Żary – city defensive walls

History

   The origin of the town was a hillfort and a settlement located near the later erected castle. At the end of the 12th century, the borough, probably of a market function, was moved closer to the trade route called the Low Tract. In the new place there was a rapid development of the settlement, which in 1207 already had a church. The further development of Żary was ensured by the spatial reform of the settlement probably carried out by prince Henry the Bearded and the fact that Albrecht Dewin granted Magdeburg law in 1260.
   The construction of brick fortifications began in the 13th century when the town was managed by the Dewin family.
The privilege of their erection Żary received together with the mentioned location of the town in 1260. Previously there were wooden-earth fortifications.
  
Probably in the first half of the fifteenth century, due to widespread firearms and artillery and the threat of the Hussite troops, a second, much lower fortification was made, circulating from the south on the section between the gates. Historical reports tell about one threat to the town, in the middle of the 15th century, during the invasion of the Hussite troops. The defensive walls had rather a deterrent role here, as the strikers had left the ransom without fighting. In the eighteenth century they ceased to fulfill their original function, and not repaired fell into ruin.
  
At the beginning of the 19th century, abandoned fortifications proved to be an obstacle to the further development of the town. Therefore, in 1820, their complete demolition began.

Architecture

   The length of the circuit of the defensive walls in Żary was 1400 meters. The wall was built of layered stone. Its thickness was two meters and the height was up to eight meters. It was supplemented by a set of rectangular towers, which were connected with firing positions, placed in the upper part of the wall with wooden porches.
  
Access to the town was provided by two gates: Lower and Upper. They were located in the eastern and western part of the perimeter and were supplemented by narrow gates, which in case of danger were bricked. The second lane of the fortifications was built in the 15th century, the lower defensive wall was located in the southern section. At that time, they were set up a foregates, a few dozen meters away from the line of the old defensive walls, preceded by bridges.
  
The walls were surrounded by a moat, which ran in their immediate vicinity from the north and west. From the east, at the Lower gate, role of the moat were taken over by two ponds: the big one called “the masters” and the little one called “the mills”.

Current state

   The best preserved fragment of defensive fortifications in Żary is located in the south-western part of its course, on Cicha and Podwale streets, where a circular defense tower is also preserved. In the eastern part of the town, the defensive tower of the Lower Gate is preserved. At a distance of tens of meters, south of it, there is another tower of defense, which since the 16th century also served as the bell tower of the parish church.

show the tower of the Lower Gate on the map

show belfry / tower on the map

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

Website ziemialubuska.p, Obwarowania miejskie w Żarach.