The Toruń Fortress
In Toruń there is a military monument of the highest rank - one of the most immense systems of fortifications in Poland, built by Prussians at the end of 19th century to defend the western border of Prussia.
This system was built in Toruń due to its strategic location - the city was situated at that time on the border line of Prussia and Russia, which border ran along the Drwęca river. Thanks to Prussian fortifications Toruń was added to the list of cities-fortresses.
The erection of fortress began in 1872. Within 32 years about 200 fortifications were constructed. In total 7 main fortifications, 6 medium-size ones, 6 artillery batteries, 32 infantry shelters, 52 shelters of artillery and ammunition of hinterland were situated in Toruń. The forts surrounded the whole of the city. The very clear arrangement of the fortification has been preserved until present times.
In 1859 the introduction of cannons with rifled barrels and smokeless powder influenced the decision about the construction of the fortress. Due to those improvements, 17th-century embankment around the city did not guarantee the protection against artillery attacks.
Prussian defence was based on the plan to construct immense forts -artillery batteries in a several-kilometre distance from the city centre. Initially 5 main forts and 2 medium-size ones were to be built. With the passage of time the number of fortifications was enlarged. In the period between 1877-1884, at first forts II and XI were constructed, then forts IV, V, VII, XV, XIII, IX.
Despite great expenditures on the construction of the fortress, even before it was finished, the amendments had been introduced due to new, even more effective type of ammunition introduced. For that reason the importance of the main artillery forts was lessened in favour of the infantry forts, and in favour of the erection of smaller but more numerous forts of hinterland, which were supposed to close the space between forts. In the years 1888-1893 another forts were added- forts III,VI, VIII, X, XII, and XIV. The last to be constructed was fort I and it was the most technically advanced one. At the same time numerous shelters were built, with armour batteries between them. Przyczółek Mostowy (the Brigde-Head) was rebuilt on the right river bank.
Toruń fortress was modernised throughout the 90’s of the 19th century, for the last time in 1914, when the majority of forts were equipped with wing artillery batteries, armour artillery batteries between forts XI, XII, XII and XII, XIII, XIV, and experimental cannons in fort XI. Additionally new observation points for infantry and artillery were assigned. The exits from those constructions were of labyrinthine structure, which protected the interiors from the blast waves of explosions.
Schema of Toruń fortress location:
Description of forts:
Forts built in the years 1877-1884
Forts built in the years 1886-1893
- Fort I (of Sobieski) - can be reached by Winnica Street, in the vicinity there is a yellow tourist route. The most modern fort in Toruń and at the same time the oldest armour fort of II Reich. It was built in the years 1888-1892 as the last fort in Toruń. Equipped with the heaviest fortress artillery- 4 howitzers 210mm in calibre located in the armoured towers. It also had two armour observation points and two observation towers for infantry.
- Fort II (of Czarnecki) - is situated in a square between the streets Szosa Lubicka, Cyprysowa, Mocarskiego and Rydygiera. It was constructed as a model main artillery fort. As a part of modernisation it was equipped with a modern observation point for artillery. Wz.87 (PBSt. 87)
- Fort III (of Jabłonowski - "Long Battery")- in Maria-Curie Skłodowska street. It is an artillery shelter for 18 cannons, surrounded by an embankment and a moat.
- Fort IV (of Żółkiewski) - built between Chrobrego and Kociewska streets. It is the only fort adapted to tourist visits. There is a youth hostel for 100 people and a restaurant. The main artillery fort, rebuilt for the infantry. As a part of modernisation it was equipped with a modern observation point for artillery Wz.87 (PBSt. 87)
- Fort V (of Chodkiewicz) - in Polna street. The main artillery fort, rebuilt for the infantry. As a part of modernisation it was equipped with a modern observation point for artillery Wz.87 (PBSt. 87). Shortly before the WWI the roof of the fort was strengthened with corrugated sheet.
- Fort VI (of Wiśniowiecki) - in the area of a military unit in Szosa Chełmiska, in the vicinity of Wrzosy (Moors) district. Designed as a typical, trapezium-shaped infantry fort.
- Fort VII (of Kościuszko) - at the junction of Polna street and Szosa Okrężna. The main artillery fort, rebuilt for the infantry. In the vicinity there is a green tourist route.
- Fort VIII (of Kazimierz Wielki) - a forest path leads to this fortification from Bielańska street. Designed as a typical, trapezium-shaped infantry fort. It had wing batteries, as well as three observation towers for infantry.
- Fort IX (of Boleslav Chrobry) - located in Szosa Okrężna in front of the motor-racing stadium. A middle-size fort, rebuilt for infantry, but unfinished due to the introduction of demolition ammunition.
- Fort X (Riverside Battery) - between Przy Grobli street, Zagrodowa street and the gardens. It is an open artillery battery with six 120mm cannons which controlled the Vistula river. The only fort without even a single observation tower for infantry.
- Fort XI (of Batory) - at present it stores Polmozbyt goods in Poznańska street. Built as a model artillery fort.
- Fort XII (of Bem/Jagiełło) - in the area of military training field, at the extension of Drzymala street. Designed as a typical, trapezium-shaped fort for infantry.
- Fort XIII (of Kniaziewicz) - at the end of Kniaziewicza street. The main artillery fort unfinished due to the introduction of demolition ammunition. A military structure.
- Fort XIV (of Dwernicki) - built in Łódzka street, at the height of the passage to Włocławska street. A miedium-size fort for infantry. Designed as an irregular trapezium, the front and the left wall of the fort protected by the moat. A military building.
- Fort XV (of Dąbrowski) - at the mouth of Lipnowska and Rypinska streets. The main artillery fort, rebuilt for the infantry. As a part of modernisation it was equipped with a modern observation point for artillery Wz.87 (PBSt. 87).
See the sites:
Bibliography concerning The Toruń fortress:
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