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 first written comments on the existence of a guard post in the place of the present fortress date from 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 defense purposes and as a lighthouse. The tower itself did not provide sufficient defense, and therefore during the Polish-Teutonic Knights war between 1518–21, wooden fortifications were built around the lighthouse. Subsequent defense 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 modernization of the fortifications and the establishment of new defense systems. Gdańsk relatively quickly became aware of the need to undertake these expensive works, which however were necessary for the city’s 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 fort’s 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 gunfire. 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 implemented in the 18th century.
The fortress fortifications and city defense system were merged into a unified defense 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.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.