Wieluń – town defensive walls


   Town walls of Wieluń was erected during the reign of Kazimierz the Great, probably around the middle of the 14th century as part of the reconstruction of the town after the fire of 1335. Their sponsor was probably the king. Works at the town fortifications could be continued at the end of the fourteenth century, because in the years 1370-1395 Wieluń land was ruled by Wladyslaw Opolczyk, who embosom Wieluń with special care.
In the 15th century the town walls were renovated and probably expanded. The need to maintain the fortifications in high efficiency was due to the threat from Silesia. Around the middle of the century Wieluń was attacked several times, with the last invasion of Janusz of Oświecim in 1457, ended with the capture and burning of the town. The town walls and the castle, which were destroyed, were then repaired.
Further serious modernization of fortifications occurred in the 16th century. There were probably half-rounded towers from outside to the walls. In the sixteenth century a third town gate was built. Works continued during the reign of Stefan Batory, who for the remodeling of the walls allocated income from the town administrator. During the war of succession for the crown between Austrian Maximilian and the supporters of Zygmunt III in 1587 defense walls suffered, among others the fragment of the wall and the Dąbrowska gate was destroyed. Damages were repaired immediately and were not limited to repairs of existing components, but also included extensive redevelopment and construction of new defenses. Battlement and arrowslits in the defensive wall were repaired, towers roofs were made, and the two main gates were repaired. In 1591 the tower of the Rudzka Gate was finally erected in the form of a octagon. It is also known about the construction of two new towers. This modernization was the last extension of the fortifications of Wieluń. Since then, there has been a recession.
At the beginning of the 17th century, the Bernardines settled in the southwestern part of the town. The church and monastery buildings were excluded from the defense and separated from the rest of the town wall. The weakening of the fortifications was also a knock off of the wicket gates in the northern part of the perimeter. The final blows of the town fortifications were carried out by the Swedish wars, and the first planned demolition of fortifications took place in 1823. After the last war significant parts of the walls of Wieluń have been preserved.


   Line of fortification formed a form of oval slightly flattened from the south-west and extended to the northeast, which should be attributed to topographical conditions. The area of ​​the town was 12 hectares, and the length of the wall lines was about 1300 meters. The urban housing was concentrated around the market. Along the fortifications was a free area strip. Only the castle located in the south-eastern part of the district was adjacent to the town walls. On the opposite side of the town, in the northwestern part of the town, near the fortifications was erected church and the Augustinian monastery.
   The defensive wall in Wieluń was built of stone and was 1.8 meters thick and at least 8-8.5 meters high. The original culmination is not known, but one may think that, as in other objects, the wall ended with a battlement. In the 16th century the wall’s culmination was completely rebuilt. It was topped with a straight parapet with a row of blendes and arrowslits. In addition, the larger artillery arrowslits were pierced at some distances.
The primary fortifications of Wieluń did not have towers. Existing and iconographic objects do not correspond to the architectural form and spacing of tower types used in the fourteenth century. Wieluń fortifications were strengthened by several towers only as part of the expansion of the fortifications. The oldest stone-brick tower is located at the turn of the fortified line, in the north-eastern part of the circuit. It has an octagon shape placed on the quadrilateral ground part. A tower built probably in the fifteenth century could serve as a watchtower and a stand-alone point of resistance. The necessity to meet the requirements of the new war technique caused in the sixteenth century the construction of typical semi-circular artillery towers from the south-west, north and east of the fortifications. So the town had a total of four towers. Some of them have their names. Documents from the end of the 16th century listed the towers of “Swawola”, “Red Tower” and “Torture Chamber“. But their identification is difficult.
Wieluń had originally two main town gates. From the east, Rudzka Gate, also known as Cracow’s Gate, and from the west Dąbrowska, or Kaliska. The gates were located in rectangular towergates. Rudzka had dimensions in the plan of about 9 x 8.5 meters and a triangular pass with a width of 3.5 meters. The gates initially barely exceeded the defensive wall. They were crowned with perhaps a battlement and closed with portcullis. The second closure was the door. Entrance to the gates led through the levees and bridges over the wide moats. In the modern period the gates were seriously expanded. The tower of the Rudzka Gate was already one storey in the 15th century, and in 1591 it received a double octagonal crown. An additional entry defense was built at the end of the sixteenth century, at the northern side of the gate, an out-door powder house with a corner tower. Probably in the 16th century a new gate, Gaszyńska, was built in the southern part of the circuit. During construction or later it was reinforced with a turret mounted to the east side of the proper gate.
Wieluń had very favorable natural conditions, surrounded by numerous ponds and springs. Attached to one water system, they probably formed before the construction of the ramparts, a wide moat around the town. It was crossed by levees and bridges that led to the town gates. The castle was situated in the south-eastern part of the town. It had a four-sided form measuring approximately 30 x 50 meters; it was surrounded by a wall and a moat connected with the town fortifications.

Current state

   In Wieluń there are significant parts of the town fortifications. The Rudzka Gate, located in the eastern part of the circuit, was incorporated into the town hall building in 1842, while adjacent to both sides the sections of the walls formed its eastern and outer wall. Approximately 30 meters north of the Rudzka Gate, a fragment of the half-rounded tower preserved. The relics of the walls go in parallel and perpendicular to the line of the defensive wall. These are the remnants of a powder house, adjoining from the outside to the fortifications. The second object at this section is the massive tower located at the bend of the fortification line, in the north-eastern part of the perimeter. In the northern part of the district, at Palestrancka 9 street, a semi-circular artillery tower with an adjacent section of the wall of approximately 10 meters long has survived. Another part of the stone wall survives in the south-west part of the fortifications, as an external wall of the buildings of the former Bernardine monastery.

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Tomala J., Murowana architektura romańska i gotycka w Wielkopolsce, tom 2, architektura obronna, Kalisz 2011.

Widawski J., Miejskie mury obronne w państwie polskim do początku XV wieku, Warszawa 1973.