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  • 1 Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw
  • 2 History of Art Dept., University of Gdansk, Gdansk
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Abstract

The architectural heritage and the mode of its analysis and interpretation, specially in the perspective of national and regional question, can and often becomes the issue prone to manipulation. The attempts to define national and regional identity by means of cultural legacy have been accompanying the research into art and also the creation of modern architecture in the spirit of national Historicism already since the 19th century. The architecture of Gdansk has for years been the subject of a heated debate of both German and Polish architects, historians of architecture, and conservators. In the recent years also politicians have joined in the debate, and so have writers. The paper analyses the issue of the relation of architectural forms and rhetorical formulas, namely the combination of architecture and specific contents treated as signs of local identity, as well as changeability and interpretational flexibility of those issues with regard to the needs of political circumstances (idioms versus interpretational variants, stereotypes, research myths, likings versus scholarly idiosyncrasies). Special attention will be paid to the Gdansk architecture of the 2nd half of the 19th century and its contemporary and later interpretations in the perspective of regional and national identification.

  • 1. Let me just remind you the very basic historical facts which have given the shape to the city. The settlement recorded for the first time in 997 developed as the capital of a Slav Pomeranian Duchy, and around mid-13th century it was given town privileges. Captured by the Teutonic Order in 1308, in 1361 Gdansk was incorporated into the activity of the Hanseatic League. In 1466, after the 13-years’ War Gdansk separated from the Teutonic state and incorporated into the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth gaining, however, an exceptional and very privileged position. After the second 1793 partition of Poland, Gdansk was incorporated into Prussia, and in 1920 in compliance with the Versaille Treaty it gained the status of a Free City under the protectorate of the League of Nations.

  • 2. I do not mention here earlier publications of topographic-descriptive character prepared mainly among the Gdansk circle.

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  • 13. Kruszyński, Tadeusz: Przewodnik po Gdańsku i okolicy (A Guide to Gdansk and its Environs), Warszawa 1914, p. 11.

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  • 18. Friedrich, Jacek: Główne założenia odbudowy historycznego Gdańska (Main Assumptions of the Reconstruction of Historical Gdansk), in: Kunstgeschichte und Denkmalpflege. IV. Tagung des Arbeitskreises deutscher und polnischer Kunsthistoriker und Denkmalpfleger. Toruń 2.–6. Oktober 1997, ed. Woźniak Michał, Toruń 2002, pp. 213222; idem: Kontinuität und Innovation beim Wiederaufbau Danzigs, in: Architektur und Städtebau im Südlichen Ostseeraum zwischen 1936 und 1980, ed. B. Lichtnau, Berlin 2002, pp. 169174.

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  • 19. Friedrich, Jacek: Wystrój dekoracyjny Drogi Królewskiej w Gdańsku w latach 1953–1955 (Decoration Elements of the Royal Route in Gdansk in 1953–1955), Gdańskie Studia Muzealne (Gdansk Museum Studies), 6 (1995) [2000], pp. 111133.

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  • 20. Friedrich, Jacek: Problem “gdańskości” w architektonicznych upodobaniach współczesnych gdańszczan (The Issue of the “Gdansk Character” in the Architectural Predilections of Contemporary Gdansk Residents), in: Gust gdański. Materiały z sympozjum 23–24 października 2002 (Gdansk Taste. Materials from the Conference October 23–24, 2002), ed. Bronisław Dejna and Jakub Szczepański, Gdańsk 2004, pp. 8298.

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