The defensive walls of Szydłów were erected in the times of Casimir the Great, probably after the middle of the 14th century. It must be assumed that the construction began on the south and east, which were the least protected by natural conditions. Probably in the middle of the fifteenth century there was a general reconstruction of the town walls and the castle. In a large part of the circumference, it concerned probably only the repairing of the old wall and the conversion of the battlement. However, there are indications that at least in the castle area, the defensive wall ran slightly differently, closer to the edge of the slope. As part of this reconstruction, the foregate was added to the Cracow Gate, and probably to Opatowska Gate.
The second major reconstruction of fortifications occurred in the 16th century. It took over the tower of the Cracow Gate, probably the Opatowska Gate, and the piercing in the wall two wicket gates: at the church and at the castle grounds. The whole of the perimeter was probably repaired as the face of the wall carries traces of multiple builds. This reconstruction probably occurred in the second half of the 16th century and was associated with the privilege of Zygmunt August of 1565 giving the town the income from the sale of alcohol for the repair of the walls.
In 1630, thanks to medieval fortifications, Szydłów resisted the troops of the rebellious troops. The destruction of the town during the Swedish war in 1655 was the beginning of the collapse of the fortifications, since it were not repaired. The lustration of 1789 recorded the walls already partially collapsed. In 1822 the ruins of the walls and the castle were put up for auction, with the intention of demolishing them. The fact that there was no amateur to buy, rescued Szydłów fortifications. Only in the second half of the nineteenth century, the Opatowska Gate collapsed. Today’s state of fortification is owed to conservation authorities, who in the 1920s paid attention to the destructive and slowly dismantled monuments and undertook security work. For the second time more serious conservation work was undertaken just after the last war, in 1946.
The defensive walls in Szydłów are one of the best preserved medieval fortifications in Poland. They existing on large sections at full altitude, the walls contain nearly two thirds of the perimeter and one town gate. The longest, over two hundred meters fragment is located on both sides of the south-eastern corner of the town, in the area of the church. In its eastern part, it is preserved to full height with a crenelation, partially reconstructed. In the southern part of the circuit is the Cracow Gate. Its rear wall and partially lateral are not retained. Another longer section of the wall lies in the western side of the town, starting at the south of the castle, and then forming the western outer part of the castles courtyard. It is preserved on full length and full height with partially reconstructed battlement. The fifty meter section of the wall retained to full altitude in the northern part of the town, behind the synagogue is the least contaminated by reconstructions. The last stretch of the wall is in the north-eastern part of the town.
Architektura gotycka w Polsce, red. M.Arszyński, T.Mroczko, Warszawa 1995.
Widawski J., Miejskie mury obronne w państwie polskim do początku XV wieku, Warszawa 1973.