Discover History: City Fortifications
Photo: Stadtarchiv Chemnitz / May Voigt
The city was fortified as early as the mid-13th century. In 1264, the old Johanniskirche (St John‘s church) on what is today Zschopauer Strasse was described as being “extra muros”, meaning “outside the city walls”. The stone fortifications were probably built in 1237 on the orders of King Conrad IV.
The main wall of the city fortifications was 5.70 metres tall and between 1.40 and 1.70 metres thick. The outer bailey wall from the 14th century in front of it was 3.50 metres tall and 0.85 metres thick. It was built from quarry stone and reinforced with bricks. The wooden battlements and bailey wall were covered by a shingle roof. The city is understood to have been surrounded by 25 defensive towers.
The city walls were restored in the late 14th century. The imposing city gates were also built at this time: the Johannistor (St John‘s Gate), Chemnitzer Tor (Chemnitz Gate), Nikolaitor (St. Nicholas‘ Gate) and the Klostertor (Abbey Gate). Through the ages, the city fortifications lost its functions and importance.
In the beginning of the 19th century the main wall were taken down. The city gates were only used for toll collection and were mainly an obstruction to traffic, since the city was now open on all sides. Toll booths were finally erected outside the city‘s suburbs in 1827, and the city gates were demolished.
The last requests from landowners that the city tear down the remains of the fortifications in order to enable the building of residential properties can be traced to 1899.