The Lowland Gate, Gdańsk
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The Lowland Gate is one of the few early modern municipal fortified gates which exist in Poland today. A very well preserved structure, it forms a valuable example of 17th-century defence architecture distinguished by exceptional architectural form as well as surviving features characteristic of the function it once performed. As an important element of the early modern fortifications of the city of Gdańsk, it represents one of the stages in the development of municipal fortifications.

History

In the 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 alteration of the western section of the fortifications located in the Old Suburb district. In years 1622-1636 a new, southern section of the bastion fortifications was erected. Designed by Cornelius van den Bosch, it represented the so-called old-Dutch fortification style. The Lowland Gate, incorporated into this strip of fortifications, was intended to prevent the enemy from mounting a successful attack against the city Gdańsk from the lowlands located on the southern side of the city. Initially, the gate faced the Tczew Causeway - the main road leading to Gdańsk from the south. Following the construction of the Orunia Gate, the Lowland Gate was sidelined and lost most of its original significance.

The gate was erected in 1626 according to the design prepared by Jan Strakowski, a construction engineer and fortification expert who learned his trade in the Netherlands. In years 1649-1650, a ravelin was built in front of the gate. Initially the road led through the right face of the ravelin but in the 18th century its course was changed so that it would run through the left face thereof. The entire gate complex was completed in years 1711-1712, with a large scarp with a covered road being erected in front of the ravelin, featuring the so-called arms squares (i.e. squares on which the soldiers would assemble before marching out into battle) in its corners. A second moat was built ahead of the scarp. During the 1930s, the moats and the scarp were levelled. The gate itself, however, survived virtually unchanged, although its interiors were modified in 1974.

Description

The gate is situated on the southern boundary of the Old Suburb district, in the southern line of early modern earthen fortifications; it is incorporated into the curtain wall between the St Gertrude bastion and the Żubr bastion. It is positioned on the axis of the Dolna Brama and Mostowa streets which form an exit from the Old Suburb, leading towards the Olszynka and Orunia districts.

The building is made of brick, its southern facade and architectural detailing made of stone. The structure comprises a tunnel with a gate, leading across the curtain wall, covered with brick barrel vault with lunettes; the gate is flanked with two smaller openings (wicket gates) designed for pedestrians. A single-storey guardhouse rises above the northern gateway (i.e. the one which opens up towards the city); built on a square plan, it features a gable roof with two wall dormers. The gables and the wall dormers feature stepped fractables; the northern wall dormer is adorned with late Renaissance stone decorations in the form of volutes and pinnacles. On the inner side of the curtain wall, the building is adjoined by two symmetrical brick casemates containing the guardroom and the guard’s living quarters. The casemates are built on a trapezium floor plan and feature shed roofs.

The ground floor level of the northern facade if the gate as well as all facades of the guardhouse feature a uniform architectural décor, with brick walls contrasting with stone detailing. The northern facade incorporates the gateway, positioned on the axis of the ground floor section and framed by rusticated quoins, with a keystone adorned with strapwork and foliage motifs positioned in the centre. The gateway is flanked by two rectangular passages for pedestrians, framed by profiled stone surrounds crowned with volutes flanking a decorative panel topped with a shell motif. The northern facade of the guardhouse follows a three-axis design and features a row of three large windows. The eastern and southern facades follow a two-storey, single-axis design with one small window on each level. The wall dormers exhibit a single-axis design, i.e. each of them has a single window. All window openings are rectangular in shape and feature stone window frames. The windows in the northern facade and the dormer windows also feature stone mullions and transoms. The eastern facade of the guardhouse incorporates the entrance into the building positioned at the rampart level. The facades of the casemates as seen from the side where the passage is located (i.e. the eastern facade of the western casemate and the western facade of the eastern casemate) feature a portal positioned on the axis thereof as well as two rectangular windows. The northern facade also features a number of individual window openings which were created at a later date. Inside, the casemates feature barrel vaults with lunettes.

The southern facade of the building (as seen from the side where the moat is located) is clad with stone blocks. The middle section of the facade is accentuated with four pilasters supporting an entablature and a profiled cornice. The gateway, topped with a semi-circular arch with voussoirs, is positioned on the axis of the facade, flanked by two rectangular wicket gates for pedestrians. The keystone incorporates the coat of arms of the city of Gdańsk, while the date “1626” is displayed on the entablature. The side sections of the facade take the form of slanted retaining walls covered with rusticated stone blocks.

The gatehouse also features the surviving original doors, made of wood and adorned with iron bosses, as well as the smaller side doors in the wicket gates flanking the main gateway.

Limited access to the historic building.

Compiled by Beata Dygulska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Gdańsk, 15.07.2014.

Bibliography

  • Bukal G., Fortyfikacje Gdańska i ujścia Wisły 1454-1793, Sopot 2012, s. 386-388.
  • Friedrich J., Gdańskie zabytki architektury do końca XVIII w., Gdańsk 1997, s. 55-57.
  • Karta ewidencyjna, Brama Nizinna, oprac. Wiśniewska E., Warszawa 1984, Archiwum NID.
  • Stankiewicz J., Biskup K., Fortyfikacje miejskie Gdańska od XVI do XIX w., Teka Gdańska, t. 3, cz. 1, Gdańsk 1998, s. 99-100.

General information

  • Type: defensive wall
  • Chronology: 1 poł. XVII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Dolna Brama , Gdańsk
  • Location: Voivodeship pomorskie, district Gdańsk, commune Gdańsk
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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