The Artus Court (Dwór Artusa) was used to be the meeting place of merchants and a centre of social life. Today it is a point of interest of numerous visitors and a branch of the Gdańsk History Museum. The name was taken from the very popular medieval legend of King Arthur - a symbol of chivalry and gallantry. The heyday of the Artus Court falls into 16th and 17th century, but its history is much longer. The name of the building curia regis Artus (The Court of King Artus), which was built in the years 1348-1350, appeared for the first time in 1357 in the municipal note about the land rental from 1350.
Another building was probably built in 1379. Its traces were probably found during the archeological excavations in 1991. This building of the Court burnt down in 1476. It was reconstructed few years later, and in 1552 a new façade was constructed which was once more rebuilt in 1617 by Abraham van den Blocke in the style of Dutch Mannerism. The building was adorned with statues of antique heroes, allegories of strength and justice above and the statue of Fortuna on the gable. Medallions with busts of King of Poland Sigismund III Vasa and his son Władysław IV Vasa, who was a prince at that time, were placed on each side of the portal. Throughout the Lutheran Reformation the Reinhold's bench organized an anti-catholic carnival play in 1522, which was staged inside the court.
The interior is one big Gothic hall. Since 1531 it has been completely redecorated - the walls have been covered with wainscot and friezes of mythological and historical character. The richly ornamented furniture and numerous paintings add to the splendour of the hall. The most famous ones are, among others, the works by anonymous artists from the late 15th century - Siege of Marienburg, The Ship of the Church, Orpheus among animals by Hans Vredeman de Vries from 1596 and Last Judgment by Anton Möller. The last painting caused much controversy, as the artist has used the scenery of the city and depicted some significant figures of the period as allegorical characters, such as Pride or Faithlessness. The hall was decorated not only with paintings but also tapestries, ship models, armours, coats of arms, or a cage with exotic birds. The other interesting decoration is the 11-metre high furnace made by Georg Stelzner between 1545-1546. It is covered with 520 tiles depicting the greatest European leaders, both the Protestants - supporters of the Schmalkaldic League, and the Catholics, among which are portraits of Isabella of Portugal and Charles V.
Artus Court was seriously damaged in 1945, but it was rebuilt after the war. A vast part of the equipment, including the furnace, was reconstructed with the use of materials from the city hidden before the front's moving into Gdańsk. On the front wall of the Court there is a memorial board from 1965 commemorating the 20th anniversary of placing the Polish flag on the Artus Court by the soldiers of the 1st Armoured Brigade.
Currently the interior of the Artus Court is open for visitors - there is also the department of the Gdańsk History Museum.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).