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Reiterkaserne

150 years of transformations

Learn the history of the building: today the Musicians’ Home, originally Prussian barracks.

The building of the contemporary Dom Muzyka Hotel [Musicians’ Home] was originally erected as Prussian military barracks in 1863-1873. 

Dom Muzyka is located on the verge of two historically separate quarters of Gdańsk – the district stretching along Długie Ogrody Street, once an impressive artery lined with palace-style villas and parks, and the Lower City proper, a workers’ district dotted with manufacturing facilities and military sites.  The borderline ran along the Podwale Przedmiejskie Street of today.

Our site used to be called the ‘Reiterkaserne’, which literally translates to ‘cavalry barracks’.

Yet, the ‘Reiterkaserne’ name was misleading.  Actually, the cavalry was never stationed there.  The formation which operated the building longest was the then renowned 128. „Gdańsk” infantry regiment manned primarily by recruits from the city and its vicinities.

The ‘Reiterkaserne’ name actually comes from Reitergasse, the side lane at which the barracks were erected (the lane has not survived to date, but the contemporary Podwale Przedmiejskie Street follows its course).  The name of the lane, in turn, came from the city stables once located in the area.

The completion of the construction works on the barracks corresponded in time with another project – a new road called Weidengasse (Łąkowa Street today) was set out to link Długie Ogrody Street with the Lower City.  Soon afterwards (in 1881), the Royal Junior High School was handed over for use.  The edifice today (referred to as the ‘red building’) is occupied by the Academy of Music in Gdańsk.

The Prussian army kept the barracks in continuous operation until the year 1920.  The situation changed only in the pre-war times.  The Free City of Gdańsk formed by virtue of the Treaty of Versailles, was to be demilitarised.

In the nineteen twenties and thirties the former barracks were redeveloped to play the residential function appended with office space occupied by several private companies, the premises of a Gdańsk police station, and a Polish school.

The new status quo also moulded the history of the nearby industrial facilities which used to specialise in military production. Soon, thanks to a number of incentive instruments offered private owners stepped in arranging workshops and factories on their estates.  To name an interesting detail, in 1929 the former artillery workshops were transformed into an American car assembly line manufacturing the then popular models: Hudsons and Essexes.

During the Second World War the military, this time the German army, recaptured the building.  The barracks housed e.g. the command of the special Gdańsk Garrison battalion.

The barracks luckily survived the war.  As of 1945, they were taken over by the Polish troops, e.g. the 13. Kashubian Brigade of the Internal Security Corps.  The building of the nearby ex-school, i.e. the earlier mentioned Royal Junior High, was also adapted to serve military purposes.

Noteworthy, the Musicians’ Home provided the setting for Andrzej Wajda’s 1970 film: ‘Landscape after Battle [Krajobraz po bitwie].  The main characters were played by Daniel Olbrychski and Stanisława Celińska. 

Unfortunately, towards the close of the 20. century the barracks at Łąkowa Street began to fall into ruin.  The army started looking for an investor able to take over the historic buildings and inject new functions to the site.

In those days, the Academy of Music in Gdańsk occupied three separate premises in Gdańsk and Sopot.

In December 1995 the army donated two devastated buildings on the estate measuring half a hectare to the Academy of Music for a symbolic one zloty coin.

The school authorities resolved to develop the site into a true campus.  Adaptation works to alter the designation of the structures first began on the former junior high school building (the so-called red building) – the school administration department and the Faculty of Instruments moved in as of the academic year of 1998/1999.

The first function located in the barracks (the yellow building) was the students’ boarding house.  In the autumn of 2001, after a large scale investment effort all other faculties of the academy were relocated to the new premises.

In the late 2003, the ex-barracks gained yet another function with the Dom Muzyka hotel opened on site.  The decrepit building was revamped thoroughly showing off the beauty of the yellow brick, a material extremely rare in architecture.  The unique climate of the site is highlighted by arched vaults, tall ceilings, large arched windows, and timber ceiling beams. 

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