Stargard Szczeciński – city defensive walls

History

   From the 10th century, a Pomeranian hillfort was located here, mentioned in documents in 1140 and 1186, and next to it a trade and craft settlement, situated at the ferry on the Ina River, where important trade routes from Kamień and Wolin to Wielkopolska crossed, and from Szczecin to the east. In the 13th century, the town belonged to the West Pomeranian Duchy, from 1295 to the Wołogoszcz Duchy, and from 1368 to Słupsk Duchy. Thanks to the extremely favorable geographical position and income from trade, it developed quickly, despite disputes with Goleniów for the right to free navigation.
   The construction of Stargard’s defensive walls began after the town received its town privilege in 1243.
Slowly exchange of wooden and earthen fortifications to brick one ended around 1298. From the beginning of the 15th century to the mid-16th century, due to the threat of Brandenburg and the introduction of firearms, the old walls required modernization. At that time they were raised and some sections were completely rebuilt. In the length of fortifications numerous towers were erected and the town gates were expanded with an foregates. As a result, in the sixteenth century, Stargard was one of the most fortified towns in the Duchy of Pomerania.
   The period of prosperity was interrupted by the Thirty Years’ War, when in 1635 Stargard, defended by the Swedish garrison, was assaulted, burned, and the population murdered (hence the name of the Red Sea Tower). In the 18th century the walls lost their defensive value, which led to the demolition of more than half of the walls circuit.

Architecture

   The length of the Stargard Szczeciński fortifications ring was 2260 meters. It was strengthened with numerous half towers and nine closed towers of various forms. Among them were cylindrical towers based on a square base, like the Weavers Tower, Whitehead Tower, Red Sea Tower, and the whole cylindrical towers, like Captives Tower.
  
There are four gates to the town: the Pyrzyce Gate to the west, the Mill Gate also called Port or Water Gate to the north, the Shafts Gate to the east, and the Świętojańska Gate to the north-west. Land gates were strengthened in the 15th century, except for the Port Gate guarding the channel of the Mill Canal. It has two octagonal towers with a height of 28 meters, which protrude over the roof. Over the river bed from the outside there are two small guard windows, and three from the side of the town. The flow width is about 6 meters. The towers have arrowslits and battlement with brick pyramidal helmets.
  
In the southern part of the Old Town around the year 1500, the arsenal building stood. It is a 12,3 × 16,5 meters gothic building with walls decorated with glazed bricks. Originally, internal buttresses supported the timber ceilings, after the fire of 1635, two octagonal pillars supporting rib vaults were created and a wooden gallery was created around the walls. There was a warehouse and an armory in the basement, and the first floor served as a repair and production workshop for military equipment. Outside the walls, the access to the town prevented the deep moats, earth ramparts and river Ina.

Current state

   The length of fortifications maintained today is over one kilometer. From the old system of town fortifications, many fragments have survived, which today makes an important tourist attraction of the town. These include the Pyrzyce Gate, the Shafts Gate, the unique Mill Gate, the Red Sea Tower, the Weavers Tower and the Whitehead Tower. The best preserved fragment of the wall is the section at the Pyrzyce Gate. The Stargard’s arsenal is an exception in Pomerania, because in none of the cities there is a medieval building of similar character.

show Mill Gate on map

show Pyrzyce Gate on map

show arsenal on map

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bibliography:
Pilch.J, Kowalski S., Leksykon zabytków Pomorza Zachodniego i ziemi lubuskiej, Warszawa 2012

Website wikipedia.org, Mury obronne w Stargardzie.