Gdansk is the Polish maritime capital with a population nearing half a million. It is a large centre of economic life, science, culture, and a popular tourist destination. Located on the Bay of Gdansk and the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, the city is a thousand years old. With its Hanseatic tradition, it has played a major role in the commercial relationships between Northern and Western Europe, as well as Central and Eastern Europe.
Take a stroll along the main thoroughfare, Dluga Street, stop at the Neptune fountain, the symbol of Gdansk, or take a boat tour to explore the bay of Gdansk.
Gdansk old city and "Dluga" street
Walk along the banks of the Motlawa river to find charming seafood restaurants, amber and crystal vendors, shops carrying nautical wares, floating cafes, the maritime museum, and historic sea-faring vessels.
Called either the High Gate or the Upland Gate, this silvery-gray brick facade markes the beginning of Gdansk's so-called Royal Route, through which the king would pass on his visits to the city. This 16th century gate was originally a part of Gdansk's defensive system, but it now stands as an isolated structure. The bricks are unusual in that they bear a leaf-like pattern, and overhead, you'll see the crests of Gdansk, Poland, and Prussa.
Long Street is called "Dluga" on Polish-language maps, and this is where you will see the bulk of Gdansk's Main Town sights. Long Street is the cultural and historical heart of Main Town, where you will find many museums, works of architecture, cafes, shops, and photo opportunities.
Monument to Fallen Shipyard Workers
The northern edge of Gdansk's Old Town is known for having made history as recently as the last century. The Gdansk Shipyards, formerly the Lenin Shipyards, was the location of a workers' uprising. Solidarnosc, or Solidarity, was the name chosen for the trade union formed by shipyard workers in Gdansk during the 1970s, which finally won governmental recognition despite severe persecution of its members. The workers' struggle is commemorated with a gigantic monument, as well as with smaller plaques placed around the courtyard outside the shipyard gates.
This Holy Trinity, Blessed Virgin Mary, and St Bernard's Church was first erected as a Cistercian shrine back in the 13th century. Reconstructed in 1350 after a great fire, it re-emerged in the Gothic style, but many of the new fixtures were to be relatively short lived. The Gothic interior was extremely damaged in a 1577 fire and was replaced with the Baroque fixtures we admire today for their beauty and intensity. Structurally, the cathedral is a triple-aisle, vaulted basilica built on the plan of the Latin cross. The Oliwa Cathedral is perhaps best known for its massive, yet splendid organ. The organ is comprised of over 7,000 pipes and is decorated with movable angels and brightly painted stars. When built, the instrument was the largest in Europe. The main alter is also very impressive, but if the organ is in use, you're sure to be riveted by its magnificent sound!
A large protective arm smothering Gdańsk's Nowy Port to its south, the peninsula of Westerplatte first sprang to fame as a popular health resort in the middle of the 19th century, although it's as a military zone and the place where the opening shots of WWII were fired that Westerplatte is more notoriously remembered.
On March 14, 1924 Poland was awarded Westerplatte as a location for bringing in military equipment and ammunition from abroad, and on November 11, 1925, exactly seven years after the end of WWI and the subsequent signing of the Treaty of Versailles that created the Free City of Gdańsk, the building of a new depot that was to station a small detachment of 88 Polish soldiers was completed. Over the next 14 years Westerplatte grew into a huge defensive fort, and was considered so strategically important to Hitler that his invasion of Poland effectively started here.
Today Westerplatte is a memorial site featuring a scattering of shelled bunkers, burnt-out ruins a couple of old snack bars, souvenir stalls and a small museum open during the summer. To get to Westerplatte on public transport from the main train station in Gdansk you first need to take tram no. 8 to the Music Academy and from there catch bus N°106 to Westerplatte. A direct but seasonal route (606) runs from Gdansk train station on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays between June 30 and August 31. A more fun but more expensive option is to take one of the boats moored along the Gdansk waterfront which cruise through the shipyards up to the peninsula and have food and drink options on-board.
A thousand-year history, a location at the crossroads of important commercial and communication routes, an extensive port and mercantile traditions - all this makes Gdańsk a meeting place of many cultures, nationalities and denominations.
