Everyone knows that a medieval European city needed to be fortified. Cracow is no exception. The city centre was surrounded by fortress walls that ran for two miles around its perimeter; had 39 towers and 8 gates. The fortress kept out invaders with its 10-metre high walls, which were 2,5 metres thick in certain parts. The barbican, which has seven turrets, was built in the late 15th century and was connected to the the city’s walls and St. Florian’s Gate (Brama Florianska) by a drawbridge. It can be explored by tourists and is also well-known for its concerts and exhibitions. It remains among one of the best preserved barbicans in Europe.
St Florian’s gate is the only original gate to have survived to the 21st century. It dates back to the early 14th century and is 33,5 metres high. It was reserved for royalty and distinguished dignitaries as it leads directly onto the main town square. The city walls are hugged by the ‘planty’: now a green belt of vegetation, which was once a moat. Remember the trumpeter we met at Kosciol Mariacki; well, he also signalled the opening and closing of the cast iron gates each morning and evening.
Ever since I can remember, the inner wall, near the Florian Gate has been adorned with paintings, patiently eyeing out buyers.
By the beginning of the 19th century the city had long outgrown its walls.
Address: The fortress wall envelops Cracow city centre and can be found bordering the planty.