Modlin Fortress - the largest fortification complex in Europe


Not more than 34 km north of Warsaw, on the territory of Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki, in the fork of the Vistula River, the Narew River and Wkra River, is located Modlin Fortress, one of the largest fortresses in Poland and all of Europe. The fortress is a monument of defensive architecture of international significance. In Europe, only Verdun can compete with it. 

Defence barracks

Residential buildings

History of Modlin Fortress

The first fortifications around Modlin were built during the Swedish invasion in the 17th century, but the beginnings of the most impressing fortress in Europe falls in the first half of 19th century when Napoleon Bonaparte recognised the strategic importance of the area. In 1807 Emperor of the French ordered the construction of new fortifications. His military architects began to expand the fortress to both sides of the River Narew at the estuary into the Vistula to secure his leadership in Eastern Europe. 

Officer's Cassino



In 1813, after French crushing defeat during the war with Russian Empire, Modlin became the Kingdom of Poland’s property. It was a base for the insurgent forces during November Uprising in 1830. However, one year later the Russian troops took it over. Then the name was changed into Novogeorgievsk. During the 19th century, the Russian Empire army considerably expanded the fortress again employing Polish construction workers. The heart of the major fortress was the citadel. In the middle of the 19th century one of the longest barracks in the World, measuring 2,25 km, was built within the citadel for a garrison of 20 to 30,000 men. The Later fortress was surrounded by two rings of forts. 

Defence barracks

 Caucasus barracks and Tatar Tower (Red Tower)

Modlin was reoccupied by Polish troops in November 1918 and became a prominent military garrison in Poland. In the following years, five reinforced concrete bunkers, two additional bridges across the Vistula and Narev and numerous tank barriers and field fortifications were built in the forefield of the fortress. The stronghold also served as the supply depot for the troops and a training area. It also housed military colleges.

The Prince Józef Poniatowski Gate
 Caucasus barracks and Tatar Tower (Red Tower)

At the time of World War II, the German forces took over the fortress after the heavy bombardment and 18 days of strong battle, on September 22nd, 1939. The Nazis have used the fortress as a concentration camp in which about 20,000 people were murdered. 
After the War, the Modlin Fortress were used by Polish and Soviet Armies. 

Deffence barracks

Water Tower

Water Tower - architectonic detail

Present day

After the collapse of Communism in Poland, many defensive buildings have been abandoned. In 2013 the Modlin Fortress was sold to private investors, but some of the fortresses are open to tourists. Some parts aren't accessible or available at certain times and for a fee. Most of the buildings are equipped with Polish-English information boards. There are also numerous maps and a Centre of Tourist Information which is located close to the former Officer's Casino (click to see the map of Modlin Fortress). 

The Prince Józef Poniatowski Gate

The Prince Józef Poniatowski Gate

The fortification complex is unique on a global scale.It combines two-hundred-years-old segments of French fortifications, innovative solutions introduced by the Russians and concrete forts and shelters from 1939. Almost completely preserved elements of the fortress and constructions such as walls, citadel, ditches, sheds and outer defences make the citadel an open-air museum of a special kind. The most treasured buildings of the fortress include several well-preserved gates with the rich architectural decor, such as Napoleon's Gate, Ostrołęka Gate and Zakroczym Gate. Some structures were used as a film set in Polish movies. 

Connection of Vistula and Narew river

Grain elevators

You can visit the Tatar Tower (Wieża Tatarska), which offers a beautiful view of the surrounding area. The name of the tower comes from the Partition of Poland period when Russian Muslim soldiers lived there. The command of the garrison was afraid of religious and ethnic strife among soldiers of different nationalities and chose this very tower as a residence facility for Islam followers coming mainly from Caucasus.

Caucasian Barracks

Tatar Tower (Red Tower)

The building is 45 meters high above the surface of the water and served two basic functions: communication and a viewpoint. The Tatar Tower provides a wonderful view, including of the linking of the Vistula with the Narew, defensive barracks (which is the longest building in Europe), the neo-Gothic Water Tower of 1847, the North Gate, which is one of the oldest premises in the fortress and is from the era of the Duchy of Warsaw (1807-1815) and Napoleon's Redoubt, probably designed by the emperor himself. 

Old Granary


From the tower, there is also a beautiful view of the ruins of a neo-Renaissance Granary. The Granary was built in 1844 and was the most beautiful building of the Kingdom of Poland. The Granary, in addition to storing grain, could serve a defensive function The facility was bombed by the Nazis in September 1939. Today, despite its damage, it still makes an unforgettable impression. It is often used as a film location. It “played” the role of Horeszko Castle in the film adaptation of “Sir Thaddeus” (Polish poem-novel "Pan Tadeusz" -  by Adam Mickiewicz) by Andrzej Wajda.

Defence Barracks and White Tower

River Vistula 

Modlin Fortress is one of the largest and most interesting tourist destinations in Mazovia Region in Poland, although not yet known like Warsaw and Żelazowa Wola (F. Chopin's place of birth). It is situated about 30 km north-west of Warsaw close to the Warsaw-Modlin International Airport. You can get there by train, by bus or by car (direction Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki or Warsaw-Modlin Airport). 

