Gdansk - the city of freedom
Gdansk is as old as Poland itself. Located on the sea coast of the Baltic and at the mouth of the Vistula, Gdansk was the Polish gateway to the sea, a thriving, wealthy city, an important Hanseatic port and a Free City.
In the 20th century, Gdansk was the scene of the first battle of the Second World War. Like the heroes of ancient Thermopylae, the heroic defenders of Westerplatte wrote a chapter in the history of this majestic city. Being so prosperous, the city of Gdansk was often besieged by mercenary armies and had to defend its sovereignty.
It is no wonder that here in Gdansk, the Solidarity movement struggling for freedom was born. For centuries, ships from all over the world have moored at the Gdansk waterfront. Here, today, tourists can board pleasure boats to take them on a cruise along the Baltic coast.
The Old Town, also known as the Main Town, developed along ulica Dluga (Long Street) and Dlugi Targ (Long Market). Ending at the Golden and Green Gates, these streets are lined with many historical monuments, art galleries and jewellers’ workshops. Here, one finds the Gothic Town Hall and the Artus Court where the town’s patricians played host to royals. The nearby Golden House symbolises the affluence of the local burghers. The Neptune Fountain is a meeting point popular with tourists and lovers alike.
It is here that the majority of Gdansk summer art festivals are held, as well as the famous Dominican Fair which attracts many visitors from all over the world.
A real masterpiece of architecture is the little ulica Mariacka (St Mary’s Street) with its narrow houses and spacious terraces under which are located galleries of amber jewellery.
The Oliwa Cathedral is not to be missed: its showpiece is a magnificent organ noted for its fine tone and baroque ornamentation using mechanised figures.
Sopot and Gdynia are the closest neighbouring cities near Gdansk. Sopot is an international health resort and a cultural centre. People come here for rest, recreation and entertainment in style. Many stroll along the water on the 500 metrelong local pier.
Gdynia is the host to Poland’s leading film festival. Moored on its waterfront are two famous museum ships: the Second World War destroyer Blyskawica and the threemasted tall ship Dar Pomorza.