The first defensive walls in Ząbkowice were erected when the town was founded in the second half of the 13th century. Initially it was a earth-wooden fortification, in part only made of stone. The town’s spatial layout, similar to today, was reclassified in the years 1300 – 1400 and in place of the wooden and stone fortifications, brick walls were built. At that time there were probably four town gates built on the outskirts of the town.
The third stage of expansion of the town’s fortifications came after the Hussites invasion in 1428, and another expansion and modernization of the town walls took place between 1516 and 1520, when, on the initiative of Prince Charles I Podiebradowicz, they were adapted for the use of firearms. At that time, semicircular and opened towers were set up with arrowslits, where fire could be routed along the curtains. In 1524, the prince began rebuilding the castle in the renaissance style on the site of a former, heavily damaged gothic castle. At that time, it was probably decided to include it in the area of urban fortifications as their essential element and changed the course of the walls in the section from the Dungeon Gate, moving it further towards the west. The last stage of the expansion of the town’s fortifications was in the 90’s of the 16th century and consisted in the construction of a lower outer ring.
In the second half of the 18th century, the walls became obsolete, useless and slowly fell into disrepair. At the beginning of the 19th century, the process of their demolition began, which lasted several dozen years. First, the town gates were removed to facilitate communication, and in 1898 a permit was issued to demolish part of the walls. Demolition works continued in the years 1900-1902, and even in the period 1930-1931.
The town was founded in an area with steeply falling slopes, surrounded by wetlands and flood waters of the Budzówka river. The oldest fortification circuit was a rectangular ring measuring 200 by 400 meters. The defensive walls were not reinforced with towers, and four gates were led to the town: Wrocławska, Kłodzka, Świdnicka and Ziębicka.
At the beginning of the 14th century fortifications were enlarged in the north-east direction, including the walls of dominican church and monastery. In the south, the town has expanded into so-called New Town, which was formed in front of the Ziębice Gate. Outside the town walls were the castle and the St George’s hospital. From the 15th century, the fortified walls had new arrowslits, semi-cylindrical half-towers and deep moats. Expansion of the 16th led to the formation of two rings of fortifications. The first, the interior of a height of about 8 meters, with every 50-60 meters semi-circular towers and the second, the outer one, which was 10 meters away.
The outer moat was only from the west and from the south and north-east. Between the outer and inner walls was also a narrow moat and zwinger. The earth dug at the mooring of the moat was used to bully the outer walls of a thick shaft, whose task was to weaken the effectiveness of artillery fire.
The oldest and best preserved fragment of the walls is the north-eastern section of the wall running at Sienkiewicz street. There is, among others Pigeon Tower, built from the inside of the timber framing. The rest of the walls date from the first half of the 16th century.
A great tourist attraction and symbol of the town is the Leaning Tower, whose current deviation from the vertical is over 2 meters. Originally it was a tower or gatehouse, which after moving the town walls, in the fourteenth century began to serve as the bell tower of the parish church. Completion of its reconstruction was probably in 1413, and in 1598 the tower leapt up 1.5 meter. Probably influenced by the tectonic movements in the nearby Bardo or the increased weight of the upper part.
Atlas historyczny miast polskich. Tom IV Śląsk, red. R.Czaja, M.Młynarska-Kaletynowa, zeszyt 17 Ząbkowice Śląskie, Toruń 2016.
Przyłęcki M., Miejskie fortyfikacje średniowieczne na Dolnym Śląsku. Ochrona, konserwacja i ekspozycja 1850 – 1980, Warszawa 1987.
Przyłęcki M., Mury obronne miast Dolnego Śląska, Wrocław 1970.
Website zabkowiceslaskie.pl, Mury obronne.