I have been wondering about which place should I write my next blog about. There are so many places to write about but I was looking at my albums and decided to write about the beautiful Polish city on the Baltic coast, Gdansk.
I visited Gdansk during my travel to Poland in the summer time this year. Exploring the town of Gdansk is a delight for any traveller. The main town is a lovely sight of red brick churches and colourful mansions. Gdansk is located on the Motlawa River which is a tributary of the mighty Vistula River.
What I experienced in Gdansk
- The Waterside and the Prussian Hags
- Zuraw, the medieval crane
- Long Lane and Long Market
- Neptune Fountain
- Green Gate, Town Hall and Artus Court
- St Mary’s Church
- Amber Boutique and museum
- European Solidarity Centre, and
- Nice food, history and culture along with Polish hospitality
As you walk towards the Old Town of Gdansk, the first building which catches your eyes is the Green Gate. It is situated between Long Market and the River Motlawa. The Green Gate now houses the National Museum of Gdansk. The office of former Polish President Lech Walesa is located in one of the rooms.
The pedestrianised zone within the heart of the town of Gdansk are the Long Lane and Long Market. At the centre of Gdansk Main Town, the entire square is surrounded by beautiful facades of various historic buildings. This area is also filled with shops and restaurants and like a social centre of the town.
Standing in the centre of the Long Market square is it’s main attraction, the Neptune Fountain, a 17th-century symbol of the city topped by a bronze statue of the sea god.
Behind the Neptune fountain is Artus Court which used to be the meeting place of merchants. This is now a branch of the Gdansk History Museum.
Another beautiful and historic building in the main town square is the Gdansk Town Hall, located at the intersection of the Long Lane and Long Market. The main Town Hall in Gdansk now houses the History Museum. This building is the 2nd highest building in the town after St Mary’s Church.
Gdansk is also famous for Baltic amber. There is even a museum decimated to amber. Throughout the town you’ll find boutiques selling amber artefacts and jewelleries. The boutique I visited even has a small museum where the shop assistants show you how amber is polished and the amber products are created.
Across the Motlawa River is the Granary Island, where grains were stored before being loaded into ships to be taken away for trade. Before WWII, there were around 400 granaries on this island. Today you can see most of these granaries are in ruins.
From the bridge when you look out towards the river on your left is Zuraw, the huge wooden medieval port crane hanging over the Motlawa river. This huge crane from the 15th century was once used for loading and repairing ships.
Walking along the embankment towards the crane is a red brick brick building which houses the National Archeological Museum. Few of it’s ancient collection can be seen outside within a small garden. These ‘Prussian Hags’ are small stone sculptures. You’ll find the description of each sculpture in the plaques next to these.
Gdansk’s most famous church is the St. Mary’s Church, a Roman Catholic church located in the Old Town. It is currently one of the largest brick churches in the world. The huge church tower at 80 meters is visible from most part of the town. Inside the wonderful church are some sights not be missed.
As you enter the church, look behind and look up to the huge 17th century organ.
The Pieta inside St. Mary’s Church in Gdansk is carved from limestone and painted around 1410.
Anyone interested in horology must not miss the famous masterpiece inside the St Mary’s Church. It is the Gdansk Astronomical Clock which is a fifteenth-century astronomical clock, perhaps the biggest wooden clock in the world. The clock was constructed by Hans Duringer, who was a clockmaker from Nuremberg.
It’s complex dials show the time and date, phases of the moon, the position of the moon and sun in relation to the zodiac signs, and the calendar of saints. On the top is Adam and Eve who are there to ring the bell. The person on the left with the pointer shows on which day each Saint’s festival day is for various years.
In one of the church corners is the Memorial to Polish victims of the 2010 plane crash, in which the Black Madonna honours all the 96 victims of the 2010 air crash which killed most of Poland’s government officials, including the President and 1st Lady. The main tomb is in honour of Maciej Plazynski, who was from Gdansk.
For those who can, you can climb the 400 odd steps to the Tower to have a grand view of the town
The European Solidarity Centre is a museum and library in Gdansk devoted to the Polish trade union and civil resistance movement, the Solidarity. The centre has exhibits, books and documents display and you can walk through the nicely self guided walk through the various exhibits which tells the story of the Solidarity Movement.
You can see the gate to the port where the famous movement started.
Outside the Solidarity centre is the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers. The three majestic crosses with anchors – symbols of hope were erected to commemorate the victims of the workers’ strikes in December 1970.
One of the striking pieces of the exhibit is the logo of the Solidarity Movement on a giant wall, made of the Red and White cards which are hand written notes from the visitors to the centre.
During my stay in Gdansk, I enjoyed a nice dinner by the riverside in a restaurant called Gdansk Bowke. It is famous for it’s beer, traditional Polish food and the view of course.
After a few beers if you happen to visit the toilets, and can still read, do not miss the signs on the door of the Gentlemen and Ladies’ rooms.
- For more information on Gdansk attractions please see here
- Most sights in the town are within easy walking distance, for out of town sights there are buses and trams.
- There are restaurants on the riverside where you can sit outside and enjoy the view along with Polish beer and food.
- Gdansk has an international airport, Gdansk Lech Walesa Airport.
- Long distance trains are connects Gdansk with major Polish cities, including Warsaw, Krakow, Poznan etc
- Gdansk and the nearby towns of Sopot and Gdynia are together known as the ‘Tri-City’
- Gdansk can be visited over a weekend but allowing 2 full days in the city is recommended
- One of the nearby and popular site to visit on a half day trip from Gdansk is Malbork Castle, a castle of the Teutonic Knights.
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You might like my other Travel story on The Dwarfs of Wroclaw, Poland