A barbican (from Old French : barbacane) is a fortified outpost or fortified gateway, such as at an outer defense perimeter of a city or castle, or any tower situated over a gate or bridge which was used for defensive purposes.
In the Middle Ages, barbicans were typically situated outside the main line of defenses, and were connected to the city walls with a walled road called the neck.In the 15th century, with the improvement in siege tactics and artillery, barbicans lost their significance. However, several barbicans were built well into the 16th century.
Fortified or mock-fortified gatehouses remained a feature of ambitious French and English residences well into the 17th century.
Portuguese medieval fortification nomenclatureuses barbican to describe any wall outside of and lower than the main defensive wall that forms a second barrier. The barrier may be complete, extensive or only protect particularly weak areas. They use the more restrictive term gate barbican for structures protecting gates.
The origin of the English word barbican is thought to be found in either Persian or Arabic (see here or here).
Paul Deschamps(1888–1974) interpreted the Arabic word 'bashura[h]' as used in 13th-century chronicles to mean barbican, a defensive structure placed ahead of a gate, but this has been debunked, 'bashura' denoting rather an entire section of the outer fortifications, which may include a barbican, but also a bastion, gate, tower, or all of those together.
Fortifications in East Asia also feature similar high structures. In particular, gates in Chinese city walls were often defended by an additional "archery tower" in front of the main gatehouse, with the two towers connected by walls extending out from the main fortification. Literally called "jar walls", they are often referred to as "barbicans" in English.
A castle is a type of fortified structure built during the Middle Ages predominantly by the nobility or royalty and by military orders. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble. This is distinct from a palace, which is not fortified; from a fortress, which was not always a residence for royalty or nobility; from a ‘pleasance’ which was a walled-in residence for nobility, but not adequately fortified; and from a fortified settlement, which was a public defence – though there are many similarities among these types of construction. Use of the term has varied over time and has been applied to structures as diverse as hill forts and country houses. Over the approximately 900 years that castles were built, they took on a great many forms with many different features, although some, such as curtain walls, arrowslits, and portcullises, were commonplace.
A defensive wall is a fortification usually used to protect a city, town or other settlement from potential aggressors. The walls can range from simple palisades or earthworks to extensive military fortifications with towers, bastions and gates for access to the city. From ancient to modern times, they were used to enclose settlements. Generally, these are referred to as city walls or town walls, although there were also walls, such as the Great Wall of China, Walls of Benin, Hadrian's Wall, Anastasian Wall, and the Atlantic Wall, which extended far beyond the borders of a city and were used to enclose regions or mark territorial boundaries. In mountainous terrain, defensive walls such as letzis were used in combination with castles to seal valleys from potential attack. Beyond their defensive utility, many walls also had important symbolic functions – representing the status and independence of the communities they embraced.
A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defence of territories in warfare, and is also used to establish rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from Latin fortis ("strong") and facere.
The Castle, Newcastle, or Newcastle Castle is a medieval fortification in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, built on the site of the fortress that gave the City of Newcastle its name. The most prominent remaining structures on the site are the Castle Keep, the castle's main fortified stone tower, and the Black Gate, its fortified gatehouse.
The Kraków Barbican is a barbican – a fortified outpost once connected to the city walls. It is a historic gateway leading into the Old Town of Kraków, Poland. The barbican is one of the few remaining relics of the complex network of fortifications and defensive barriers that once encircled the royal city of Kraków in the south of Poland. It currently serves as a tourist attraction and venue for a variety of exhibitions.
York has, since Roman times, been defended by walls of one form or another. To this day, substantial portions of the walls remain, and York has more miles of intact wall than any other city in England. They are known variously as York City Walls, the Bar Walls and the Roman walls. The walls are generally 13 feet (4m) high and 6 feet (1.8m) wide.
