The Barbican

The strongest element of the expanded fortifications in Krakow- the Barbican was built at the end of 15h century. The cornerstone was laid by the Polish king Jan Olbracht. who did no stint funds for the investment.

The walls of the Barbican were very solidly constructed thus a good example of very skillful engineering which is exemplified here by usage of limestone. Up to the moat surface, walls were made of limestone. Lime mortar was used to join the stones. The structure above the moat surface was made of kiln-fired bricks. The wall was artillery fire proof, its thickness ranged from 45cm to 3m. It was a solid protection for the fortress crew. The Barbican has four loop-holed storeys, grid distributed. They were especially constructed for light firearms. The loop-holes numbered up to 130. The loop-holes were spread apart adequately enough to allow for wide area of coverage with gunfire.


Building's facade is crowned with machicolation: it also includes a forwarded balcony with floor hatch that was used to pour melted lead, boiling oil or to throw projectiles. The crowning element of machicolation piece was seven observation towers-octagonal and circular, and they could only be reached with ladders.

Throughout history Barbican  entrance saw many national heroes and leaders being warmly welcomed by citizens of Kraków. It became known as the Porta Gloriae (Glorious Gate) of Kraków. Entrance of the King through its gates also traditionally symbolized takeover of authority over the capitol.

The beginning of the 19th century initiated start of the battle for Barbican 's survival. Following the imperial decree of Francis II in 1806, disposal of Kraków's medieval city walls was begun. With a careful effort of an architect, chief conservator and Senator Feliks Radwański, in 1817 Barbican  and northern part of walls was saved. That was a landmark decision in Barbican 's history. The medieval defense fortress became a monument of art and fortification. Today Barbican  falls under the jurisdiction of the Museum of History in Kraków which has made it accessible for the tourists, who can tour its interior with outline of historical development of fortifications in Kraków.

regular 7 PLN
half-price 5 PLN
group ticket for schools 4,50 PLN
family ticket 14 PLN
guide in English 100 PLN per group + tickets

Basztowa Street, 30-547 Kraków
phone: (12) 422-98-77, 619-23-20

The article is published with the consent and through the kindness The Historical Museum of the City of Kraków.

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