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 Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.