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Trnava’s town walls

Each medieval town built walls after it received privileges as a free royal town as it was a duty as well as a right. The town of Trnava in western Slovakia was no exception and because it was one of the most important economic centres of the region since the early Middle Ages it had much to defend.

Each medieval town built walls after it received privileges as a free royal town as it was a duty as well as a right. The town of Trnava in western Slovakia was no exception and because it was one of the most important economic centres of the region since the early Middle Ages it had much to defend.

Trnava’s bulwark was different from many other towns as it was built from brick rather than stone. Trnava had a defence as early as the Mongol invasion in 1241 when the town was defended by palisades and a moat and later the more extensive medieval walls were built. The walls defending Trnava had four main gates – Stupucherská, Lautenberská, Malženická and Lovčická. These gates were part of two important trade routes crossing Trnava, one to Bratislava and the other to Czech lands. In addition to the four main gates, pedestrians could use smaller gates and the walls had one sally port and several bastions.

It is interesting that the street network within the town was precisely fixed and strikingly resembled the Roman castrum system, in which building and plots of land were reserved for defensive military positions. The construction of this urban complex created very good defensive conditions for the town for several centuries.

The walls of medieval towns lost most of their functionality in more recent times and many were torn down. But quite a large part of the Trnava fortification has been preserved and one can picture how it looked in its original splendour.

This postcard from the 1920s is a replica of a painting of one of the wall’s bastions by Viktor Kabáth.

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