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:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.