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Győr - The archaeological exploration of Dunakapu square

Like almost all objects of the Renaissance military architecture in the Carpathian Basin, the fortress of Győr was also built after decades of Hungary’s defeat at Mohács by the Turks, but it is considered to an especially early one in the defence system, which was set up along the marching route leading from the heart of the country to Austria. After two Ottoman invasions against Vienna, it was decided in 1539 to reinforce the city that was also protected by an otherwise medieval castle, although as such, was almost useless against serious artillery attacks. The actual construction works started in 1542, after the fall of Buda castle, but at the beginning mostly wood-earth fortifications were erected. It was decided in 1555 to build a modern, stone-brick fortress, which included the old fort and the entire city, and which became the centre of the defence system against the Turks by 1562, and also the seat of a military headquarters.

If one walks through the downtown of Győr, the outstanding tactical value of the core city is still striking King despite of the modern buildings. The bishop's castle and the core city to its east were together protected from north by the Moson-Danube and from west by the Rába River. So it was sufficient enough to concentrate on the eastern and southern defences only. The walls were quickly pulled up. The fortress had already stood in the 1560s, but its completion, e.g. the building of handrails, took several more decades. That is why the castle could fall to a two-month Turkish siege in 1594. Four years later, when the Christian army expelled the Turks, extensive restoration works started anew. In the 1660s further major expansion plans were considered, however little of them were realized.

The fortress city - a fenced area that was so huge that Győr evolved it only by the end of the 18th century – was otherwise a man-made island, since it was enclosed on the south and east by a moat. At the particularly vulnerable section to the siege there was only one gate, the gate of Fehérvár, while the gate of Vienna was located in the west and the Danube gate in the north.

By the 18th century the fortress - like others in the northern part of the Carpathian Basin - has become rather an annoyance to the city as its strategic role had diminished, and despite the enlargements its security system were getting obsolete. Since it was a treasury property and was under the authority of the military, it’s dismantling was not possible until 1820, when the ruler presented it to Győr city. The enthusiastic citizens quickly demolished the eastern and southern sections, but the northern part of the castle was spared temporarily, thanks a new function it had. By the middle of the 18th century the so-called artillerymen’s houses were built at the southern part of the bastions, the casemates served as dungeons, and the bastion itself and the fort wall became flood control structures. The parts above the ground level were dismantled totally only by the 1930s, when the square was formed and its area was filled. The row of houses in the south was torn down at that time, too.

The Danube gate was situated in the western corner of the today’s square, near to the bridge that still stands today. The gate was also protected by the tower, and the city could be entered through its wide tunnel-like passage doorway leading through the thick ramparts that were supporting the walls. It is open to guessing how much has remained of the gate, since it could have been seriously damaged, when the bridge's foundation was built. The János Xantus Museum began the exploration of the square in 2011, led by archaeologist Andrea Deák. The excavations, preceding the construction of an underground parking, includes the whole square and goes to a depth of 5 meters.

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Új Széchenyi Terv
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A projektek az Európai Unió támogatásával valósulnak meg.
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