King Arthur and his court: Artus Court (Artushof)
The name is derived from the popular medieval King Arthur. Arthur was the symbol of courage and chivalry. His name was given to these houses where the nobility and the bourgeoisie used to meet. The idea was to talk about important issues in the true spirit of King Arthur and his round table: in equality and with mutual respect.
Social meeting place
Scattered over Poland there were several Artus Courts. Powerful foreign merchants’ guilds or the ship owner’s trade relations (e.g. the Netherlands) owned these Courts and met there. The Court was a meeting place for Polish trading delegations and their business partners. In the evenings it became the center of exclusive wealthy social life.
Did you know about the Artus Court?
- Merchants had to pay beverages in advance.
- Theoretically business could only be done in the yard in front of the court.
- There was entertainment in the evening: dancing, singing, acrobacy, …
- Gambling (even though forbidden) took place.
- Banquets were organized.
In the 17th century also librarians and painters appeared in the Court. Librarians presented books printed in Gdańsk and painters presented their artworks.
The Artus Court has a long history. Abraham van den Blocke refurbished it together with the Neptune’s Fountain Statue in the style of Dutch Mannerism in 1617. Abraham decorated the Artus Court’s building with Roman and Greek antique heroes e.g. Scipio Africanus, Themistocles, … and the bust of the Polish King Sigismund III Vasa and his son.
Branch of the National Museum of Gdańsk
Seriously damaged in 1945, it was rebuilt after the war. In 1967 the building became a monument. Today it is a branch of the National History Museum of Gdańsk. When visiting it, you will be overwhelmed by the splendor of the Gothic Hall, the friezes of mythological figures, antique furniture, masterpieces of paintings, tapestries, ship models, armours, coats of arms. It truly is a flashback in time.