Barbakan, or the Barbican, is a fortified outpost once connected to the city walls and a historic gateway leading into the Old Town of Krakow. The Barbican is one of the few remaining relics of the complex network of fortifications and defensive barriers that once encircled the royal city.
The Barbican is regarded as a masterpiece of mediaeval military engineering. It was added to the city’s fortifications along the Royal Road in the late 15th century. It currently serves as a tourist attraction and venue for a variety of exhibitions.
The Barbican was originally linked to the city walls by a covered passageway that led through St Florian’s Gate and served as a checkpoint for all who entered the city. On its eastern wall, a tablet commemorates the feat of the Kraków citizen, Marcin Oracewicz, who defended the town against the Russians in an 18th-century military conflict.
The Gothic-style barbican, built around 1498, is one of only three such fortified outposts still surviving in Europe, and the one in the best condition. It is a moated cylindrical brick structure with an inner courtyard 24.4 metres in diameter, and 7 turrets. Its 3-metre-thick walls hold 130 embrasures.