Bastions Of Narva

Narva, Ida-Virumaa



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Narva, Ida-Virumaa

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Bastions Of Narva / Esittely

Despite the investments into Narva's defences, made during almost a half a century, the Swedish Kingdom had to admit in the mid-17th century that Narva's defences could not have been able to withstand the quickly developing offensive weaponry. And although leaders of the fortification service, created in 1635, prepared plans for expansion of Narva and surrounding the town with new bastions, the town could actually only deal with fixing the existing fortifications. Construction activity became more intense again in the years 1676-80, when the new Wrangel Bastion was established on the river-facing side, whereas the Coastal Gate (Rannavarav) opening to the east was reconstructed as the New (Uus) Gate, later called the Dark Gate (Pimevarav), and the Herd Gate (Karjavarav) opening to the north was fortified with a separate ravelin-like stronghold. The fortifications were supplemented with batteries built for cannons, one of which was established in the north-eastern corner of the castle, where the Estonian flag is flying today. At a task given by the Swedish king, the fortifications of Narva were inspected by Erik Dahlberg, the then leader of the fortification service and an outstanding military engineer. He, in his critical report, stated that Narva's fortifications were unsatisfactory, and the existing modernisation plans were bad or too expensive. Dahlberg presented his proposals to the king, and one of the proposals was approved by the king in 1683. This was a totally new fortification system: the existing defences based on the medieval town wall remained inside the defence zone planned by Dahlberg and lost their function actually. Of the old zone, only the river-facing side remained on the same line, whereas building area in the north and west direction was expanded. The work was modestly started in 1682 and continued in an increasing tempo year after year until the conquering of Narva by the Russians in 1704. Although the construction work stopped with the beginning of the war, a large part of what was planned by Dahlberg was completed before the war. The establishment of the bastions required unprecedented resources from Narva: during the last years of the work, over 1,500 men worked on the construction, and over 40,000 state talers per year were spent (as a comparison: Tallinn received under 20,000 talers per year, Tartu and Parnu only up to 7,000 talers). The construction of Narva's new bastions cost nearly 900,000 talers in total. Owing to such colossal expenses, Narva obtained one of the most powerful defence systems in the Northern Europe of those days.

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