A FORMIDABLE POMERANIAN FORTRESS
Stargard’s defences rank among the best in Poland, and allow us to trace the development of the town’s fortifications, as well as being a visible reminder of the town’s proud independence through “the best-armed and warlike townsfolk in Pomerania”. For centuries, Stargard lay less than 30 km from the uneasy border with the March of Brandenburg, and its mighty fortifications withstood numerous raids from across the frontier. They also held firm against armed attacks from rival towns (in particular Szczecin) and, by their own jurisdiction, defined the town’s territorial area.
A ducal document dating from 1295 authorised the demolition of the Castellan castle and the surrounding of the town by a ring of walls. The development of the walls continued uninterruptedly until the 18th century, when Stargard, now lying in deepest Prussia, lost its military significance and the inhabitants began creating parks and gardens in the fortifications, planting three kilometer-long stretches of greenery in the ramparts and ditches.
The fortifications themselves were made up of: walls with a total length of 2260m, 9 complete towers, 45 watch points, 4 gates (The Rampart Gate with barbican), and 4 bastions (there were also 4 gates and an armoury, which is still preserved today. The fortifications were surrounded by a moat, in front of which towered earthen ramparts surrounded by an external ditch.
THE CITY WALLS – constructed in three phases between the 13th and 16th centuries, they were originally built using boulders crowned with bricks, but later made entirely of brick. A timber porch ran along the defensive side, which in places was of a brick construction with embrasures. The structure was 8 m tall and 1.5 m thick, of which 1040 m still remain, principally on the northern and western sides.
THE TOWN GATES – all of the three remaining gates – the Pyrzyce, Mill and Rampart – are among the most attractive in Pomerania. Additionally, the Mill Gate, which spans the river, is the only one of its kind in Europe.
THE TOWERS – four remain to this day. The Red Sea Tower, The Weaver’s Tower and the Whitetop Tower rank as some of the most magnificent in the whole of Poland. Late Gothic in their present day form, they are excellent examples of observational towers and also the main points of resistance in an era of firearms development.
THE RAMPARTS AND FORTIFICATIONS – reinforced the walled defensive buildings. The oldest rampart – in front of the western wall, was constructed in the 15th century. In the 16th century it was extended considerably and, furnished with artillery bastions, heightened. During the Thirty Years’ War, the fortifications were strengthened further, and from the second half of the 17th century to the times of Frederick II of Prussia, there were plans (in part completed) to create a fortress on the site.
BASTIONS – three remain, and are unique in Pomerania. They were the last brick additions to the fortifications, added in the 16th century, a result of the increasing effectiveness of firearms. Looking out over the defensive line, the semicircular buildings with artillery embrasures were an effective way to cause maximum casualties on attackers.