Gdańsk’s Town Hall – Iron Beauty

Gdańsk is a never ending surprise.

Although terribly destroyed by the Red Army in 1945, nearly totally flattened (destruction ranging ca. 90% of the city’s structure), the city was wonderfully rebuilt, reconstructed and restored. Toady some say, that there are no mysteries in the city, as it has been so thoroughly researched… Many pieces of art have been taken by both local, and state museums. You can also find Gdańsk’s pieces in foreign museums too.

However, as I wrote in the first sentence – Gdańsk is ready to still surprise us. And sure it does. So, last year ended once again with some artistic and historical sensations. This time the splendid Gdańsk Town Hall surprised us again.

After big restoration works there, unknown details of the decor from 1683 were uncovered. That is, polychrome hidden for over 150 years on the iron gate in the hall of the Main Town Hall.

The lattice closing the entrance to the stairs in the hall of the Main Town Hall is a unique monument, showing and confirming the high level of Gdańsk artistic craftsmanship in the 17th century. Weighing just over 30 kilograms, a black metal grate measuring 2 x 1.20 m closes the entrance to the stairs in the hall of the Main Town Hall. During the conservation works, it turned out that there were polychromes from 1683 under the black layer. – The mid-nineteenth century is a special time for monuments. – says one of the conservators – not only the walls in the Gothic interiors were whitewashed at that time. Iron decorated details according to contemporary fashion were supposed to imitate cast iron.

Currently, thanks to the laser cleaning of the metal, the polychrome from the end of the 17th century has appeared under the black layer.

Conservators say that:

The Grating of the Main Town Hall is distinguished by a painting work that gives the flat silhouettes of chimeras and deer or flowers and leaves the illusion of spatiality – that is, the third dimension. This multi-colored study and careful modeling places the town hall monument next to the best examples of artistic monuments from southern Germany. and Austria.

The date – 1683 – has been preserved on the grate, which allows to specify the dating of the elements of the town hall hall decoration. An interesting fact is also the infrequently appearing blacksmith’s sign (IS or SI) .

The conservators say that the recovery of the valuable polychrome from under the layers of repainting was possible thanks to the use of modern technology. A laser technique with parameters specially developed for this object was used to separate the layers of repainting.

HERE are pictures I took while visiting the Town Hall, after the restoration works.

Those of my Dear Readers, who have travelled with me through Poland, know that the  iron forged lattices from Gdańsk were very much appreciated all over Europe. In Poland we can find them (among the others) in the Cathedral of Gniezno

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