Gdansk – the sea pearl of Poland
Summer is the best time to visit Gdansk. You may get to the ancient city with the help of PKP Intercity, TransBus Express and many others. One-way ticket prices cost starts from 50zł. Traveling by train will cost starts from 80zł.
Today, Gdansk together with neighboring towns Gdynia and Sopot form a metropolitan area, so-called Trójmiasto (Tri-City).
Gdansk is an ancient city. Located on the coast of the Baltic Sea, Gdansk was a port and the sea gate of Poland. In the 20th century, Gdansk became the arena of the first battle of the Second World War. The 90% of the city was completely destroyed.
Gdansk is interesting for tourists because of its unique architecture. Examining even ordinary houses with their small windows, red, brown and orange triangular roofs, you get the feeling that you’re in the fairy Kingdom of Far Away.
Sopot is a town that was founded in the 19th century. Today it is called the “Monte Carlo of the North”. Sopot is a famous a seaside resort town in Europe. You may relax, have fun, go for a walk on the pier, that goes half a kilometer into the sea.
Gdynia is a quite young town, that was built in the 1920th -1930th of the 20th century. The most important Polish film festival takes place in Gdynia. The warship “Blyskawica” and sailing frigate “Dar Pomorza” with three masts, that was built in 1909 are set on the harbor of the town. Currently, sailing ship is a museum and a part of the Central Maritime Museum in Gdansk.
It is very simple to get to both towns from Gdansk, thanks to the trains SKM (suburban train) which departs almost every hour.
Długa Street (Long Street) is the heart of Gdansk. Długa Street turns into Dlugi Targ Street (Long Market Street). These streets stretch from “Zlota Brama” (the Golden Gate) to “Zielona Brama” (the Green Gate). The Golden Gate was built in the 17th century. Four allegorical images –Reason, Justice, Devotion and Harmony are saved at the top of the gate. The late Gothic house of “Brotherhood of the Saint George “ is located behind the gate. The Green Gate is probably the oldest of the water gates of Gdansk. The first mention of this gate dates back to 1357.
Długa Street and Dlugi Targ Street form the “Royal Route”. It is called “Royal Route” because the richest residents of Gdansk lived here. Luxury houses, that lined up in a row, have their own interesting and unique histories.
Długa Street presents true and authentic Gdansk. Here you can see typical houses with narrow facades, sharp roofs and attics. The majestic “Ratusz Glównego Miasta” (the Main Town Hall) stands at the end of the street. The dome tower is 80-meter high. It was created by the master from New Zealand. The gilded statue of King Sigmund Augustus decorates it. The Red Hall inside the tower is considered to be the richest contemporary interior of town halls. The interior of the Red hall is the result of wonderful work of Hans Vredeman de Vries and Isaak van den Blocke.
Then you may go to “Ratusz Starego Miasta” (Old Town Hall). There on the Town Hall Square is situated “Dwór Artusa” (The Artus Court) that is the residence of respected citizens of Gdansk. The building is decorated with a statue of Mercury, which is a symbol of strength, justice and good luck. Inside the house you can see the luxurious interior with a huge 12-meter tiled stove. The stove is lined with 520 tiles depicting portraits of the most prominent European rulers. The portraits of Isabella of Portugal and Charles V are among them.
Opposite to “Dwór Artusa” is “Fontanna Neptuna” (Neptune’s Fountain). It is one of the ancient symbols of Gdansk. The sea has always played a key role for Gdansk, as the port city.
Mariacka Street is one of the most beautiful streets of the city. The street starts from “Kościoł Mariacki” (St. Mary’s Church ). The church is the largest Gothic church in Europe. Inside the church is room for 25,000 people. Majestic brick temple is known worldwide. Its height is 83 meters. The temple is decorated with a large astronomical clock. Overcoming 400 steps, you can climb the tower of the church and see the incredible panorama of Gdansk. The church tower is open until 5pm. “Kościołu Mariacki” can be visited throughout the year. In the period from April to November the entrance is paid.
St. Mary’s Church (“Kościoł Mariacki” )is a silent witness one of the most tragic love stories of Gdansk. The heroes of this tragedy were beautiful and rebellious daughter of the mayor and watchmaker Hans, who was known for his talent.
The mayor’s daughter often disappeared from home for many hours, and finally, her behavior aroused father’s suspicion.
– Father, I go to church. After all, there is nothing wrong, – was the daughter response.
Worried mayor didn’t trust his daughter. He knew that rumors were crawling around the city. People were talking about the relationship of watchmaker Hans with beautiful mayor’s daughter. Watchmaker was making a huge clock for St. Mary’s Church. Despite the fact that Hans was clever and diligent man, he belonged to the working class of society. The relationship of mayor’s daughter with a simple artisan would be unrecognized by the higher society. The mayor could not allow such situation. Once he came to St. Mary’s Church, and saw watchmaker standing on a ladder. The mayor went up to him, trying to start a conversation. However, the watchmaker was very busy with his work and barely mumbled something in response. Such behavior hurt the mayor’s pride. Angry mayor didn’t cope with his emotions and put a knife in Hans’ back. While falling from a ladder, the watchmaker touched some parts of the clock and the entire mechanism was broken.
The mayor was sentenced to death and the clock was broken till 1990.
Mariacka Street is a good example of typical and beautiful Gdansk, with its narrow streets, rich facades of comfortable houses that once belonged to merchants and jewelers. Today there are many shops that sell amber jewelry and different souvenirs.
“Park Oliwski” (the Olive Park) was founded in the 18th century on the territory of the old monastery gardens. Today, the park is famous for its collection of plants from around the world. Beautiful alpine garden, which was founded in 1920, an orangery, picturesque hornbeam alley, rocks and waterfalls are really worth visiting. The park is open from 5am till 11pm.
“Żuraw” (the Crane) is one of the most original architectural monuments in Gdansk. The Crane was built in the 15th century. It was rebuilt in 1950s after war damages. Nowadays, it is a part of Central Maritime Museum. The Crane was one of the most advanced buildings in Europe of its time. This port crane was used for loading and unloading ships and had a defensive function.
Gdansk is great for both passive and active rest. You can find 23 kilometers of clean beaches there. There are three areas that are organized for swimming. All beaches are well equipped. Those who prefer outdoor activities at the sea may try diving, surfing and canoeing.
On the website www.booking.com you may book a room at one of hostels and hotels in Gdansk. Prices start from 50zł per person, but cheaper options can be found too.
After a long walk around the city, you may relax and eat in restaurant “Restauracja Kubicki” on Wartka St. 5, which is the oldest family restaurants in Gdansk. It was founded in 1918.
The restaurant offers a wide selection of dishes at reasonable prices.
“Bar Pod Rybą” on Piwna St. 61/63 is small and cozy restaurant that serves large portions at very reasonable prices. There is a possibility to take food with you.
Burger fans can enjoy burgers at “Surf Burger” on Garncarska St. 30.
“Maxi Pizza” on Pilotów St.3 offers a wide selection of pizzas