The Fortress of Przemyśl

THE RING FORTRESS OF PRZEMYSL was, at the beginning of the 20th century, one of Europe’s largest fortresses. During World War I it became an arena of ferce combat. The soldiers who fought here included Austrians, Hungarians, Russians, Germans, Czechs, Poles and Italians. At that time, the place was compared to the Verdun fortress and Przemysl was often referred to as the Verdun of the eastern front. Now the fortress stands out as a monument of the 1914- 1915 Battle of Nations, picturesquely located on the gorgeously wooded hills of the Carpathian Uplands. The forts, purposefully destroyed while the fortress was being surrendered on 22 March 1915, have survived as eye-catching ruins that prompt their visitors to engage in meditation.

The Ring Fortress of Przemysl is a heritage site, not only for the inhabitants of the city, but also for all the European nations. The structures of the fortress reveal the whole spectrum of the Austrian defensive military art: starting with the trenches of the 1854-55 fortifed camp through the artillery-equipped forts dating from the 1870’s and 80’s and the armoured forts built at the end of the 19th century, down to the feld fortifcations from 1914 and 1915. Particularly worth mentioning is the fact that most of the forts, which have not yet been absorbed into the cityscape, still exist within the original terrain features of the then battlefeld. One can still discern the traces of masker tree screens, strategic highways, viewing connections between forts and numerous trenches flling the spaces between them. Now the ruins of the forts appear to be perceived in the way similar to the 19th century Romantic fascination with medieval castles. The forts, sitting useless and often embedded in thick woods, quiet, imposing and mysterious, have become sources of numerous tales and legends. As you visit the dark interiors, you may chance to see, in your mind’s eye, the vague silhouettes of the soldiers fghting here almost a century ago and as you walk, your echoing footsteps make you feel that there is someone approaching to face you.
The Ring Fortress of Przemysl can be visited on foot, by bicycle or on horseback (in wintertime, you can use your cross-country skis). Since the present day condition varies from fort to fort and they may be more or less overgrown with bushes, the enclosed table illustrates the degrees of attractiveness of particular forts of the Outer Ring . What remains is the hope that in the years to come, the relevant institutions and organisations will intensify their eforts to enhance the tourist value of the forts.

Tomasz Idzikowski
HISTORICAL MONUMENT – The Old Town Complex of Przemyśl
On 10 December 2018, under the Regulation of the President of the Republic of Poland, the Old Town Complex in Przemyśl was granted the status of Historical Monument.
1.Number. 2. Name of fort. 3. Type of fort. 4. Date of construction, 5. Degree of attractiveness

1 2 3 4 5
I Salis Soglio A 1881 - 1883 ***
IIb Cyków PI 1900 - 1903 *
II Jaksmanice A-OP 1881 - 1897 *
IIa Mogiłki A 1892 - 1900 *
III Łuczyce A 1881 - 1887 **
IIIa Hermanowice PI 1881 - 1887
IV Optyń PA 1897 - 1900 **
V Grochowce A 1881 - 1887 **
Va Biadoliny PI 1900 - 1903 *
VI Helicha A 1878 *
VIb Lipnik PI 1908 - 1910 *
VII Prałkowce A 1881 - 1887 **
VII 1/2 Tarnawce PA 1892 - 1900 *
VIII Łętownia A 1880 - 1887 ***
VIIIa Aszczycówka PI 1900 - 1903 *
IX Bruner PA 1892 - 1894 *
IX Przy Krzyżu PA 1893 *
Xb Zagrodnia PI 1890 *
X Orzechowce A-OP 1884 - 1886 **
Xa Pruchnicka Droga PA 1892 - 1897 **
XIa Cegielnia PA 1894 *
XI Duńkowiczki A-OP 1884 - 1886 ***
XII Werner A 1881 - 1887 ***
XIIb Bolestraszyce PI 1881 - 1887 *
XIII San Rideau PA 1892 - 1894 ***
XIIIa Zabłocie PI 1900 - 1903 *
XIV Hurko A 1882 - 1884 - -
XV Borek PA 1892 - 1900 ***

PA -Armored Fort A - Artillery Fort, PI - Infantry Fort , OP - Early forts with attached armored batterys. 
Dates on the basis of the article by Adam Sapeta and Professor Janusz Bogdanowski.


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