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Żuraw Gdański, Motława, Miasto Gdańsk
Gdansk Crane 1920

Gdansk Crane

Gdansk Crane (Żuraw Gdanski) Żuraw or the crane is one of the oldest water gates of Gdansk. It closes at Szeroka Street (ul. Szeroka) from the Motława side. It was designed at the same time as a town harbour and port crane. It was intended to perform defensive functions for this. It caused a dispute with the Teutonic Knights who did not want to see other fortified buildings near their castle. Eventually, the gate-crane-fortress stood opposite the convent in 1444 after only two years from the beginning of construction. How massive the construction is, the numbers prove best – originally the building was 28 meters high (currently 30) and 10 meters wide, and the thickness of the walls reached 4 meters in the basement of the towers! The defensive nature of the gantry crane is also indicated by a small number of windows and shooting holes for firing from heavy (bottom) and light weapons (at the top). The wooden construction characteristic for this building, protruding in the direction of the Long Embankment or Długie Pobrzeże, or bay window, is a cover of lifting devices, consisting of two pairs of hoisting wheels, the largest of which is 6.5 meters in diameter. They were used to reload a load of up to 2 tonnes and for setting sail on standing ships. The Gdansk Crane was the largest port crane in Europe in the Middle Ages.

Gdansk Crane
Gdansk Crane 1874

The military importance of the Crane decreased at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and in the nineteenth century it served only auxiliary functions as port equipment – it served for some time to lift the stern of the ships during their maintenance. The building was adapted for housing purposes. It was destroyed as a result of the war. The wooden bay window burned down and most of the walls were blown up. It was rebuilt in the 1950s, making reference to the appearance known from the illustration from 1601. Currently, there is a branch of the National Maritime Museum here. The crane mechanism is available for visiting.

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