Countermine corridor

Bastion of the Prince Warszawski Fortification

If you are travelling by car, you can go also about 60 km north of the Modlin to see the castle of the Dukes of Mazovia in Ciechanów (click to read more) and to visit the Museum of Romanticism in Opinogóra (click to read more).

You might also like other articles about most beautiful Polish castles, palaces and fortresses (click to read)
 Click to see most beautiful castles nad palaces in Poland


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This post is linked at: 
    The Weekly Postcard City Ttipping

Comments

  1. Great serie.
    All those photos are magnificent. It is a shame to see the ruinous state of some great buildings.

    regards

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  2. Przpiękne widoki i kadry. Ciekawy wpis. :)

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  3. I really enjoy your posts. The pictures are superb, your information is fascinating. This one is especially fine.

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  4. Bardzo ciekawe - i kolejne piękne zdjęcia

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  5. I love how much history you provided!! Your pictures are gorgeous as well! My husband and I love exploring old fortress sites and this looks far larger than any place we have ever explored. Will have to add it to the bucket list!! Glad you joined in the link up :) Happy Thursday!

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  6. Another series of amazing shots. Nicely done as usual :-)

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  7. Great photos of a truly magnificent place. I love that of the open doors.

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  8. What a historical place. Really worth visiting.

    Worth a Thousand Words

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  9. What a fascinating post! Thank you.

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  10. The decorative ceilings inside fascinate me, it's good it's all been so well kept.

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  11. Amazing. Thank you for the tour!

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  12. Beautiful and historic! Thanks for the tour. I like that old granary building!

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  13. The level of detail in the architecture is amazing. So beautiful!

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  14. Wow it does look like a massive fort complex. The architectural detail is unbelievable and your photos have done a great job capturing its essence.

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  15. This is a pretty amazing location. I can't even imagine a barracks that is 2.25km long. I hope the new owners turn it into something spectacular. It's the size of a town!

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  16. That is amazing. Some of the details remind me of early 19th century fortifications I have toured in the United States - but the size of this complex is incredible.

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  17. So beautiful scenery and a really excellent photo story. With your topnotch photography you are preserving the building history :-)

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  18. I love the warm colours of the bricks! Fabulous shots.

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  19. Such fascinating history, thanks. I like the photos and the scenery of this place. It's good that it is still standing and open to tourists.

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  20. Amazing! What a great place to visit ... love your captures and it's interesting reading!

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  21. What an incredible structure. The Granary is so photogenic! Thanks for the inspiration; see you next week! #wkendtravelinspiration

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  22. Glad it is accessible for tourists -- fortresses and forts always evoke mixed feelings in me ... hate being reminded of the need for them (wars). But as a building this is one of the grandest I've ever seen and that makes it interesting as well as historical (and I do know that we must remember all of history). Beautiful scenery around that fortress as well.

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  23. Interesting building. On the outside it looks more like a concentration camp, but on the inside is quite luxurious. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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  24. Absolutely beautiful....you share the most awesome fotos. Thanks so much for linking up.

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  25. What an interesting fortress! It's absolutely beautiful! We're headed to Poland later in the year, may have to consider this! #TheWeeklyPostcard

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  26. An amazing historical icon. The fortress brickwork is an incredible rich dusky tone. Fascinating post.

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  27. What a wonderful and interesting old fortress!

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  28. That is a very imposing structure!

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  29. Stunning pics - great collection here. My favorite is the Old Granary! : )

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  30. Such an imposing collection of buildings, stunning photos #Monday Escapes

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  31. What a stunning place, both inside and out. Such a sad history, though. #MondayEscapes

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  32. What a treat to go for an explore around all those old barracks. An impressive collection of buildings with so much history #MondayEscapes

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  33. You do not cease to amaze me with all these great places you visit! I am a history buff and would love to visit a place like this! You mentioned the fortress was sold to private investors. Do you think the structure would be conserved? Would not like to think a place like this wold be developed into something else. #MondayEscapes

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  34. It's chilling to read through all that has gone through the walls of the fortress. I love how your photos capture the mood. I can't help wondering is the fortress always so empty? #CityTripping

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  35. What a long, varied and sad history the fortress has had. Incredible to think what has gone on inside its walls. #citytripping

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  36. That fortress has definitely seen its fair share of history. Great photographs, it looks like such a haunting place!

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  37. What a wonder set of images and such an intriguing place to visit. If wall could indeed talk there is an encyclopedia of stories to be told there. Thank you for sharing.

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  38. An interesting place, I'm not sure I'd say it was attractive but your photo's are beautiful! I love the one of the Caucasion Barracks - very atmospheric. #citytripping

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  39. That's a very long and checkered history! I love your photos of the Old Granary. #CityTripping

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  40. Amazing building, let us hope that the new owners find a use for it that has space for public access #CityTripping

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  41. Wow what an interesting place to visit the history is just incredible, its a shame it has gone to disrepair in places, if walls could speak I bet it has some sales to tell, thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes x

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  42. How I would love to tour this fortress! The WWII history of this place as a concentration camp is especially interesting to me. So many places were used as concentration camps though usually we hear only of the largest. Wonderful photos!

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  43. These photographs are wonderful, I love the history of the place. Let's hoe the new owners can make it something special again. Thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes

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  44. Great pictures, looks a fascinating place. Wilbur #citytripping

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  45. Great shots and what history all of these places could tell if they could speak.

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  46. I love that very first image. Stunning.

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