Kežmarok – city defensive walls

History

Kežmarok received town privilege as early as in 1269 from king Bela IV, and was surrounded by defensive walls probably before 1368. In 1433, they did not provide security against the Hussites who captured the city. After their departure, the fortifications were modernized, although initially the townspeople planned to completely demolish the damaged town walls. This was prevented by the intervention of emperor Sigismunt, who ordered to re-fortify and secure the town. Then the outer line of the lower wall was added, as well as numerous towers. Already in the seventeenth century, however, they were heavily damaged, and its final end took place during the battles of the imperial army with Kurucs (anti-Habsburg rebels) in the the seventeenth and eighteenth century and during the demolition works in the nineteenth century.

Architecture

The defensive walls were built of erratic stones. Their length was about 2000 meters, a height of about 5 meters and a thickness of 1,5 to 2 meters. Walls closed an irregular, extended area of 20.5 ha. They had a slit arrowslits, and from the side of the city, guard’s sidewalk was running around. In the fifteenth century, they were reinforced with semi-circular, open half towers and with an additional perimeter of the outer, lower defensive wall. Three gates led to the city: Furriers, High and Lower, also known as Polish Gate, which were later reinforced with foregates and barbicans. Later, the New Gate functioned, however, it was not original, but it was rebuilt from the town tower. The city’s moat was supplied by the waters of Poprad and the Lubica stream. The city defensive walls were linked to fortifications of the Kežmarok castle.

Current state

Only a part of the barbican of the old Lower Gate and modest fragments of fortifications have survived to the present day, mainly in the southern part of the city at Bastova street and a tower in the south-eastern part of the circuit.

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bibliography:
Sypek A., Sypek.R., Zamki i obiekty warowne Słowacji Wschodniej, Warszawa 2005.
Website kezmarok-sk.szm.com, 0pevnenie mesta Kežmarku.