Medieval Fortifications

Medieval Fortifications of Cracow. Until the 19th century, Cracow had massive medieval city walls. The inner wall was some 2.4 meters wide and 6–7 meters high. Ten meters outside the inner wall was an outer, lower one. The walls were punctuated by defensive towers 10 meters high. In the 19th century — just before they were demolished by the Austrian authorities — there were 47 towers still standing. Now there are only three Gothic towers left in all Cracow: the Carpenters', Haberdashers' and Joiners' Towers, connected to St. Florian's Gate by walls several dozen meters long. The barbican, once connected to the city walls, is another of the few remaining relics of the complex network of fortifications of Cracow.


St Florian's Gate

St Florian's Gate is one of the best-known Gothic towers in Poland, and a focal point of Cracow's Old Town. Built about 1300, this rectangular tower is 33,5 m tall. It is the only city gate, of the original eight built in the Middle Ages, that was not dismantled during the 19th-century "modernization" of Cracow. The big 16th-century bas-relief of St. Florian adorns the south wall and the stone eagle on the other side of the tower was designed by a famous 19th-century painter Jan Matejko.
At St Florian's Gate Cracow's Royal Road begins. Here entered kings and princes, foreign envoys and guests of distinction, coronation processions and other parades, to move up the Florianska Street to the central Market Square, and further down the Grodzka Street to the Wawel Royal Castle.

The adjoining city walls and two additional, smaller towers have also been preserved and today host street displays of amateur art available for purchase.


The Gothic-style barbican, built around 1498, is one of only three such fortified outposts still surviving in Europe, and the best preserved. It is a moated cylindrical brick structure with an inner courtyard 24.4 meters in diameter, and seven turrets. Its 3-meter-thick walls hold 130 embrasures. The barbican was originally linked to the city walls by a covered passageway that led through St. Florian's Gate and served as a checkpoint for all who entered the city. On its eastern wall, a tablet commemorates the feat of the Kraków burgher Marcin Oracewicz, who, during the Bar Confederation, defended the town against the Russians and shot their Colonel Panin.