The main headquarters of the Gdańsk History Museum is a Gothic-Renaissance Main Town Hall, dominating the panorama of the Royal Route – the most representative route of the listed part of the city. The origins of the Town Hall, which from the very beginning was the seat of the authorities of the main Gdańsk area, from the 14th century referred to as the Main City, go back to the early Middle Ages. From the mid-15th century it became the centre of power for the entire area located on the Motława river. It served this function for a few centuries, and throughout this time was the main municipal building.
The exact date of the creation of the building is unknown. According to 17th century Gdansk chronicler, Stephan Graua, the construction of the Town Hall was started in the spring of 1327 and completed in December 1336. The Gdańsk chronicler did not however provide the source of this information. In the 14th century the Town Hall was probably a small one-storey building constructed as a frame structure from bricks and wood.
The accounting books from 1379 – 1382 contain information on the expenditures on building materials and works carried out in the Town Hall by the bricklayer Heinrich Ungeradin. The works concerned the reconstruction and extension of the building to the west. The next extension of the building was carried out from 1454 – 1457. In 1457 Gdansk was visited by the Polish king, Casimir Jagiellon. In the enlarged and renovated Main Town Hall, the Polish ruler added the crown to the Gdańsk coat of arms as visible evidence of recognising it as a royal city.
The general development of the city and the enlargement of the city’s local government by King Sigismund I the Old in 1526 by adding a third chamber (the first one formed the Council, the second the Board) for the representation of the merchants and guilds, brought about further extension of the building. The building in its current size was not able to fulfil its regular and occasional functions (it accommodated the Mayor’s office; the City Council and the court held their meetings in the building; it was the seat of the burgrave, who was the representative of the Polish king in the city; and in addition it was a meeting place of the Third Chamber). Around 1537 the construction of a two-storey high annex started around the internal courtyard in the place of the former inn.
On October 3, 1556 a hazardous fire broke out in the Town Hall. Repair of the damage took several years and initiated the reconstruction of the building in the Renaissance style. First, from 1559 – 1560 a new glamorous cupola for the tower was constructed and on its spire a gold covered statue of the then Polish king, Sigismund II August, was installed in 1561. A set of 14 chime bells, called a carillon, was installed inside the cupola.
The Gdańsk merchants were becoming increasingly rich on trade and strived to accentuate the city’s position by giving appropriate splendour to the interior of the Town Hall. At the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th century, this interior was decorated by artists of the golden age of Gdańsk arts, including such masters as: Izaak van den Block, Hans Vredeman de Vries, Willem van der Meer, Anton Moeller and Szymon Herle. Overall administration of the works was managed by Dutchman, Anton van Obberghen, who at the time held the position of town builder.
The first floor became the most representative storey. It accommodated the most important rooms of the Town Hall – the Great Council Hall, also called the Red Hall, and the Great Wety Hall, from the 19th century called the White Hall. Beautiful rooms were also created inside the annex, to which two wings (northern and eastern) were added in the 16th century, which include the Small Council Hall (also called the Winter Hall) and the Small Wety Court Hall (the Fireplace Hall). The annex and the side wings formed a rectangular internal courtyard.
The seizure of Gdańsk by Prussia under the second partition of Poland brought about changes to the city’s government system. This was also reflected in the new functional layout of the Town Hall, as in the creation of the Mayor’s office in the former Town Cash Office Hall.
This valuable monument was badly damaged during World War II. In March 1945 fire destroyed the cupola of the tower, while the wooden ceilings and the walls were damaged by bombs and gunfire. The saved fragments of the walls were so weak that even an ordinary storm could be disastrous. According to preliminary arrangements, the building was not fit for reconstruction and was classified for demolition. However in the end the building survived.
Reconstruction of the town hall, started in 1946, was a difficult project and is regarded as one of the outstanding Polish post-war conservation achievements. After extensive bricklaying-conservation work, on 2 April 1970, the reconstructed town hall was commissioned to accommodate the Gdańsk Historical Museum, which since 2000 has been the Gdańsk History Museum.References:
Main Town Hall makes a really big impression. With In Gdansk you will find many such climatic places and certainly one of them is a restaurant Szafarnia 10, located on the Marina. There you can eat not only delicious fish and seafood, but also admire Moltawa River, fron the glass part of the building.
The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.
The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.
In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.
In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.
After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.
In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.
In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.