Gorgeous illustrated album of Gdańsk provides fascinating look at city’s past
A unique historic album of hand drawn pictures of Gdańsk shows a glorious bygone depiction of how the city used to look - and in some cases how little it has changed.
The gorgeous book, known as the ‘Feyerabendów album’, is beautifully bound by a red cover and includes over 20 pictures on watermarked paper of Gdańsk and the surrounding area.
Among the scenes depicted in the album are the Gdańsk Long Market (Długi Targ), which looks remarkably similar in 2020 as to what was sketched in 1836, with the visible clock tower, fountain and adjacent buildings remaining this day.
Another picture shows the construction of a bridge leading to the Highland, or High, gate.
While the bridge has since been replaced the Highland gate has retained its majesty.
The gate is known for its distinctive masonry and remains a popular tourist attraction.
The skyline depiction from Biskupia Górka has become more crowded and while certain distinct outlines remain the area has undergone redevelopment and renovations.
The artist behind the beautiful illustrations was a man called Johann L. Boldt and was given as a gift on January 18th, 1836, to someone with the initials W.L.F.
Dr Janusz Dargacz from the Gdańsk Museum which has now put the collection on display said: “We only know his initials, WLF.
“If we stay in the family, it could have been Wilhelm Ludwig Feyerabend, Johann's cousin. It is possible that it was a souvenir for Wilhelm, who was leaving Gdańsk at that time.
“However, this character is still unrecognized by us, we will examine his fate. The album is a good excuse to look at the history of this family.”
Another illustration shows the Green Gate and Green Bridge which have also seen a lot of change over the years. There is still the distinctive stone archways but in the etching, the artist appears to have only included three instead of the four archways that currently exist.
It is thought to be the oldest water gate in Gdańsk and the first example of the Dutch ‘Mannerism’ style which gives the city its characteristic structural elegance.
There is also a view of the Vistula river from the fortress at Wisłoujście, another monument that remains intact in 2020.
The ships on the river have transformed but the cannon captured in the drawing still stand proudly protecting the waterfront.
The purchase of the album for the Gdańsk Museum was financed by the Amber Brewery from Bielkówka and donated on the 50th anniversary of the museum in March this year.
It is fitting that the brewery funded the purchase as the Feyerabend family ran a wine import business in the area.
The ‘Daniel Feyerabend’ company operated from 1747 until 1945 and despite being sold out of the family it retained his name until its closure.