Sabinov – city defensive walls


   The first written mention of Sabinov comes from the statute of king Bela IV from 1248. Its favorable location along the trade route leading through the Torys River valley was undoubtedly the decisive factor that attracted German colonists here. Sabinov was then a royal settlement, which in 1405 was promoted to the status of a free royal town. In 1472, king Matthias Corvinus extended Sabinov privileges and ordered the town to build defensive walls. Probably capture and completely burn down the town in 1461 by the bratříci (rebellious post-Hussite insurgents) probably had an impact on this decision. Construction of stone fortifications lasted from the seventies of the fifteenth century to the beginning of the sixteenth century.
   In the 17th and 18th centuries, the fortifications did not undergo too many repairs and modernizations, which was why they were able to protect the townspeople only in front of the smaller units of marauders and help with the duty collection. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the fortifications were no longer maintained. The moat was changed into gardens, the walls were gradually dismantled, and the towers belonging to the town were leased to residents for economic and housing purposes.


   Sabinov fortifications were erected on an irregular oval plan with 440 and 345 meters long axes. Their circumference was almost 1,400 meters in length. The defensive walls were 5 to 5.5 meters high plus about 2.5 meters of the breastwork defenses. Total wall height was 6.5 to 7.5 meters and 1.4 to 1.8 meters thick. They had arrowslits for small-caliber firearms (located on average every 5-5.5 meters) and a timber porch for defenders, later roofed.
   The fortifications were reinforced with horseshoe towers spaced every 50-77 meters. For unknown reasons, they were much more densely spaced from the south, and very rarely from the north, although it can not be ruled out that there were additional, currently unknown towers on north side. In the sixteenth century there were fourteen of them. They exceeded above the height of the defensive walls, were advanced in front of walls face, closed from the town side and served a flanking functions. The diameter of their semicircle was varied and ranged from 5 to 12 meters. In one known case the tower had a hexagonal floor plan (tower no. 1). They had 3 to 5 floors separated by flat beam ceilings, with two floors above the curtain wall. Originally, access to the towers was possible only from the defensive porch on the curtain walls, where in some cases stairs were used to level the tiers.
   The entrance to the town was possible through two gates, one on the north-west side and one on the east. Their defense was provided by four-sided, three-floor towers provided with foregates (eastern probably in the form of a barbican). The outer zone of defense was the moat surrounding the entire town.

Current state

   Six towers and around 500 meters of the defensive wall have survived to the present. In the best condition is the southern section with towers no. 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 and there are smaller relics of towers no. 5, 6, 7 and 9, however, access to part of the towers is difficult, due to modern housing.

show tower no. 8 on map

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Bóna M., Šimkovic M., Glos P., Neskorostredoveké opevnenie mesta Sabinov [w:] Městské fortifikace ve vrcholně středověkých zeměpanských městech střední Evropy, Brno 2008.