On the Path of the Gatestops

Dwarves, Gatestops, Twists and Turns

The gate stops which are today mainly perceived as architectural details of gates, in the past existed not only to decorate them, but also had a practical use. 

Depending on the period, the width of gates was a minimum of 182 cm (19th Century) or 3m (early 20th Century.)  This was to do with fire regulations and allowing access for the fire service to the interior of the tenement houseblock or to its courtyard. The gates tops mounted on the sides of the gate protected the walls from damage from wheel hubs, or even from overly large vehicles getting stuck.

The gate stops were made of cast iron, but one can also find examples made of fieldstone, such as that at Środkowa Street 18.  They vary not only in form, but also in height and weight.  Some of them have a simplified appearance, such as for instance those at Ząbkowska Street 3, reminiscent of undecorated wedges.  In Praga North, the most common ones are console or cupola-shaped.  The former look like burly cupolas with a decorative body and a knob-like summit, the latter are supported by a rectangular base and decorative plant motifs- acanthus leaf in the upper section and flagella in the side sections.

Sometimes, door stops in the form of dwarves can be seen.  One such door stop is unique, since it looks like the dwarves which decorate gate stops in Łódź.  It can be found on the grounds of the Wedel Factory on Zamoyski Street 28/30 in Kamionek (Praga South.)  Such ‘guards’ at gate stops can also be found at Ząbkowska Street 28 and Wileńska Street 19 in Praga South.  On the shields held by the dwarves, one can often find the date of the casting of the iron, often confounded with the date when the tenement houseblock was built.

It is interesting to note that, despite the fact that, in the 1930s, gate stops were no longer used, they can be found at the tenement houseblock at Zamoyski Street 43 in Kamionek, a building constructed in this period.

The systemisation of the gate stops was undertaken by Professor Jadwiga Roguska from the Warsaw Polytechnic, whereas they were documented by Krzysztof Jaszczyński, the co-creator of the portal ‘Warsaw 1939’ and of the Park of Miniatures.

Despite the fact that these architectural details decorate the gates of many tenement houseblocks, post-industrial buildings and buildings of public use in Praga North and Praga South, they are often disassembled during renovation work or stolen by criminals.


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ul. Środkowa 18, Ząbkowskia 3 i 28, Wieleńskia 19, Zamyskiego 28