Srebrna Gora (Silver Mountain) was first mentioned in records in the first half of the 14th century. The town was founded when the business of silver extraction started in this area. In the early 16th century, mining was at its height. Silver was extracted in five (later eight) big mines built up in Dolina Srebrna (Silver Valley) and Dolina Chlopiny. In the course of time, silver mining became less and less profitable, thus it was discontinued after the Thirty Years` War. As a result of the First Silesian War, the whole territory of Silesia was put under Prussian government. Frederick II, King of Prussia, supported the rapid enlargement of Srebrna Gora in the attempt to protect the newly conquered countries. The country was divided by two national boundaries. One of them ran along the Oder River, while the other one passed the Sudetes ( Fortresses: Nysa, Klodzko, Swidnica). Nevertheless, in the Third Silesian War, this system proved to be inadequate. Since the Silver Mountain Pass was very poorly guarded, Silesia was soon occupied by the Austrian army under the leadership of General Laudon.
“Brama Orla” (“Gate of the Eagle”) Donjon: bastion of the final defence, the fortress most secure place in which, for instance, the Command was quartered. The Donjon served as security and was surrounded by a dry inner moat of depth of 15 to 20 meters. In front of the gate, there was a wooden bridge which could be easily destroyed in case of danger. Hence, the enemy could no longer enter the fortress. The Donjon was encircled by seven bastions which fulfilled primarily the function of defence. The bastions could withstand any bombardments of the adversary. Additionally, they had economic functions. Inside the bastions, the casemates contained the military hospital, the brewery, the bakery and other institutions. In the event of an attack, the garrison was able to survive in the bastions over a period of three to five months without any contact to the outside world.
The town gained historical significance when the famous fortress was constructed on the Silver Mountain Pass in 1765. 4,000 workers participated in the building`s construction, which was supervised by Colonel Ludwig von Regler, a Prussian engineer. The fortress garrison counted about 2,500 soldiers who worked on the urban development. But the new fortress had also an adverse effect on the town. As a consequence of the battles during the siege of the fortress in 1807, the town was almost completely destroyed. The liquidation of the fortress and its garrison caused the gradual dacay of the town. The fortress lost its military function and, over the years, it became a sightseeing destination. The construction of the railway Sowiogorska facilitaded the access to the mountain pass and the development of international tourism.
The headquarters and the officers` quarters were situated in the Donjon`s court. The small windowas framed by white sandstone served probably as the drains of the domestic water system of the fortress. Large amounts of water were stored in cisterns carved in rock. The cistern in the centre of the court, one of the numerous wells on the territory, is sixty meters deep.
Casemates are the arched rooms in a fortress, covered by a layer of soil which could be easily removed in the case of an attack. On the territory of the fortress, there are about 300 casemates, 150 of them can be found in the Donjon. There are two floors in the casemates: the basement and the ground floor. Originally, they were used as storerooms and living space. In the middle of the 19th century, some of the casemates were turned into storerooms for cannons. In peacetime, food was stored in these rooms. The windows did not have a military function; they were simply a source of light. Stepping closer to the window, one will notice the considerable width of the Donjon`s wall. Since the construction of the casemates, people had complained about the high humidity and the low temperature. As a result, it was impossible to use the casemates as a living space for the soldiers. Instead, new barracks for 1,200 soldiers were built up below the Silver Mountain Pass.
From the top of the Donjon, one has a most impressive panorama of the lowlands. When the weather is fine, the visibility can be down to 5o km. One can view the following massifs: Stolowe Mountains in the west, Orlickie Mountains, Bystrzyckie Mountains and the mountain Snieznik in the south, Zlote Mountain in the east. Furthermore, Bardzkie Mountains and the mountain Sleza can be seen in the distance. One has also a view on the bastions which are situated directly below the top of the Donjon: Miejski, Kawaliera, Rawelin Gwiezdzisty and Nowomiejski.
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