Main City Hall, currently the Gdańsk History Museum, Gdańsk
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Main City Hall, currently the Gdańsk History Museum

Gdańsk

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The Main City Hall is one of the most valuable monuments of the city and the Mannerist décor of the Red Room is one of the most beautiful city hall interiors in Europe.

History

According to historical records of the 17th century, the first town hall was built in 1327-36 (relics in the walls of the eastern sections). In 1379-1282, the structure was extended to the west (H. Ungeradin). In 1486-1492, the body of the building was made taller, a tall parapet wall was added, and the tower was extended upwards. Another extension to the town hall was made around the mid-16th century. It involved the extension of the building by three two-storey wings. In 1556, the dome and the tower interior were destroyed in a fire. In 1559-1560, the tower was reconstructed with a decorative Renaissance dome (master Dirk Daniels). In 1593-1596, the building underwent alterations under the supervision of A. van Obberghen, which involved upward extension to the body and wings, enlargement of widows, and addition of domes on the parapet wall. In the late 16th century and early 17th century, the spectacular interior of the town hall was fitted with lavish furnishings; the décor is the result of the work of outstanding artists, including Izaak van den Block, Hans Vredeman de Vries, and Anton Moeller. Other important dates in the history of the city hall of the City of Gdańsk are the construction of a new main portal (1766-1768, D. Eggert), upward extension to a city hall wing by a third floor, and refurnishing of the Great Hall of Weta (1841-1846). In 1943, the furnishings of the Great Council Hall was dismantled and taken out of the city; the roofs, ceilings, dome and tower interior were destroyed by fire in the spring of 1945. The reconstruction of the historic building began as early as in 1946; until 1954, roofs were built, tower interior was rebuilt, and dome, ceilings and turrets were reconstructed. Between 1964 and 1970 the building underwent maintenance, the furnishings were reconstructed, and the northern wing was extended. In April 1970, the city hall was adapted for use as a museum. In 1992 and 1996, the façades and tower were renovated and the exposed façade paintings were partially reconstructed; a new carillon was made in 2000; and in 2011 the upper section of the dome was removed and renovated.

Description

The Main City Hall was built on a corner plot, in the northern frontage of Długa Street, at the intersection with Długi Targ and Kramarska Streets. The Gothic and Renaissance building is strikingly similar to the architecture of Flemish cities (Ghent, Bruges). The main body has two floors and a basement. It was built on a floor plan of an elongated rectangle. The eight-storey tower with a square floor plan was built along the front façade. To the north, the body adjoins three-storey wings forming a quadrangular yard. The body and wings are covered with gable roofs; the tower with a dome with two lanterns, which is surmounted by a statue. The city hall is built of brick (Gothic and Dutch brick) and features groin vaults, barrel vaults, diamond vaults, and wooden ceilings. The roofs of the city hall are clad with ceramic tiles; the domes of the tower and turrets with copper sheet metal. The front façade has many axes and is characterised by irregularly spaced windows, main portal, and vaulted gateway. The storeys were separated by stone cornices; most of the windows are rectangular, fitted with stone reveals and cross-shaped partitions. The stone portal is framed by fluted columns; under the broken pediment is the Gdańsk coat of arms; the stoop features a half-turn staircase and stone openwork balustrade. The eastern façade has four axes (partitioned by cornices and window surrounds as on the front façade), is topped with a tall, lavishly decorated parapet wall, flanked by overhanging turrets. The original monochrome painted decorations (1552) have been preserved on both façades of the body. The three top storeys of the tower are accentuated with corner turrets and decorative blind windows; the structure is topped by a stone balustrade (1560) as finial. The most spectacular rooms are located on the first floor. A particularly notable room is the Great Council Hall (Red Hall). Its great décor in the Dutch Mannerism style was designed by Hans Vredeman de Vries in 1593-1596, and then supplemented in 1606-1608 and in the 18th century. It comprises, among others, relief and marquetry frieze, painted fireplace, set of didactic wall paintings (by Hans Vredeman de Vries), and lavish ceiling with 25 paintings by Isaak van den Block, of which the “The Apotheosis of Gdańsk” is the best known.

The monument is open to visitors. Visiting hours are set by the Gdańsk History Museum at: http://mhmg.pl/oddzial/1/ratusz-glownego-miasta

compiled by Krystyna Babnis, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Gdańsk, 25-09-2014.

Bibliography

  • Bojaruniec E., Paluchowski P., Gliński M., Ratusz Głównego Miasta, [w:] Encyklopedia Gdańska, red. naukowa B. Śliwiński, Gdańsk 2012, s. 866-870.
  • Roll B., Ratusz Głównego Miasta [w:] Katalog Zabytków Sztuki, pod red. B. Roll i I. Strzeleckiej, Miasto Gdańsk, cz. 1, Główne Miasto, Warszawa 2006, s. 33-48.

General information

  • Type: town hall
  • Chronology: 2 poł. XIV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Długa 46, Gdańsk
  • Location: Voivodeship pomorskie, district Gdańsk, commune Gdańsk
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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