The Bastion of St Gertrude, Gdańsk
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The early modern bastion-type fortifications built around Gdańsk are one of the most extensive and most significant such systems in all of northern Europe. The Bastion of St Gertrude is one of the very few surviving structures of this type anywhere in Poland. Its distinguishing features include a complex shape and an interior layout incorporating a number of casemates - features which make it one of the most fascinating of all bastions in Gdańsk. The building is an example of 17th-century military architecture and represents one of the stages in the development of municipal fortifications. The structure is also an important part of the landscape of modern Gdańsk due to its prominent location.

History

In the mid- 16th century, the medieval fortifications built around the city of Gdańsk were already becoming obsolete; for this reason, the municipal authorities decided to erect a new set of fortifications. In 1547, the construction of the early modern fortifications (incorporating roundels and, subsequently, bastions) began. The new fortifications were built along the western side of the Old Town and the Main Town. In 1593, Anthonis von Obbergen drew up a plan for the modification and extension of another section of the fortifications in order to provide protection to the Old Suburb which, up to that point, remained the weakest link insofar as defences were concerned. The Bastion of St Gertrude was built in a strategically crucial point - the southern edge of the western line of fortifications surrounding the city. In years 1622-1636, another, southern line of bastion fortifications was built, connected to the Bastion of St Gertrude itself. The bastion owes its name to the Hospital of St Gertrude, which is situated nearby.

The bastion represented the so-called New Italian system, distinguished by receding flanks. The construction of the structure was most probably started in 1593 and completed in 1607. Initially the bastion was lower than it is today, with a road leading through the right face thereof from the New Gate; this road remained in use until 1626, when the Lowland Gate was erected. In 1641, casemates were built inside the bastion; the cavalier was probably also built during that time.

In 1841, the scarp wall was refurbished. In 1875 the cavalier was modified, while the right flank of the bastion was demolished after 1895. After World War II, the casemates inside the bastion were used as a storage facility by the “Unimor” Radio and Television Manufacturing Plant in Gdańsk until 1993. Today, the structure remains disused.

Description

The Bastion of St Gertrude, which is situated in the Old Suburb district, constitutes the sole surviving bastion in the former western line of the early modern fortifications which once defended the city of Gdańsk. The existing, southern line of fortifications abuts the bastion from the east. The Bastion of St Gertrude is connected by a curtain wall with the neighbouring Żubr (Buffalo) bastion and the Lowland Gate positioned in the curtain wall. It is surrounded by a moat from the south, east and west. The north side of the bastion borders on the square known as Plac Wałowy and the buildings forming part of the Old Suburb.

The structure was built on a pentagonal plan. The front section of the building faces the south-east; the bastion opens up towards the city from the north-west. The structure has the form of an earth bank covered with turf. Casemates are located inside the bastion. The structure features three distinct levels - the low rampart at its base, the higher rampart in the centre and the cavalier at the top. The lower rampart is reinforced by buttresses. The scarp is reinforced with an original brick wall; the corners and cornices of the wall are made of stone. The section of the high rampart on the side of the structure which lies closer to the city is also supported by buttresses and reinforced with a brick wall, which might either have been a part of the structure originally or which might have been added during the 19th century; the wall was also modified during the 19th century. The wall is topped with a stone cornice and features a number of window openings and gates. A brick gate designed in the Renaissance style leads from Plac Wałowy (the Square under the Ramparts) towards the postern. It is believed that it is this gate that initially carried the name “New Gate” and through which the road across the bastion once led. The gate is topped with a semi-circular arch framed with rusticated stone quoins. The keystone incorporates the date “1607”. The doors inside the gateway are a modern addition.

The casemates and posterns are made of brick. A postern leading from the gate subsequently bifurcates into two separate sections which lead towards two casemates. The casemates are nearly inaccessible due to the fact that the entrance is buried underground. A chamber featuring a barrel vault with lunettes is situated next to the postern leading to the left casemate. The left postern features bricked-up openings which might have once been windows, framed with stone surrounds. The postern exit can be seen outside the bastion, in the eastern slope of the higher rampart.

Limited access to the historic building. The structure can only be viewed from the outside.

Compiled by Beata Dygulska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Gdańsk, 16.07.2014.

Bibliography

  • Bukal G., Fortyfikacje Gdańska i ujścia Wisły 1454-1793, Sopot 2012, s. 340.
  • Friedrich J., Gdańskie zabytki architektury do końca XVIII w., Gdańsk 1997, s. 49.
  • Stankiewicz J., Biskup K., Fortyfikacje miejskie Gdańska od XVI do XIX w., Teka Gdańska, t. 3, cz. 1, Gdańsk 1998, s. 100-101.
  • Karta ewidencyjna, Bastion Św. Gertrudy, oprac. Kartanowicz T., Warszawa 2000, Archiwum NID.

General information

  • Type: defensive architecture
  • Chronology: koniec XVI w. - początek XVII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: plac Wałowy , Gdańsk
  • Location: Voivodeship pomorskie, district Gdańsk, commune Gdańsk
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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