St Gertrude Bastion and the western fortifications of Gdańsk¶
St Gertrude Bastion is located in the close vicinity of Embankment Square.
At the beginning of the 17th century 14 bastions were constructed in Gdańsk.
Some bastions have survived to the present: St Gertrude, Buffalo, Wolf, Ledge, Bear, Rabbit and Garden (św. Gertrudy, Żubr, Wilk, Wyskok, Miś, Królik and Ogrodowy).
The bastions used to accommodate artillery positions, gunpowder warehouses, artillery carriage stores and they were also observation points.
Ammunition depots were usually located in the casemates (vaults sheltered by earth layers).
Apart from the bastions, there were also additional obstacles provided to prevent the enemy from attacking the city: two moats and dense and prickly hawthorn bushes planted along the banks.
St Gertrude Bastion is located in the area of the Old Suburb. This bastion forms the southern edge of the western fortification line. The bastion owes its name to the nearby St Gertrude Hospital, which was once located in its close vicinity.
During the Second World War, St Gertrude Bastion was used as an air-raid shelter for people and after the war it was converted into a storage facility for UNIMOR and DAGOMA companies.
At present, the area of the bastions has become of recreational nature. There are numerous walking paths and bicycle lanes. The bastions are marvellous vantage points, from where great views can be admired and wildfowl feeding in the water of the Motława Arm can be observed.
The bastions used to have their common names. St Gertrude Bastion was often referred to as “Seven” because of the close vicinity of Primary School no. 7. The Buffalo Bastion used to be called “the Spiral” because of its spiral paths leading to the top.
Children used to play a lot in the area of the bastions: Indians and cowboys, treasure hunts, scenes inspired by popular movies or films, such as Pan Samochodzik (Mister Automobile), Winnetou, etc.
The bastion area used to be divided into specific “territories” – if one bunch of children occupied the territory of the Buffalo Bastion, the other bunch used to play around St Gertrude Bastion.
In winter the bastions were perfect places for sledging, the frozen waters of the moats were transformed into ice skating and hockey rinks.
Young people used to penetrate the underground tunnels of St Gertrude Bastion. The tunnels allegedly ended as far as Biskupia Górka (the Bishop’s Hill)