Neptune's Fountain, apart from the obvious reference to ancient culture and the Roman god of the sea, was also inspired by the similar fountain in Bologna. The work of Giovanni da Bologna of Flanders, the Italian Renaissance artist, which was seen by the mayor of Gdansk, Bartholomäus Schachmann, during one of his journeys is considered to be the prototype for Neptune’s Well in Gdansk.
The original design of Gdansk's fountain, prepared at the beginning of the 17th century by Jakob Kordes of Lubeck, was not realized. The fountain’s base was made in the workshop of Abraham van den Blocke from stone which was imported from the Netherlands. Neptune’s statue was most probably designed by the Flemish Peter Husen. It is worth noting that the face of Gdansk’s Neptune resembles that of the Roman emperor–philosopher Marcus Aurelius, which is another reference to the spatially and temporally remote styles.
|Cultural activities of the Ukrainian community in Gdansk. Photo courtesy of Elżbieta Krzeminska’s collection|
No. 5, and subsequently no. 10, Dlugi Targ Street was the residence of the company owned by Richard Damme from Frankfurt/Oder– a banker and an shipowner, and for many years a city councillor and an honorary citizen.
At 8-10 Dlugi Targ Street was the seat the regional branch of The Ukrainian Socio-Cultural Association (established in 1950s) and also a branch of Belorussian Socio-Cultural Association (established in 1967).o.
The premises at 11 – 13 Długi Targ are the seat of The Theatrum Gedanense Foundation, the founders of “The Shakespearean Theatre” in Gdansk, cultivating the tradition of performances of Shakespeare’s plays in Gdansk by English actors, which were already being presented during the lifetime of the Stratford playwright and poet.
The façade of the house at 12 Długi Targ, designed after the war, is decorated with the portraits of famous artists (Dante, Kochanowski, Shakespeare, Bramante, Raphael and Donatello) created by Czesław Rzepiński, a painter born in Trembowla.
|A poster of the International Shakespeare Festival held in Gdansk since 1997 by Foundation Theatrum Gedanense|
No. 17 once belonged to a truly multinational Almonde family. Before it adopted its baroque style, in 1504 it hosted the wife of king Alexander Jagiello, Helena, the daughter of the Duke of Moscow and the only Polish queen of Orthodox Catholic denomination.
The houses at 33 and 34 Długi Targ, attached together, constitute “The Dutch House”. The opening ceremony of the house, which is a reminder of the long-term relations between Gdansk and the Netherlands took place in 1997, in the presence of Queen Beatrix. The facades were shaped in the manner typical of historical Dutch architecture but at the same time not much different from the styles popular in Gdansk. The only difference is in the gables, which were marked with small cranes or pulleys, an ‘obligatory’ element on the façade of every house in the old centres of Dutch cities.
The first Jewish-owned bank in Gdansk was located at 38 Długi Targ between 1898 and 1927. It belonged to two partners: Albert Meyer, a lawyer, a city councillor and the consul of Spain and Albert Gelhorn, a banker.
The house of Caspar Göbel at no. 39 built by Hans Kramer of Dresden was the seat of The Pharmacy Council, where the post of the pharmacist was held by Johannes Brettschneider (Placotomus), of Münnerstadt in Franconia, followed by Andreas Peltzer of Elbing.
One of the greatest and the richest in style houses at the beginning of the 17th century, at 41 Długi Targ, belonged to the mayor of Gdansk, the merchant Johann Speymann. The façade of the building, called ‘The Golden House’ was designed at the mayor’s request in the workshop of the Flemish artist Abraham van den Blocke and it evokes the best decorative motifs of the Italian Renaissance. The carved decorations were made by Abraham van den Blocke's employee, the sculptor Hans Voigt of Rostock.
Among the numerous scenes and characters depicted in the brilliantly ornamented façade we can recognize many historical figures from all over the world. The Greeks: Achilles – the hero of the Trojan war, Cleopatra (an Egyptian of Greek origin) - the queen of Egypt, Antigone and Oedipus – characters from the Greek mythology, Solon – the Athenian statesman and lawmaker, and Themistocles – the commander who protected Greece from the Persians; the Romans: Regulus and both Scipios – Roman heroes of the Carthaginian wars, Fabricius and Mucius Scevola – the exemplary Roman citizens, both Catos – famous orators and defenders of the republic, Brutus – Caesar’s assassin – the enemy of tyranny, the Horatii and their opponents the Curiatti – the heroes of tales of the Alba Longa war, Camillus – "the father of the nation" – victorious protector of Rome from the Gauls, and Cocles – the legendary hero of the Etruscan war period; German emperors Henry III and Otton III. Apart from the ancient heroes on the façade of Speymann’s house we can see the Polish king (although of Lithuanian descent) Vladyslav Jagiello, Lorenzo de’ Medici of Florence – promoter of the Italian Renaissance, another Polish king, the half-Swedish Sigismund Vaza the 3rd , the Jewish king Judah Maccabeaus, Skanderbeg the Albanian and the Hungarian Janos Hunyady - heroes of the war against the Turks.
This accumulation of historical and mythological references as well as the symbolic presence of important figures in the history of Europe, who represented the values so treasured by Speymann, proves the broad cultural awareness of the city’s elite of the so called “Golden Age”.
The building adjacent to Artus Court, The New Bench House, is the seat of the criminal court, The Main City Bench. “The Hall of Gdansk” was established there in 1901 and houses a permanent exhibition of works of art and historic craftwork donated to the city by Lesser Gieldzinski - a Jewish merchant and an art collector.
Hugo Wilhelm Conwentz (1855-1922). Photo from: „Hugo Conwentz und seine Heimat. Ein BuchderErinnerungen von Margarete Boie” Stuttgart, 1940. From a library of the Archeological Museum in Gdansk.
The Green Gate, at the end of Dlugi Targ Street on the Motlawa river side, was built in the 16th century in place of the former Cog Gate. It combines several references to foreign styles and foreign visitors’ influences brought to Gdansk. The splendid example of Dutch mannerism was to function both as a gate and as a royal palace. Gdansk for a long time then was supposed to have fulfilled its obligation to the king to provide him with a suitable royal place of residence. The public facility building (the gate with the rooms for one of the City Scales) was created with the upper floors designated as the lodging available to the king and his courtiers during their visits to Gdansk. No king had ever used the ‘palace’, though. The only royal visitor to the gate building was Ludwika Maria Gonzaga - the princess of Mantua, wife of two Polish kings: Vladyslav the 4th and John Casimir. She spent several days in Gdansk on her journey from France to Poland.
It is not certain who designed and constructed the gate. The assumptions made by architectural historians point most frequently to Hans Kramer, the architect of Dresden in Saxony. After the Cog Bridge had been dismantled, the Green Bridge, leading from the Green Gate to Granary Island, was constructed in its original version between 1562 and 1564 by Dirk Daniels, a carpenter from Zealand, the province in the Netherlands.
Another name which is connected with the Green Gate is that of Hugo Conwentz - a distinguished biologist and archaeologist and the first director of the Western Prussian Museum, which was located in the building of the gate. He was not only a scientist, but also a forerunner of ecology and environmental protection. He conceived the term ‘nature monument’ and also did research on the history of amber. A part of his amber collection is now incorporated into the exhibition in the Archaeological Museum, entitled “With amber through the millennia”. He also initiated the establishment of the nature park at the estuary of the Vistula river, which is currently the “Seagull Shoal” ornithological reserve.
Before the Green Gate was built, the former Cog Gate also had functioned as the city’s armoury. Among the many items in its inventory were 68 Scottish halberds.