Gdansk Gothic Route
The Gothic style in art and architecture evolved thanks to new structural solutions, which allowed to go beyond the previously applied principles of erecting buildings and to achieve a new type of solid. After the era of heavy Romanesque buildings, it was time for the slenderness of Gothic buildings. Thanks to this, it was possible to build not only much higher buildings, but also much better illuminated by larger windows. We invite you to follow the Gdansk Gothic Route!
Once, going from the Long Street to Coal Market, we would cross the Long Street Gate (1346) and reach the Long Street Foregate Complex, which exists to this day. Under this complicated name, there are buildings that can be found between the Upland Gate (16th century) and the Golden Gate (17th century): the Prison Tower and Torture Chamber. In the Middle Ages the foregate was an important element of the fortifications securing the then existing (in place of the present Golden Gate) Long Street Gate. They began to build the foregate in 1360 – the crenellations appeared with a bridge over the moat, shooting ranges and the first storeys of the Prison Tower. In the following years, the fortifications were strengthened and extended, and the Tower gradually increased, reaching the present height at the beginning of the 16th century. The development of the foregate was stopped by the construction of modern city fortifications, which at the end of the 16th century caused the complex to lose its defensive significance and be used for new purposes: the city authorities decided to rebuild the complex for prison purposes. The works were directed by the great Gdańsk master, Anton van Obberghen (author of projects such as the Great Armory or Old Town Hall), who gave the buildings the character of the Dutch Renaissance. In the cells with zoonotic names (Hare, Fox, Pig, etc.) and various levels of severity, prisoners were detained, tortured and - those who were least fortunate - were decapitated in front of crowds, who also eagerly watched the public flogging.
The prison functioned until the mid-19th century. After it was closed, the Prison Tower and Torture Chamber served as military warehouses, the beginning of the forensic museum and the Red Cross emergency. After the destructions caused by the World War II, the complex was rebuilt in the 1940s and was soon transferred to the Historical Museum of the City of Gdańsk. Currently, it houses ... The Amber Museum.