The foundation of the first, probably wooden, Artus Manor dates back to the half of the 14th Century. It was an important centre of social and commercial life of old Gdańsk.
Buildings of such name were constructed in such Baltic cities as Toruń, Elbląg, Królewiec, Riga and Tallinn, as the headquarters of the “rifle” clubs, the patron of which was St. George. Attempting to mimic the courts, their members organised knightly games and activities, and great feasts in the imposing venues.
The gathered Gdańsk residents were accompanied by the imposing Gdańsk lions, bearing the city’s coat of arms, and a statue of Mercury – the guardian of trade, merchants and thieves. The facade was filled with medallions presenting the heads of Polish rulers, Sigismund III Vasa and his son, the later King Władysław IV, figures of ancient leaders, statues of Justice and Strength, and the shape of Fortune – the goddess of happiness, who was to favour the Gdańsk residents in their risky business and far voyages – at the very top.
The interior of Artus Manor is home to numerous works of art, which were provided by the local brotherhoods. They include valuable ship models, Polish national emblems, portrayals of Polish Kings and many others. However, the true crown jewel is the Renaissance furnace, which is the largest in Europe with a height of almost 11 metres. It is composed of 520 richly-decorated tiles, which present portraits of the great European rulers of the times, coats of arms, and personifications of virtues and planets. Next to it is the unique, gothic sculpture of St. George fighting the dragon from around 1485. The room is filled with richly-decorated tables with a wainscot; there are models of ships hanging from the beautiful, star-filled ceiling, while the walls present computer reconstructions of the paintings, which disappeared during World War II.
In 1742, Artus Manor began to serve as a crop market. Currently, it is the home of the Gdańsk Historical Museum and performs representative functions.
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