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Sightseeing the Main City of Gdansk

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The centrepieces of Gdansk are mainly located in the Main City where such historical monuments as the City Hall, St. Mary's Church and Artus Court can be seen. The City Hall and Artus Court are considered to be the most significant lay buildings of the Main City. Both are situated along the Long Market (Dlugi Targ) which alongside with Dluga Street (Ulica Dluga) are ranked among the most beautiful streets of Gdansk. They are lined with beautifully decorated gabled houses typical of old Gdansk. Their facades are narrow and rich in artistic adornments such as coats of arms, animals, ancient characters, etc. Each of the houses, once homes to the wealthy patriciate of Gdansk, has its own history. Of all the facades, seeing the one of the Golden House (Zlota Kamienica) is a must on the tour of the Main City. It is one of the most beautiful buildings of the city. The house was designed by Abraham van den Blocke, who also made some of its sculptural decorations.Though almost completely levelled in 1945, the Golden House facade was renovated. Nowadays it houses the Maritime Institute.  

Neptune Fountain GdanskArtus Court (Dwor Artusa) - with the Neptune Fountain in the foreground - restored as a highlight of the Gdansk Millennium festivities in 1997 attracts tourists visting Gdansk. Named after the Celtic king Arthur, Artus Court used to serve as a meeting place for brotherhoods of rich patricians who persued the ambition to implement the round table knightly ethos in their lives. Such buildings were typical of all the hanseatic cities. However, Artus Court is its sole example which has survived till the present day. In its present shape, Artus Court was built in the late Gothic style in 1477.The interior is rich in sculptures, paintings and ship models. What catches the eye, however, is the tiled stove, made of over 500 tiles, originating from 1546 adorned with coats of arms, personifications of merits and kings of those times. Almost 11 meters tall, it is the tallest stove erected in the Renaissance period. In Artus Court there is also a pewter surface which is regarded as the oldest Polish table.

The Main Town Hall (Ratusz Glownego Miasta), once a seat of the city authorities, nowadays houses the Musem of the History of Gdansk. Erected in the 14th century, the edifice is mostly famed for its Grand Hall which is considered to be one of the most outstanding interiors typical of Mannerism in this part of Europe. The room is also known as the Red Chamber named so due to the colour of its wall furnishings. The elaborate 17th-century portal, the ceiling paintings (e.g. ''The Tower of Babel'' by Izaak van den Blocke) and furniture (e.g. a 16th-century Flemish fireplace) demonstrate high artistic merit. The centrepiece of the Red Chamber is the ceiling ornamented with ''The Apotheosis of Gdansk'' painting surrounded by twenty-five allegorical paintings made by Isaac van den Blocke. Although the Town Hall was almost completely destroyed during World War II, thanks to the painstaking restoration works, it can be admired in its full splendour nowadays.

The further north part of the Main City also attracts tourists with a wide array of historical monuments. Among the major ones are St. Mary's Church and the Great Armoury – a masterpiece of Mannerism. Moreover, this part of Gdansk is noted for St. Mary's Street (Mariacka Street) which claims to be the most beautiful street of the whole city.

The Great Armoury (Wielka Zbrojownia) erected in 1600-1609 is regarded as the best example of the Dutch Mannerism in the architecture of Gdansk. Until the 1800s the building served as an arsenal. Nowadays the Great Armoury houses a shopping precinct and the Fine Arts Academy.

In this part of the city the skyline is dominated by the 82-metre tall bell tower of St. Mary's Church (Kosciol Mariacki) or properly, the Basilica of the Assumption of the Most Holy Virgin Mary. With the capacity of 25,000 people and over 100-metre length, the church is famed as the largest medieval shrine built of brick in Europe. Its construction lasted for over 150 years. During World War II the church was seriously damaged, however, restored to its former beauty in the 1980s St. Mary's Church is an unrivalled masterpiece of art. In the interior of St. Mary's Church the following works of art are worth paying attention to:
  • the Main Altar, dating back to as far as 1510-1517, made by Michael of Augsburg. It depicts God the Father, Mary and Christ sitting together on three incredible thrones
  • the astronomical clock, dating back to the years 1464-1470, with the dials showing, apart from the time and date, the phases of the moon, the calendar of the saints and the position of the sun and the moon in relation to the signs of the Zodiac
  • the sculpture of Holy Mother of God, dating from 1420, made by an uknown sculptor.

The Church is worth visiting not only from the architectural point of view. The other reason is that the tower is one of the city's vantage points from which one can enjoy a panoramic view of Gdansk from the shipyards to the surrounding plains.

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