Fortifications of Gdańsk
Former Gdańsk was a defensive city, girdled with a triple line of brick fortifications, ground and water. This made it possible to repel the attacks of Stefan Batory's troops and repeated assaults of the well-organized Swedish army. The Russians chasing after King Stanisław Leszczyński broke into the city after a long siege only because, that due to lack of funds, the fortifications had not been repaired for over half a century, and the defenders were short of missiles and guns.
Early medieval Gdańsk was protected by an earth rampart, reinforced with a wooden palisade. When in 1308 r. The Teutonic Knights captured the city and erected on the site of today's ul. Grodzka and Rycerska - a gloomy castle, construction of permanent fortifications began. Behind the first wall another appeared, reinforced with towers, later a moat and defensive and representative buildings woven into the stone ring. Actually, these walls have never been conquered, because the invaders were stopped by external fortifications, they have succumbed to fashion. At the end of the 19th century. the manifestations of the "medieval, primitive militancy ", allocating the leveled areas of fortifications for landscapes and wide communication routes, without which, I honestly have to admit, the city center was "suffocating".
Remnants of splendor
However, so many fragments of the old fortifications have survived, that a trained eye can easily see their continuity in the buildings of the old town. Gdańsk walls, reaching here and there to 10 m in height, they have retained a wide battlement, and in many places also guard porches.
It leads north from the Golden Gate, along Wełarska streets, Latarniana and Podmurze, a long section of fortifications cut by the modern structure of the Wybrzeże Theater. Strengthening the walls is squat, octagonal Straw Tower with walls thick 3 m, because it used to be where gunpowder was stored. The Armory is stuck to it, which despite its elaborate facade, suggestive, that it was rather a representative building, was one of the most important points of defense. Behind the theater there is a four-sided wall in the wall, the oldest of the towers – called Lantern, further on, the slightly frayed wall ends in front of the Jacek Tower, darkened with age, counting up to 36 m in height. Fortifications next to Jacek, before they were dismantled for the construction of the hall, turned towards the Motława River, ending at the Swan Tower. Wandering along ul. Podwale Staromiejskie, you can still see significant fragments of these walls.
From the east, the Main Town was protected by Motława and the compact front of tenement houses reinforced with defensive gates. South wall, partially preserved at ul. Behind Walls and Ogarna, it led from the Gate of Anchors to the City Court.
Between ul. Bogusławski and Ogarna were built in the 14th century. three quadrilateral towers: Brewery, Schulz and Narożna Street, joined at the beginning of the 17th century. by Jan Strakowski with outbuildings and the mint. After the war, the ruined building was carefully renovated and handed over to scouts.
City Court, resembling a small castle, viewed from the side of Podwale Przedmiejski, it gives an idea of the enormity of the former fortifications. A massive team bristling with towers seems to be saying "just don't climb the walls", which is often ignored by scouts and young tourists. From the side of Ogarna, the manor is much less impressive, maybe that's why, that the plastered north walls of the two towers look too fresh, to believe in their medieval lineage.
The complex also includes a bulky coach house at ul. Podgarba-ry, turned into warehouses today, and the circle of fortifications is closed by the nearby Golden Gate.
Sows and gilts
Speaking of the fortification system, it is impossible to omit such an important part, which were underground passages. The first sows were connected in the mid-fourteenth century. Teutonic castle with St. Mary's Church and the Długouliczna Gate. After the First Toruń Peace, when the Teutonic Knights found out, that they could not count on the loyalty of their subjects, underground works were intensified, creating a network of secret passages under the city.
In the times of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, merchants also dug underground corridors, thus connecting their tenement houses with a network of corridors. Some of the then cellars had several levels.
During the reign of Prussia, a huge labyrinth was created near Biskupia Górka, even equal to the famous Silesian dungeons.
It is carefully estimated, that it stretches under the old town 50 km of various tunnels. Nobody knows, in what condition they are, where they lead and what is hidden in them. Just in case, in order not to tempt adventurers and treasure hunters, almost all entrances to the dungeons have been bricked up, flooded with asphalt or blocked with thick bars. "Almost all" means, that a few remained…