The first written mention of Gdańsk comes from 997. The defensive and urban complex as well as a port started to really form in the second half of the 10th century.
The dynamic development of trade, fishery and craft guilds soon pushed the city to the leading position in Pomerania. It maintained this even despite being taken over by the Teutonic Knights in 1308. The city continued to develop dynamically. Joining the League of Hanseatic Cities (in 1361) and the fast development of the port are just some of the factors contributing to the strong position of Gdańsk in Europe.
Although after the defeat of the Teutonic Order near Grunwald the city voted for the Polish king, it did not return to Poland until 1457 when King Kazimierz Jagiellończyk incorporated Gdańsk into the Crown and, in recognition of the merits of Gdańsk burghers, granted Gdańsk numerous privileges, thus starting a three-hundred-year period of prosperity.
The following years are traditionally called the "golden age." During this time Gdańsk was one of the wealthiest and most significant cities in Europe. The religious freedom gained in the 16th century turned the city into a true melting pot of nationalities and denominations, giving it yet another stimulus for development, thanks to the specific "community of differences." It was one of the few such places in the world at the time.
This prosperity was checked by the Swedish wars and partitions of Poland in the 18th century. The city was cut off from Poland and in 1793 it was annexed to Prussia. What followed was a period of slow decline, the gloomiest in its history, interrupted but for a while by the Napoleonic wars.
In 1919, the Free City of Gdańsk was established under the Treaty of Versailles, which brought the city back to the elite of European ports. Unfortunately, in 1933 Nazis took power and fascist terror started to escalate in the city.
On 1 September 1939, at around 4.30 in the morning, it was here, in Gdańsk, that the Second World War started with shots fired from the battleship Schleswig-Holstein. It was a time of bravery and martyrdom of its citizens. The heroic fighting in Westerplatte and the martyrdom of the defenders of the Polish Post Office opened a new, tragic chapter in the history of Gdańsk.
The war and the particularly fierce struggle for liberation left Gdańsk completely devastated. Its reconstruction, with the help of fully dedicated citizens, took several dozen years. Gdańsk once again became the biggest Baltic port and regained its former splendour. Once again it drew the attention of the whole world, becoming a synonym for the liberation aspirations of Poles.
The Museum of The Second World War - 1939
The new opened museum which consider one of the most beautiful in all Europe.
Following the First World War, Gdańsk acquired the status of a Free City under the protection of the League of Nations, and thus became suspended between Poland and Germany. Hitler began making demands for its incorporation into the Third Reich in the autumn of 1938. Poland’s rejection of his claim opened the way to war. It was right here, on Westerplatte Peninsula, that the Germans attacked Poland’s military outpost on 1 September 1939, the date which is generally considered as the beginning of the Second World War. It was in neighbouring Pomerania that Nazi oppression of Poles began directly and was exceptionally harsh. Already on 2 September 1939, in nearby Stutthof, a concentration camp began to operate, with Gdańsk Poles as its first inmates. The autumn of 1939 saw the first forced expulsions of Poles from Pomerania.
Gdansk is an excellent place to go out, drinking or dancing. There are countless pubs and bars, many of which are located in basements of historic buildings. Often the distinction between restaurant, bars and clubs is very thin, as many places have restaurants or bars by day, While at night they become discotheques.
Clubs and pubs that characterize the nightlife in Gdansk are very informal and elegant little, but for this broadcast their charm and trendy: Undoubtedly, the premises of the nightlife in Gdansk transmit passion, creativity, enthusiasm, and a good dose of extravagance that will enrich your vacation.
Gdansk night life is synonymous with live music venues, outdoor concerts and shows, But even breweries, cafes & wine bars. For those who want to continue to have fun until late at night, There are big clubs where you can dance the night away. In addition to, all pubs, breweries and discos in Gdańsk are located in the historic centre are all a short distance between them, so you don't have to work or walking so much to get.
In summer, the terraces at the Long Market and along the river Motlawa River are filled with beer gardens and other outdoor bars. Gdansk is visited especially in summer, Thanks to its proximity to the city of party Sopot and Gdynia, which are located on the coast and attract many Poles who decide to spend their holidays on Baltic Sea.