The Golden Gate, also known as “Brama Długouliczna” (Long Street Gate), Gdańsk
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The Golden Gate, also known as “Brama Długouliczna” (Long Street Gate)

Gdańsk

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The Golden Gate is a building of exceptional architectural value, designed by the eminent architect Abraham van den Block and built by Hans Strakowski, a construction entrepreneur. The ideological message of the building, expressed in the form of inscriptions and allegorical sculptures, reflects the main aspirations of the city and the attitudes expected of its citizens.

History

The Golden Gate was erected in years 1612-1614 in place of the medieval Long Street Gate, whose only remnants surviving today are its medieval foundations and a part of the north wall. Abraham van den Block came up with the design, while construction works were supervised by Hans Strakowski. In years 1647-1648, eight stone allegorical statues were positioned on the balustrade; the sculptures were executed by Peter Ringering and - most likely - by Hans Caspar Gockheller. In 1804, alteration works were performed on the first floor of the gatehouse. From now on, the building became connected to the court of the St George Brotherhood (in years 1804-1872, both buildings were used by the academy of fine arts). In the 1870s, the damaged sculptures were replaced with ceramic copies; the original first floor layout was restored in the interwar period. In 1945 the gate was damaged; the initial works aimed at preventing further damage were performed in 1946, while the full-scale reconstruction works began in 1957. The statues were reconstructed on the basis of chalcographies by Jeremias Falck, dating back to 1646). Comprehensive conservation works coupled with the partial reconstruction of the facade decor (wall paintings and gilded decorations) were performed in years 1996-1998.

Description

The building is a stately gate situated on the axis of the western exit from Długa street; it constitutes the final section of the most important transit concourse in the city, forming a significant part of the so-called Royal Route. The building stands directly adjacent to the court of the St George Brotherhood which is situated north of the gate; in the south, the gate abuts a structure accommodating an external stairway to the first floor. The gate is an example of Mannerist architecture with Italian and Dutch influences, designed on a rectangular floor plan; it is a two-storey building featuring a compact shape crowned with a balustrade and an assembly of statues. The building is made of brick, with stone cladding and sculptural decorations, adorned by wall paintings and gilded ornaments. The gateway and walkways feature diamond vaults, while the first floor chamber has a barrel vault with lunettes. Both facades feature an identical design approach and are based on a three-bay triumphal arch layout. The facade is divided horizontally by an entablature with frieze and a pronounced cornice as well as vertically by Ionic columns on plinths in the lower section of the facade and by Corinthian columns in its upper section.

The ground floor facade is pierced by the main gateway positioned on the building’s axis, its opening topped with a round arch; the gateway is flanked by two smaller passages, rectangular in shape, with decorative barred windows positioned directly above. The upper storey features four large, horizontally divided arched windows. A spindled balustrade perched atop the upper cornice provides the crowning touch. Sculptural decorations of the facade include diamond-point and spherical bossage, cabochons and pomegranate decorations. A campanula motif graces the wall between the middle windows on the first floor. Inscriptions are featured on the friezes of the lower entablature: a Latin maxim and date on the eastern facade and a fragment of a psalm (in German) on the western facade. The friezes of the upper storey facade feature festoons, strapwork, plant ornamentation and gargoyles. The balustrade is topped by allegorical sculptures, the statues on the eastern side of the building representing Wisdom, Piety, Justice and Concord, while the statues on the western facade represent Peace, Liberty, Fortune and Fame. A representational chamber accessible via the external staircase features a vaulted ceiling supported by four pillars standing near the walls, topped with Ionic capitals. A viewing terrace is located at the top of the structure.

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

Compiled by Krystyna Babnis, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Gdańsk, 15.07.2014.

Bibliography

  • Friedrich J., Gdańskie zabytki architektury do końca XVIII w., Gdańsk 1997, pp. 60-62.
  • J. Stankiewicz et al., Brama Złota, [in:] Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce. Miasto Gdańsk, part 1: Główne Miasto, Warsaw 2006, pp. 12-14.

General information

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

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