The Upland Gate, Gdańsk
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The Upland Gate - the main city gate of the City of Gdańsk - was designed as an impressive first stage of the so-called Royal Route. It was at this gate that the welcome ceremonies for monarchs who came to visit Gdańsk were held. The building is an example of a harmonious blend of defensive and official functions. The ideological message expressed through the ornamentation of the frieze in the western part of the building centres around the links between both Gdańsk and Royal Prussia with the Polish Commonwealth.

History

The Upland Gate was built in years 1574-1575 as one of the components of the western section of the bastion-type fortifications built around the city. It was most likely designed by Hans Kramer. In 1576, the gate received wrought iron doors and a wooden drawbridge spanning across the moat; in years 1586-1588, the western facade was enriched through the addition of stone decorations by Willem van den Block. In years 1878-1879, at a time when the 16th-century earth ramparts were being levelled, the gate became a free-standing structure. Its side walls received a rusticated stone cladding, while in 1884 the eastern facade was redesigned, with the earlier decorations by Willem van den Block serving as a source of inspiration. Having lost its original function, the gate building served as a guardhouse, the gateway and side passages having been closed off. In 1903, the statue of Emperor Wilhelm I on horseback was positioned on the square west of the gate. During World War II the roof and stonework of the building were damaged. In 1946 and in years 1949-1950, the first series of repair works was carried out; the conservation works continued in the 1960s, including the reconstruction of a damaged sculpture of a lion crowning the facade. From 2002 onwards, the administration of the building is the responsibility of the Historical Museum of the City of Gdańsk, which performed a comprehensive restoration of the gate in years 2010-2011. From 2012 onwards, the Pomeranian Tourist Information Centre has its offices inside the building.

Description

The gate was erected on the axis of what is now known as Długa street, within the western section of the early modern defensive ramparts built around the city. Following the levelling of the ramparts, the gate formed part of the eastern frontage of the Wały Jagiellońskie street. The building is an example of Mannerist architecture, its forms reminiscent of the Gate of St George in Antwerp. The gate was built on a rectangular floor plan as a two-storey structure with a basement. An arcaded gateway leads through the ground floor section of the building, flanked by two lower, narrower wicket gates. The building is topped with a hip roof with a flat top section. The walls are made of brick with stone cladding; the passage inside the building features a groin vault, while the side passages and rooms on the first floor have barrel vaults. The roof is clad with stone tiles. The lower sections of the facade feature rusticated stone cladding, the rustication itself taking the form of a foliage motif in counter-relief. The entablature above the rusticated section of the facade follows the line of the walls beneath, projecting outwards as it reaches the pilasters partitioning the facade. The frieze on the western facade carries the inscription ANNO 1588 FACIEBAT as well as three Latin maxims, with a broad heraldic frieze above the entablature, incorporating elaborate coats of arms of Poland, Royal Prussia and Gdańsk in high relief. The eastern facade features the inscribed date 1884 as well as the coat of arms of the House of Hohenzollern. The cornice crowning the building is topped with four sculpted lions in the front and pinnacles shaped as spheres and obelisks at the back.

The northern wall contains the staircase connecting all the levels of the building together as well as the preserved fragments of a wooden mechanism which was once used to operate the drawbridge. The interiors of the building are entirely modern in design, the ground floor containing a reception room with mezzanines, with a conference room on the first floor.

Limited access to the historic building. The building can be visited during the opening hours of the Pomeranian Centre for Tourist Information (more information available at http://www.prot.gda.pl/pomorskie-centrum-informacji-turystycznej).

Compiled by Krystyna Babnis, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Gdańsk, 27.08.2014.

Bibliography

  • Załęska J., Brama Wyżynna, [w:] Śliwiński B. (red. nauk.), Encyklopedia Gdańska, Gdańsk 2012, s. 121-122.
  • Friedrich J., Gdańskie zabytki architektury do końca XVIII w., Gdańsk 1997, s. 53-55.
  • Stankiewicz J. [z uzupełnieniami in. autorów], Brama Wyżynna, [w:] Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce. Miasto Gdańsk, cz. 1: Główne Miasto, Warszawa 2006, s. 21-23.

General information

  • Type: defensive wall
  • Chronology: 2 poł. XVI w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Wały Jagiellońskie 2a, Gdańsk
  • Location: Voivodeship pomorskie, district Gdańsk, commune Gdańsk
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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