Dragoons Barracks (Koszary Dragonów)
Gietkowska Dąbrowskiego Dragonów
In the late 19th century, Olsztyn earned the nickname “Kasernepolis”, meaning “the city of barracks”. The size of the local garrison grown steadily (in 1912 every 7th citizen wore the uniform), therefore the additional buildings were erected. The Dragoons Barracks are the oldest preserved construction and look most presentable of all.
The substantial part of the barracks was built in the years 1884-1886 for the 10th East Prussian Dragoon Regiment of King Albert of Saxony (10 Wschodniopruski Pułk Dragonów Króla Alberta Saskiego). It was an elite cavalry formation which previously stationed in Metz. It took five trains to transport about 700 soldiers and officers together with their horses.
Housing for both people and mounts
The complex was built on the Soja Hill at the intersection of today's Gietkowska and Dąbrowskiego streets and is an interesting example of the original military construction. Five barracks were built here altogether, one for each of the squadrons of the regiment. A separate spacious building housed the kitchen and the canteen. On the other side of Gietkowska street, stables and riding schools were built which surrounded four training grounds. The equestrian drills took place where today’s KS “Budowlani” stadium is located. And in the bend of Łyna River, near the forest, officers’ casino was built. Later the complex was extended with more buildings; some of them were rebuilt during the interwar period. After the regiment was liquidated, other cavalry formations stationed in the barracks. In 1945 the complex was burned by the Red Army. Within a few years after the war, new residents of Olsztyn rebuilt it and individual buildings were used as a storage and warehouses. To some extent, they perform these functions still today, although some of them were severely damaged.
Redevelopment of the former barracks
In 2000 the Dragoons Barracks, covering about 11ha, have been entered into the register of monuments. The entire historical site, consisting of a total of 26 buildings and supplemental green areas, is now protected. Today, the complex is included in the program of revitalization and has become the subject of keen interest from the residents of Olsztyn. There are different concepts of its renovation and the final destination of the buildings. Occasionally, the area is used for cultural events organized by the local artists who recognize the potential of the Dragoons Barracks for the promotion and development of art.
According to historians, the revitalization should restore the original shape of the structure and the spatial arrangement of the complex for it to become a material witness to the city’s history.