Gdańsk Crane

sights / Other

Gdańsk Crane information

Gdańsk , Poland
Address
Street ul Szeroka 67/68
Prices
adult/concession 8/5zł
Opening hours
10am-4pm Tue-Sun
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Lonely Planet review

Just beyond the modest Gate of the Holy Spirit (Brama Św Ducha) on the waterfront rises the oh-so conspicuous Gdańsk Crane. Built in the mid-15th century as the biggest double-towered gate on the waterfront, it also served to shift heavy cargoes directly onto or off vessels docked at the quay. For this purpose two giant wheels – 5m in diameter – were installed as a hoist with a rope wound around the axle; the whole contraption was set in motion by people ‘walking’ along the inner circumference like mice in a wheel. Incredibly, this people-power could hoist loads of up to 2000kg, making it the largest crane in medieval Europe. Early-17th-century wheels were added higher up for installing masts.

Blasted to pieces in 1945, everything was carefully pieced back together in the postwar decades, making it the only fully restored relic of its kind in the world. Inside you’ll find exhibits relating to the history of shipping, plus a collection of shells, corals and other marine life; English notes are available on laminated sheets. You can also climb up into the section overlooking the water and have a closer look at the hoisting gear (but sadly not a go on the wheel).