The Bridge Gate, also known as the Bridge Tower, is one of the most original monuments of Warsaw’s Old Town. It was originally intended to control those crossing the Sigismund Augustus Bridge, which was the first permanent crossing over the Vistula in the capital. The monument has been rebuilt and extended several times and has served a variety of functions. Fortunately, it has managed to survive to our times and now houses the Old Powder House Theatre
The Late Gothic gate tower was erected in 1581-1582 by the foundation of Anna Jagiellonka on the abutment of the wooden bridge of Sigismund Augustus. It was a brick building on a rectangular plan, with a pointed crossing gate and loopholes. In 1603, due to the destruction of the bridge by a winding river, the building lost its original function and was used as a powder magazine
Photo: whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski
During the reign of King Stanisław August Poniatowski, a new powder magazine was built, and the old one was converted into a prison in 1767 and renamed the House of Punishment and Correction. The building was then extended in the classicist style. Subsequently, the rebuilt building was used for residential purposes. During the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, the tower was a bastion for the defence of the Old Town from the side of the Vistula River. The building was burnt down and severely damaged. The Bridge Gate, together with the prison building, was rebuilt in 1961-1965 according to its condition from the second half of the 18th century. The original appearance was restored, including the restoration of the Gothic gate arch in the eastern elevation. Between 2010 and 2012, the cellars of the building were renovated, incorporating them into the Cultural Route of the Old Town Cellars
The building in 1939 and today. Source: National Archives in Warsaw and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski
The building in 1945 and today. Source: Warsaw 1945 by Emilia Borecka & Leonard Sempoliński Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe Warszawa 1975 and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski
The Bridge Tower, as seen in 1954 and 2023. The older photo comes from the weekly Stolica no. 32 (1026) 06.08.1967 photo by W. Krzyżanowska, the newer one – whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski
View from the city walls of the tower in the 1950s and contemporary. Source: Museum of Warsaw and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski
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