Warsaw Barbican

The Warsaw Barbican is one of the surviving structures that are part of a complex of historical fortifications that once surround Warsaw. It was founded in 1540 and is a semicircular outpost. Previously, the powerful structure had four towers designed by the Italian Giovanni Battista, and a drawbridge, which, unfortunately, has not survived to this day.

After the completion of construction, the four-towered barbican almost immediately began to act as a historical landmark, which did not perform any defensive function. During the Warsaw Uprising, it was badly damaged, but after the end of World War II it was successfully restored. In the restoration work, bricks were used, which remained from the Gothic buildings destroyed in Wroclaw and Nys.

At the base of one of the towers there is a monument to the famous Warsaw Siren, who, according to legend, emerged from the Vistula and told fishermen that a great city would soon be built on the coast. Now in the barbican there is a museum, which hosts a variety of exhibitions dedicated to the culture and history of the city. Street artists, merchants, artists and musicians also often gather here.

History

The Warsaw Barbican was built in 1540 by the Venetian Renaissance architect Giovanni Battista, who lived and worked in Poland in the XVI century. This three-storey semicircular bastion was erected on the site of the old city gates, designed to protect the street of Novomeysk. The structure had special positions to accommodate shooters and a drawbridge.

Its dimensions were: 14 meters wide, 15 meters high from the bottom of the moat surrounding the city walls, 30 meters long forward from the outer walls. The width of the walls of the barbican was about 3 meters.

The irony of the fate of this fortification is that almost immediately after construction, the barbican became an anachronism due to the rapid increase in artillery power. Its defensive properties were insufficient to adequately resist technically equipped troops.

According to its original purpose, the Warsaw barbican was used only once: during the Swedish invasion of Poland, when on June 30, 1656, there was a battle for fortification between the invaders and the army of the Polish king Jan II Casimir.

In the XVII century, the walls of the barbican were partially dismantled due to the fact that its defensive importance was minimal, and the city needed a large gate to control the movement of ordinary citizens and visiting merchants with goods. In the XIX century, it became part of the usual residential quarter of Warsaw.

Barbican in the XX century

In 1937, an attempt was made to reconstruct the structure and return it to its original appearance. Under the direction of architect Jan Zahvatrowicz, part of the city walls and even the western side of the bridge were restored, which required the demolition of one of the newly built buildings. However, the lack of funding, and then the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany in 1939, negated all plans to restore this historic structure.

During the Second World War, namely during the defense of Warsaw in 1939 and the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, the barbican, like most of the buildings of the Old Town, was almost completely destroyed.

A few years after the end of the war, the authorities of Warsaw decided to rebuild the walls around the former Old Town, and with them to restore the barbican in order to use it as a tourist attraction in the future. In 1952-1954, the fortification was recreated on the basis of drawings of the XVII century (with the exception of 2 external gates and a tower on the side of the Old Town). An interesting fact is that for the reconstruction of the barbican, bricks of the demolished historical buildings of the cities of Nysa and Wroclaw were used.

How to get there

by public transport:
stop “Plac Krasinskich”
buses No 116, 178, 180, 503, 518, N44.

By car:
GPS coordinates: 52.250634, 21.010177