Fortifications on plan

Former fortress of Poznań


In the first half of the 19th century, the Prussian authorities transformed Poznań into a mighty fortress. According to estimates, it was the third biggest fortress in Europe, French Verdun being the largest and German Koblenz being the runner-up.

It was an innovation in terms of its architecture. The fortress was the first building of this type to feature the fortification system later known as the "new-Prussian" system, co-developed and elaborated on in theoretical terms by Leopold Brese, the designer of the fortress in Poznań. The construction of the core building, i.e. Winiary Fort (Citadel) was launched in 1828. Later, the so-called Great Sluice on the Warta River was built, and in 1836, a fort was erected near the former Church of Order of the Friars Minor in Śródka. Winiary Fort was finished in 1839, at the same time as the sluice on the Warta River, Bogdanka River and Cybina River. Fortifications on the right bank of the Warta River were built by mid-19th century.

In 1839, King Frederick William III consented to the erection of fortifications surrounding the left-bank part of the city. It was composed of 6 bastions and 2 forts connected with earth defenses. They were finished in ca. 1860.

Surrounding the city with fortifications for nearly half a century contributed to a large extent to the hampering of the city development. At the same time, as the siege artillery was perfected, the military advantages of the fortress became less obvious.

In 1872, the existing fortress was surrounded with 18 forts located within the range of a few kilometers from the city centre. They were erected in two phases. The construction of the first twelve forts (nine main forts and three intermediary forts) began in 1876 and terminated in 1883. By 1896, six other intermediary forts were erected. There were smaller bunkers for the infantry and artillery troops as well as ammunition bunkers between forts. It was a typical maneuvering fortress.

In 1902, Emperor William II consented to the demolition of the fortifications at the outskirts of the left-bank city, except for the Citadel. His decision was prompted by the fact that, at the time, this type of fortification was not very useful from the military point of view and his intention to transform Poznań into a residency city (Residenzstadt ). Today, the external ring of forts erected in the years 1876-96 has been preserved almost intact. Only small fragments of the fortifications at the Citadel (destroyed in 1945) and in Ostrów Tumski, being older parts of the military edifices, have been preserved.

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