Discovering Krakow’s Old Town usually starts at Florian Gate – the most important historical entrance to the city. Right next to it is the Barbican, which is not only one of the most characteristic objects of military architecture in Krakow, but also one of the few that have survived to this day in Poland.
The Barbican was erected at the end of the 15th century as an element of the fortifications strengthening the defense of Krakow from the north. The main entrance to the Barbican was from the side of Kleparz. This Gothic structure, crowned with seven watchtowers 24 meters in diameter and walls up to 3 meters thick, was one of the most perfect defensive structures in its time The Barbican was connected to the Florian Gate by a fortified passage – the so-called “neck”. The walls of the neck also had their own defensive elements, including battlements with arrowslits.
The barbican with the city walls was surrounded by a moat 24 meters wide and 3.5 meters deep. So it was a fortress practically impregnable.
The Barbican was erected at the end of the 15th century and survived in good condition until the beginning of the 19th century, when it was faced with the threat of demolition, along with the nearby Florian Gate, as a result of a decision by the Austrian Emperor Francis II (resulting from the generally poor condition of the city walls). Thanks to the intercession of two senators, Feliks Radwański and Florian Straszewski, the Barbican was saved, along with a short section of the city walls. The decision to leave it in place was explained by the threat of winds blowing from the north, which, if they weren’t blocked somehow, would have caused a nuisance to the local residents walking around the Main Square.
Thanks to this, we can admire these interesting military building to this day
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