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:
Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.
The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.
In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.
Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.
About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.
Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.
A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.