Iconic stained-glass windows make historic return to Gdańsk central station
Decorative stained-glass windows which formed an iconic part of the facade and interior of Gdańsk Central Station are being restored to their former glory in a historically significant restoration.
One of the windows, a huge art nouveau style design measuring 41.2 metres squared, has just returned to its position inside a half-rosette shape facing the platform.
The imposing window features symbolism connected to the railways. In the circular fields there is a ‘winged wheel’, a long held symbol associated with railway transport, which epitomizes power and speed, an impression emphasised further through the addition of heads representing the four elements: fire, air, earth and water.
The window also features the head of a queen depicting the railway as the Queen-of-all-transport who connects, brings closer, protects and provides safety.
Like all of the windows being restored, the window was created by a specialist artists’ workshop with the use of ‘cathedral glass’, in a variety of different colours, such as light, medium and dark shades of straw, green and red. In order to protect the delicate cathedral glass, a windshield will be built from the outside and a glass shield from the inside of the hall.
Further works on the mounting of the stained glass windows will begin again in the spring of 2021, when a second large scale window, will return to the station’s front elevation.
Equally rich in symbolism as the first window, this second window will depict the coat of arms of the city of Gdańsk with a lionheads, a King’s head as well as the personification of the four seasons which are meant to symbolise the strength and power of the city of Gdańsk, and its openness to visitors at all times of the year.
The rest of the window designs for the station’s side windows will be based on geometric patterns with floral motifs, placed in round fields.
Gdańsk Central Station celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2020. When it was first built at the beginning of the 1900s, iconic stained glass windows were incorporated into its design.
However the original windows were destroyed, probably as a result of bombing during WWII, leaving only remnants of the richly decorated stained glass windows which graced the station building before 1945.
The modernisation of Gdańsk’s Central Train station, which was begun in 2019 and will run until 2023, hopes to restore all the stained glass windows from the platform side, the front elevation and those on the longest sides of the station hall.
The inspiration for the restoration came from photos of the historic window. Whilst it won’t be possible to restore them in the exact same form as original designs didn’t survive, architects working on the restoration, have been relying on iconographic sources up to 1945.
Photographs were analysed with the help of computer-based technologies and the new design consulted with art historians and experts in stained glass.
The new designs put forward, combine historical elements with new ones inspired by the original. In half of the large circular fields of a rosette, there will be familiar motifs from Gdańsk’s public space and the finer details of the rosette will be carried out on the basis of Flemish designs of Cornelis Floris de Vriendt and other Flemish designers, who were popular among designers of public service buildings at the turn of the century.
Polish State Railways have now produced a video featuring conversations about the reconstruction process with Father Tomasz Janek, the initiator of the stained-glass windows project, and with craftsman Zbigniew Brzeziński, head of stained-glass workshop, Vitro, in Legnica.
This article was sponsored by PKP