A gatehouse is a type of fortified gateway, an entry control point building, enclosing or accompanying a gateway for a town, religious house, castle, manor house, or other fortification building of importance. Gatehouses are typically the most heavily armed section of a fortification, to compensate for being structurally the weakest and the most probable attack point by an enemy. There are numerous surviving examples in France, Austria, Germany, England and Japan.
Chinese city walls refer to defensive systems used to protect towns and cities in China in pre-modern times. In addition to walls, city defenses often included towers and gates.
The Warsaw Barbican is a barbican in Warsaw, Poland, and one of few remaining relics of the complex network of historic fortifications that once encircled Warsaw. Located between the Old and New Towns, it is a major tourist attraction.
St. Florian's Gate or Florian Gate in Kraków, Poland, is one of the best-known Polish Gothic towers, and a focal point of Kraków's Old Town. It was built about the 14th century as a rectangular Gothic tower of "wild stone", part of the city fortifications against Turkish attack.
Planty is one of the largest city parks in Kraków, Poland. It encircles the Stare Miasto , where the Medieval city walls used to stand until the early 19th century. The historic Old Town is not to be confused with the Administrative District No. 1 Stare Miasto extending further east.
The Royal Road or Royal Route in Kraków, Poland, begins at the northern end of the medieval Old Town and continues south through the centre of town towards Wawel Hill, where the old royal residence, Wawel Castle, is located. The Royal Road passes some of the most prominent historic landmarks of Poland's royal capital, providing a suitable background to coronation processions and parades, kings' and princes' receptions, foreign envoys and guests of distinction traveling from a far country to their destination at Wawel.
The Walled City of Jajce is a medieval fortified nucleus of Jajce in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with citadel high above town on top of pyramidal-shaped steep hill, enclosed with approximately 1,300 metres (4,300 ft) long defensive walls,. It is one of the best preserved fortified capitals of the Bosnian Kingdom, the last stronghold before the kingdom dissolved under the pressure of military advancement at the onset of Ottoman Empire takeover.
A gate tower is a tower built over or next to a major gateway.
A bridge castle is a type of castle that was built to provide military observation and security for a river crossing. In the narrower sense it refers to castles that are built directly on or next to a bridge. Sometimes, however, castles close to a bridge are referred to as bridge castles.
Walled towns in Austria started to appear in the 11th century. Their establishment was closely connected with the development of Austria as a march of the Holy Roman Empire and in particular by the Stauffenberg Emperors and their Marcher Lords, the Babenbergs. In present-day Austria, there are 106 towns or cities that were walled. The walls of Radstadt, Freiburg, Hainburg and Drosendorf survive almost intact, and Austria has some of the most impressive walled towns in Europe.
A Zwinger is an open kill zone area between two defensive walls that is used for defensive purposes. Zwingers were built in the post-classical and early modern periods to improve the defence of castles and town walls. The term is German and usually left untranslated. However, it is sometimes rendered as "outer courtyard" presumably referring to the subsequent role of a Zwinger as a castle's defences became redundant and it was converted into a palace or schloss, however, this belies its original purpose as a form of killing ground for the defence. The word is linked with zwingen, "to force", perhaps because the Zwinger forced an enemy to negotiate it before assaulting the main defensive line. Essenwein states that the "main purpose of this feature was so that the besieging force could not reach the actual castle wall very easily with battering rams or belfries, but had to stop at the lower, outer wall; also that two ranks of archers, behind and above one another, could fire upon the approaching enemy"
A fortified gateway is an element of a variety of fortified structures, such as a castle or walled town. Fortified gates or gateways appear in the Bronze Age and reach into the modern times.
Hohenfreyberg Castle, together with Eisenberg Castle directly opposite, forms a castle group in the southern Allgäu that is visible from a long way off. It is located about four kilometres north of Pfronten in the county of Ostallgäu. The late mediaeval hilltop castle was abandoned during the Thirty Years’ War and set on fire. From 1995 to 2006 the former aristocratic seat was comprehensively made safe and conserved as part of a closely observed "example of renovation".
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