Osowiec Fortress
Osowiec Fortress - a 19th century fortress located in north-eastern Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, originally built by the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. The Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 name is Крепость Осовец i.e. Krepost Osovets. In English sources it is variously given as Osowiec , Osovets, Ossovetz, Osovetz and Ossovets. It saw heavy fighting during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 when it was heroically defended for many months by its Russian garrison against German attacks.

The fortress was built in the years 1882-1892 as one of the defensive works to protect the western borders of Russia against Germany
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, and continuously modernised afterwards to cope with advances in heavy siege artillery. It was located on the river Biebrza
Biebrza is a river in north-eastern Poland, a tributary of the Narew river , with a length of 155 kilometres and the basin area of 7,057 km2...

 about 50 km from the border with the German province of East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

, in the one place where the marshlands of the river could be crossed, hence controlling a vital chokepoint. The extensive marshlands and bogs which surrounded it made access by attackers difficult. The strategic Białystok - Ełk (Lyck) - Königsberg
Königsberg was the capital of East Prussia from the Late Middle Ages until 1945 as well as the northernmost and easternmost German city with 286,666 inhabitants . Due to the multicultural society in and around the city, there are several local names for it...

Kaliningrad is a seaport and the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea...

) rail line ran through the fortress and crossed the Biebrza river there. The fortress saw heavy fighting during World War I from September 1914 until the Russian Army abandoned it in August 1915. In the interwar years the fortress was used by the Polish Army. During the German invasion of Poland in 1939 it was bypassed and did not see much fighting.

Today some parts of the fortress have been made accessible to tourists, especially those which are within the boundaries of Biebrza National Park
Biebrza National Park
Biebrza National Park is a national park in Podlaskie Voivodeship, northeastern Poland, situated along the Biebrza River.The largest of Poland’s 23 National Parks, the Biebrza National Park was created on September 9, 1993...

. The visitor information center of the park is located in Osowiec-Twierdza
Osowiec-Twierdza is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Goniądz, in Mońki County, Podlaskie Voivodeship, in north-eastern Poland. It lies approximately south of Goniądz, north-west of Mońki, and north-west of the regional capital Białystok...

, a small settlement located within the boundaries of the fortress. Other parts of the fortress still belong to the Polish military and access is restricted.
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