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Other Top Points From Gdynia (Gdansk), Poland

Gdynia Port
Archaeological Museum
Gdynia
History Museum
Malbork Castle
Maritime Museum
National Art Museum
Neptune's Fountain
Oliwa Zoo
Sopot
St. Mary's Church (Kosciol Mariacki)
Town Hall (Ratusz)
Westerplatte


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Fortress of the Vistula River Mouth

Address: Stara Twierdza 1

A unique monument of the fortification works, Wisłoujście Fortress, is located in direct proximity to the Westerplatte peninsula. This was an important area from a strategic point of view, as the movement of ships entering and leaving Gdańsk harbour could be controlled from this place. The former Gdańsk harbour was located on the Motława river, a few kilometres from the seashore, which made Wisłoujście a key place protecting Gdańsk from the sea and protecting the city and harbour from a surprise enemy attack. Its strategic importance was appreciated long ago. It is quite possible that a guard post was already located there under the reign of the Pomeranian dukes.

The first written comments on the existence of a guard post in the place of the present fortress are not however found until the mid 14th century. The first permanent fortifications were built just after Gdańsk broke free from the Teutonic Knights reign (1308-1454). In 1482 a brick cylindrical tower was erected used both for defence purposes and as a lighthouse. The tower itself did not provide sufficient defence, and therefore during the Polish-Teutonic Knights war between 1518–21, wooden fortifications were built around the lighthouse. Subsequent defence structures were added over the following decades. In 1562 the wooden fortifications surrounding the tower were replaced with a three-storey brick ring with casemates.

The 16th century and more specifically its end, was a period of rapid development in guns and their ensuing increased destructive power, which necessitated the modernisation of the fortifications and the establishment of new defence systems. Gdańsk relatively quickly became aware of the need to undertake these expensive works, which however were necessary for the citys security. In the 1580s a four-bastion Carré fort was built around the ring in place of the former wooden fortifications, designed according to the rules of the new Italian art of fortification. It was most likely designed by the Flemish fortifications expert, Antoni van Obberghen. The forts bastions had casemates and gun stations, which allowed one to fire along the walls. The foreground could be fired upon with guns located in the bastions. The casemates had 1586 and 1587 date inscriptions, indicating the time of completing the construction of individual fortification structures. Fort Carré was surrounded by a moat, through which the way to the inside lead, located in the curtain wall between the bastions.

The entry was protected by a gate and drawbridge. The gate tunnel is built diagonally in relation to the entry axis in order to protect the interior of the fort from potential gun fire. The 1602 date inscription in the entry portal of the fort refers to the date of completing the works on the fort.

The Eastern Entrenchment was erected during 1624-26 to protect the fort against direct attack and was constructed according to the guidelines of the Italian expert, Hieronim Ferrero. It consisted of 5 earth bastions preceded by a moat. The similar Western Entrenchment was located on the other bank of the Vistula river directly opposite the fortress. The fortifications of both entrenchments were constantly developed and supplemented in the 18th century.

The fortress fortifications and city defence system were merged into a unified defence system in

1657–58. The Fortress itself, the New Harbour and Westerplatte were additionally strengthened during the Napoleonic wars. Ultimately, the fortress had lost its military significance after WWI through the demilitarization of Gdańsk. Between the two world wars it was used as a marina by many yacht clubs.

The facility was destroyed during the war in 1945 and was partially rebuilt in the sixties. Further reconstruction of the facility and its planned adaptation to a yacht marina was discontinued as a result of the construction of industrial plants in the direct vicinity and their negative impact on the structure.

Since 1974 Wisłoujście Fortress has been administered by the Gdańsk History Museum.


Fortress of the Vistula River Mouth Map


Emerald Princess Baltic Cruise Guide
by Fafos & Grjava, 2009
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