Szczecin – city defensive walls

History

   Already in the 7th and 6th centuries BC on the west bank of the Odra there was a hillfort of people from the Lusatian culture, and in the early Middle Ages an important Pomeranian wood and earth stronghold, defending the Oder river ford and being the center of the pagan cult of the Pomorzans. At the end of the tenth century incorporated into the Polish borders, after the death of Boleslaw Chrobry in 1025, it transformed into an independent merchant republic, again subordinated to Poland in 1121 by Bolesław Krzywousty. In 1189, the Szczecin settlement was conquered and burnt by the Danes, but it was quickly rebuilt thanks to the German and Flemish settlers for whom prince Barnim I in 1237-1243 established the town under Magdeburg law, from 1295 raised to the capital of the Pomeranian Duchy.
   By the middle of the 13th century, Szczecin had wooden-earth fortifications. The first mention of the defensive walls dates back to 1283. Their construction had to take a long time, as in 1318 there was a dispute between the City Council and the Franciscan Order concerning the financing of its construction in the area of the church and the monastery. At the turn of the 13th and 14th the town was already surrounded by a wall and moat, whose course did not change until the 18th century. City fortifications were subsequently strengthened several times, for example by extension of city gates or deepening of the moat. The destruction of almost all of the medieval walls was a result of the construction of new fortifications of the Szczecin fortress by Frederick William I. In the second half of the 18th century the remains were demolished and the existing moat sections were covered.

Architecture

   The defensive walls of Szczecin were built of stone and brick. The interior of the wall was a stone debris laced with lime mortar. The wall had a height of about 5 to 8-9 meters. The bricks were laid in a monk bond (two stretcher and one header) or flemish bond (stretcher and header). Its thickness at the base was up to 2 meters and gradually decreased up to 1 meter. Access to city walls from the town side enabled narrow streets, located in parallel with their course.
  
The fortifications were reinforced with rectangular or semicircular half towers, most of which over time were rebuilt to closed towers form. In addition to the rectangular towers, city walls had cylindrical towers, built as independent defense works. There were 46 towers, including 9 cylindrical towers and 37 half towers. To the city led gates: Mill Gate from north, Virgin gate from north-east, Holy Ghost Gate from south and Passawska from south-west. Over time they have been expanded of foregates. In addition there were 7 water wicket gates and two passages, located on the waterfront. The entire fortification ring was surrounded by an earth ramparts and a moat which was filled with water on the north side, while the south was dry.

Current state

   From the old medieval fortifications to our time, only Virgin Tower, also known as the Tower of the Seven Coats, is preserved, as well as a fragment of the wall at Podgórna Street. Historians link the name of the Seven Coats Tower to the guild of tailors, who laid down for the maintenance of the building.

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

Website encyklopedia.szczecin.pl, Średniowieczne mury obronne Szczecina.