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The Middle Ages gave the people of Gotland a lot of advantages compared to other people around the Baltic Sea with its central position. The town of Visby became an attractive goal for people with other intentions than trading for hundred of years. As mentioned earlier, a lot of traders from other countries settled in the town.

  During the Middle Ages a lot of castles, walled towns and other buildings of defence were built all over Europe. In the middle of the 13th century, the citizens of Visby started to build a six meters high city wall without towers. The oldest part is a citadel, nowadays called 'Kruttornet' (gun powder-house) built around 1166.

 The war 1288 between the citiziens of Visby, supported by the Germans, and the people on the countryside, supported by knights from Estonia, gave the citizens of Visby a reason to continue the work with the wall. This time the enlargement gave them an 11 meters high city wall with towers. And between the big towers of defence the citizens of Visby even built several sadeltowers hanging upon the wall. All together the city wall became 3,4 km, and it was finished in the beginning of the 14th century.

 The wall had 29 big ground-towers, you can still see 27 of the towers today, completed with 22 sadeltowers. Of the later ones, only 9 are still intact. The towers had 3 or 4 floors where the soldiers could fight from, and on the backside of the city wall the towers were connected with scaffolds made of wood. Remarkably the strongest part of the city wall is built as defence against the farmers of Gotland, and not from attacks towards the sea.

 Several mass-graves have been found outside the city wall. The invasion of Gotland by Valdemar Atterdag ended with a battle just outside the city wall the year 1361. The place is named Korsbetningen. One of the mass-graves is saved for future excavations. You can read more about it by using "The battle" in the menu.
But do we have any castles on Gotland? The answer is no. During the Middle Ages we had an extra defence, Visborgs Slott, connected to the city wall. Visborgs Slott was blowed up by Danes the year 1679, when Gotland already had passed to Sweden.

 
visby

mass graves

 A copy of an armor made of leather and plates of iron. Different models were found in the mass graves outside the city wall, many of the armors have been reproduced by Margareta and Göran Hoas, Västerhejde.


   
 
wall
 

 

In a park behind the north part of the city wall, you can see a little model that shows how the wall probably looked like 700 years ago, and behind it what´s left today. During these centuries several of the towers have been used as storerooms. 'Dalmanstornet', one of the bigger towers, got a roof made of red fire bricks the year 1784. And recently the same tower was completed with a bridge over the moat near the city wall. Actually there were no water filled moats around the city wall. The material made of limestone was taken from the surroundings, and the natural moats gave the town a double defence. The moats around some parts of the walled city are named Nordergravar and Östergravar. (north moats and east moats)

The model of the gate is made by Henry Hallroth.



Author: Göran Smitterlau
 
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