After a quick introduction in Poznan, our real adventure through Poland began in Gdansk. Generally regarded as the most beautiful city on the Baltic Coast, Gdansk (formerly known as Danzig) is Poland’s primary port and a city of great historical importance (which we will touch on tomorrow).
First and foremost, Gdansk is beautiful. I know we say this about all the places we visit, but in this case it really is true (not that the others were untrue…). After being devastated during WW2, the city has been painstakingly reassembled and restored, and is starting to resemble its pre-war glory days. With an abundance of sights and activities, Gdansk makes for a perfect multi-day stop on a trip through Poland.After dropping off our bags at our hostel for the night, we immediately made our way to old town. Gdansk is a melting pot of architectural styles – a solid Gothic base with a little Rococo and Dutch Renaissance has created a beautiful and unique city, only further enhanced by its perfect waterfront location. Buildings with fantastic history litter the streets, many with placards stating their original purpose and showing sketches and photos of what they looked like before the war.One of the highlights of any visit to Gdansk would have to be taking a stroll down Dluga Street (“the Long Lane”), which leads from the golden gate to the Long Market and the waterfront. As the most important street of the city, it is only fitting that it is lined by some of the coolest buildings. Here you can find Arthur’s Court, the Town Hall, and Neptune’s fountain – as well as thousands of tourists also staring up at the colourful buildings surrounding them. It is also home (kind of) to St. Mary’s Church, rumoured to be the largest brick church in the world with the ability to accommodate 25, 000 people for mass. If we are being honest, It was pretty ugly inside.
Something that definitely wasn’t ugly was perhaps Gdansk’s defining feature – it’s gorgeous waterfront. We spent a lot of time along the waterfront soaking in some nice September sunshine and photographing the boats and buildings that line the Motlawa River. It was amazing to think that this piece of water actually connects boats from Warsaw to the Baltic Sea. Our favorite building was “The Crane” – a man-powered structure built in the 1440’s that could lift up to 4 tonnes. It is truly a masterpiece of medieval engineering, and we were blown away simply looking up at it. It now houses the maritime museum of Gdansk.Finally, no trip would be complete without taking a stroll down Mariacka Street. Lined with shops and stalls selling the world famous Amber found in the regions surrounding the city, this has long been one of the most important merchant streets in Gdansk and the surrounding region. I know Calli has lots to say on this so I will only say that the highlight of this street for me were the countless gargoyles adorning the rooftops, balconies, and front steps of the buildings lining the street.
Logistics: The old town is very compact and can be walked easily. If you want to know more about the old town and the history of the buildings there, there are a number of museums and guided walking tours (including a free one every day at noon). For a great view of the waterfront, head across the bridge away from it and then head left until you come to the Philharmonic Building – from there you can get the gates and the crane in your photo.
Come back tomorrow when we will talk about the amazing history of the region!