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In the mill...

Traces of Gothic architecture and art are easy to find in Gdansk churches, but what about other places?

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In the mill... (1/1)
 The Great Mill
The Great Mill
Gdansk Tourism Organization

After the Teutons had established themselves in Gdansk in the early 14th century, they almost immediately launched many construction projects. A wall here, a Main Town church there, and a city mill for good measure... The latter was, of course, enormous – large enough to match the rising ambitions and the needs of the developing city. However, to satisfy these needs and aspirations, it had to operate without any hindrances, and so it required access to water.

In Malbork castle, which was two days away by carriage, or one day away when travelling on horseback, a channel had been dug to convey water. The same solution had to be applied in Gdansk. The Motlawa would not do, as the river already had a port built on it (this is a simplification). Therefore, it was necessary to “find” another source of water... And so, more than 3 miles (approx. 12 km – 1 Prussian mile = 3766 m – value from the mid-15th century) south of Gdansk, in a bend of the Radunia (near Pruszcz), construction began of a channel which was to deliver water to Gdansk. Nowadays, it is known as the Radunia Channel.

Its purpose was not only to power the mill. It was also supposed to convey drinking water, fill the moats and serve as a place to dispose of refuse.

In the Old Town, near St Catherine church, an island called the Shield was built at the channel’s fork. On that tiny island, a giant industrial plant was constructed – the Great Mill. Its several-stories-tall attic served as a grain and flour warehouse. Initially, the mill had 12 wheels powered by the water flowing through the forked channel – that number eventually increased to 19. In the mid-15th century, as many as 22 people worked there. The primary purpose for the Great Mill was to mill rye and wheat, as well as malting oats and barley. Its services were used by both bakers and brewers from the Old and the Main Town. It is worth noting that the Mill’s throughput was 7000 last, or 15,505 tonnes (1 last = 2215 kg).

It is something worth keeping in mind when on the lookout for Gothic architecture near the Great Mill.