, it was raised. It was a four-storey and two-stepped gate, in the lower part quadrangular, and in the upper with octagonal, cornered with turrets and topped with a pyramid helmet. The Bańska Gate is two-stepped: the lower, four-storey part, was laid on a square plan with two butresses, the upper part no longer exists, the octagonal had a pyramid helmet. Both gates were equipped with a foregates. On the outside the town walls were surrounded by earth ramparts and moats. On the north, west and south sides, earth ramparts were even double. It was becouse of a flat area of ​​the town, devoided of natural defenses: large rivers, swamps, or lakes. The distance of the earth ramparts from the wall ranged from 15 to 70 meters.

Current state

   At present, Pyrzyce town walls are one of the best preserved in Poland. They survived in about 80-90% of their original length. Losses occur only in the south and east. From the original defensive system are preserved: Bańska Gate, Owl Tower, Ice Tower, Powder Tower, Drunk Tower, the ruins of Sleeping Beauty Tower and Monk Tower and about 30 half towers. The greatest loss is the destruction during the last war of the Szczecin Gate from which only a part of the ground has survived.

show Bańska Gate on map

show Owl Tower on map

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bibliography:
Lukas E, Średniowieczne mury miejskie na Pomorzu Zachodnim. Poznań 1975.
Pilch.J, Kowalski S., Leksykon zabytków Pomorza Zachodniego i ziemi lubuskiej, Warszawa 2012.