A barbican (from Old French: barbacane) is a fortified outpost or gateway, such as an outer defence to a city or castle, or any tower situated over a gate or bridge which was used for defensive purposes.

Usually barbicans were situated outside the main line of defences and connected to the city walls with a walled road called the neck.[1] In the 15th century, with the improvement in siege tactics and artillery, barbicans lost their significance.[2] However, several barbicans were built even in the 16th century.

Fortified or mock-fortified gatehouses remained a feature of ambitious French and English residences into the 17th century.

Fortifications in East Asia also feature high structures. In particular, gates in Chinese city walls were often defended by an additional "archery tower" in front of the main gatehouse, with the two towers connected by walls extending out from the main fortification. Called literally "jar walls", they are often referred to as "barbicans" in English.[3]

See also


  1. "Castle Barbican". medievalchronicles. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  2. "Castle Architecture - Gateways & Barbicans". Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  3. Quan, Yuan. "New realities 'rebuild' Beijing's lost city gates". China Daily. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  4. "6 images that show what it's like to live in one of the world's most famous buildings". The Independent. 26 November 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2019.

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