The Royal Route

It could take up to eight hours for the royal retinues with several thousands of participants to go through the Royal Route. The royal entourage entered the Royal Route through the High Gate, located next to the western part of the Long (Długa) Street Barbican and, further on, the Torture Chamber. There the city representatives welcomed the Polish kings who arrived there.

Going next to the Court of St. George Brotherhood, with the sound of bells and the chanting of the clergy, the kings would pass through the Long Street Gate applauded by the people. Behind the gate the crowd occupied the Long Street, where only the richest residents of Gdańsk had their houses.

The Royal retinues often stopped for longer periods to watch tightrope walkers and street acrobats and to listen to musicians, hear the mayor’s speech or watch the knight’s fights. They could enjoy the views of rich houses at the Long Street, where the influential Gdańsk families resided. To this day particular attention is attracted by Uphagens’ house, Ferbers’ House, Schumanns’ House and the Lion’s Castle. In the last one the meetings of representatives of culture, science were held hosting also the kings of Poland.

At the end of the Street they stopped at the Town Hall, the seat of Gdańsk authorities. This is where the king’s quarters were prepared and where the most important issues of the city were discussed. Just behind the town hall there was the Long Market (Długi Targ), for many centuries the crowded centre of urban life. Here trade flourished, the crops market operated, contests took place and the kings received oaths.

The kings visiting Gdańsk very often chose accommodation in the houses by the Long Market, admiring their beauty and location. This was the reason why the first four houses at Długi Targ were referred to as the royal houses.

From the windows of these houses the kings could admire the Artus Court, one of the greatest buildings of its kind in northern Europe. Here the wealthy patricians met and it was the centre of social and commercial life. The Neptune’s fountain also fits in extremely well with the place as a symbol of the city’s alliance with the sea.

Next to the Artus Court the guests are impressed by the neighbouring houses located on the same side of the market. The Golden House, seems especially outstanding and is referred to as the most beautiful building in Gdańsk. Next to it, at number 43, the New House of the Court was located, a.k.a. Gdańsk Vestibule (Sień Gdańska) which held the local criminal court for almost 100 years.

Despite the fact that the Kings admired the houses by the Long Market and they loved to stay there, Gdańsk’s residents committed themselves to the construction of an official royal residence. Hence the Green Gate was constructed, replacing the Cog Gate from the 14th century. In the end however, the official kings’ residence never fulfilled its role. Only once, in 1646, Maria Ludwika Gonzaga, stayed there on her way from France to the wedding with Władysław IV Vasa.

Today most of the tourists end their trip down the Royal Route just behind the Green Gate. Several hundred years ago the royal retinues used to go further towards Żuławy Gate and the Long Garden (Długie Ogrody) where the servants and soldiers accompanying the King could rest.

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