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Zhurav

The crane (that is, the “crane”) above Motlava, undoubtedly, “makes” a view of Gdansk from the river. His appearance is extremely characteristic and recognizable. Not a single photograph of the river panorama could do without his slightly strange profile, reminiscent of either a figure from Tetris that got up “on the ass”, or a birdhouse for a heron.

The crane was built in the Middle Ages just as a crane. Life in the old port of Gdansk then was in full swing, and the cargo turnover was serious. In place of the original mechanism of about 1360s, in its current form, Zhurav grew in the 40s of the 15th century. In 1442, it burned down and was restored in the next two years. The crane became the largest crane in Europe, which remains to this day, and was able to lift the weight to 11 tons to a height of 11 meters, with its help they placed masts on ships. The crane belonged to the city and was run by a special crane master. Meanwhile, even then Zhurav was not as simple as it seems: below there were river gates for small vessels, on the sides of the crane strong and squat brick defensive towers with guns were installed. In which case, Zhurav could repulse the attack.

It is not so easy for a modern person to put this in his head, but this whole colossus was set in motion, so to speak, by a foot drive.
In 1858, the last crane master died, and a shoe shop, a hairdressing salon, and other institutions moved to the towers. During the Second World War, the wooden structure of the crane burned down completely, and 60% of the brickwork was destroyed. Its reconstruction began in 1956, and in 1962 Zhurav was transferred to the beginning of the Maritime Museum.

In the dark, Zhurav’s contours are emphasized by a bright LED backlight.

Near Zhurav there are the most “tourist” restaurants and cafes of the city, chosen by guests from Western Europe. The food in them is no tastier than in all the others. And also on the same promenade, a couple of steps from the crane, amber jewelry stores are collected a level higher than ordinary city shops. Naturally, they are more expensive; but here you can find unusual gizmos – of an interesting design or, for example, with the rarest blue amber of the color of transparent marengo.

Going under the crane and looking at the visible part of the mechanism from the bottom up, you can see the same hemp fiber rope the thickness of a foot, a block system and wooden winches. It is not so easy for a modern person to put this in his head, but this whole colossus was set in motion, so to speak, by a foot drive. That is, port workers who leaned on the handle, moving around the gates.

Today Zhurav is part of the exposition of the Central Maritime Museum, which occupies storage buildings of about the same time, built just opposite, across the river, on the island of Olovyanka. And not so long ago, the Marine Culture Center was opened near Zhurav, the first and so far the only one in the country and the most modern even by world standards. A multimedia multi-purpose exposition with 60 stands has been organized here, giving interactive access to extensive information from the field of marine archeology, shipbuilding, technology and navigation.
An exhibition is open inside Zhurav, telling about the work of the crane and the port people as a whole: dockers, movers, merchants, tacklers. You can climb a narrow wooden staircase to the upper platform at a height of 27 meters above the ground and admire the place of hard labor of workers inside and the Olovyanka River and yachts in the harbor – outside.

Near Zhurav there are the most “tourist” restaurants and cafes of the city, chosen by guests from Western Europe. The food in them is no tastier than in all the others. And also on the same promenade, a couple of steps from the crane, amber jewelry stores are collected a level higher than ordinary city shops. Naturally, they are more expensive; but here you can find unusual gizmos – of an interesting design or, for example, with the rarest blue amber of the color of transparent marengo.

Looking at the Crane outside and inside, it will be very nice to visit the Maritime Museum itself – one of the best on the continent. It is very interesting to see medieval navigational instruments and equipment, models of port workshops and interiors of living rooms and offices of that time. The pearl of the collection is the remains of the ship of the Iliad, which sank near the Turkish coast.

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