Wisłoujscie Fortress (Poland)
Pomeranian Voivodeship See list of castles in Polonia
The Wisłoujście Fortress is a unique monument of fortification art. Its name comes from the times when the mouth of the Vistula was located directly north of the Fortress. This place was an important area from a strategic point of view, from which it was possible to control the movement of ships leaving and entering the port of Gdańsk. The strategic importance of this site was appreciated very early on. It is possible that a watchtower was located here during the reign of Pomeranian dukes.
However, the first written records of the existence of a watchtower in the place of today's Fortress date back to the mid-fourteenth century. It was a wooden structure, no wonder that it was often damaged. The first permanent fortification structure was erected here after the liberation of Gdańsk from the Teutonic rule (1308-1454).
In 1482 a brick cylindrical tower was erected, serving for defense purposes and as a lighthouse. At night, a fire was lit on its top, showing ships the way to the port. The tower itself was not a sufficient defense, so during the Polish-Teutonic war in 1518-21, wooden fortifications were erected around the lighthouse. Over the next decades, individual defensive structures grew around this core, which made up the entire fortification of Wisłoujście.
The sixteenth century, and especially its end, is a period of rapid development of firearms, an increase in the destructive power of cannons, and thus, the modernization of fortifications and the emergence of new defense systems. In Gdańsk, it was realized relatively early that it was necessary to undertake these expensive but necessary works for the city's safety.
In the 1880s, a four-bastion Fort Carré was erected around the wreath in place of the wooden fortifications, constructed in accordance with the principles of New Italian fortifications. The bastions of the fort had casemates and cannons from which it was possible to fire along the walls. The walls of the bastions were made of brick, and the corners were reinforced with stone blocks. Firing at the foreground was carried out from guns located on the bastions. The casemates bear the dates 1586 and 1587, indicating the time of completion of individual fortifications.
Fort Carré was surrounded by an irrigated moat, through which the entrance to the interior led, located in the curtain wall between the bastions and secured by a gate and a drawbridge. The tunnel of the gate is inclined in relation to the axis of the entrance to protect the interior of the fort against possible missiles. The date 1602, appearing on the fort's entrance portal, refers to the final works carried out in the fort.
In order to protect the fort from direct attack, the so-called Hieronim Ferrero, an Italian expert, was erected in the years 1624-26. Eastern rampart. It consisted of 5 earth bastions preceded by a moat. The analogous West Lair was located on the other bank of the Vistula, opposite the Fortress. The fortifications of both ramparts were constantly expanded and supplemented in the 18th century.
In the years 1657-58 the fortifications of the Fortress and the city's defense system were combined into a unified defense system. During the Prussian period and the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1914), the fortifications of the Fortress underwent further modernization.
After World War I, the Fortress lost its military significance. In the interwar period, it served as a base for sailing clubs. In 1945 it was almost completely destroyed.
Since 1974, the Wisłoujście Fortress has been under the management of the Gdańsk Museum. Since then, rescue works as well as archaeological, historical and conservation research have been carried out. For this reason, the Fortress is only allowed to be visited on a limited basis. Nevertheless, taking into account all inconveniences, it is worth seeing a unique monument of fortification art, where all the conservation layers documenting its extraordinary history are still legible.