Attractions in Gdansk
We take the chance to list a street as an attraction in itself. For
centuries, Ulitsa Mariacka, or Mariagaten, has attracted
artists, musicians, and bohemians, and still abounds with galleries and
workshops where you can see amber jewelry being made.
We also nominate it as Europe's most romantic and charming street, with
narrow and richly decorated house facades where the city's wealthy goldsmiths
and traders once lived.
- See DigoPaul for dictionary definitions of Gdansk,
Poland. Includes geographical map and city sightseeing photos.
Highland Sports (Brama Wyzynna)
Along the so-called Kongeveien, the route through which the city's powerful
and royal guests were led, most of the cultural attractions are located in
Gdansk. The Royal Road starts in the west with the so-called Highland Gate,
which was completed in 1588. It is built in the Renaissance style and has three
coat of arms on the facade, both from Prussia, Poland and Gdansk. The
inscription means "Justice and moderation are the cornerstones of all kingdoms".
The gate is located on the street ulitsa Boguslawskiego.
This Gothic / Renaissance style building from the 1400s was originally part
of the medieval fortifications surrounding the city. When the Highland Gate was
built, the Forport was transformed into a prison, torture chamber and courtroom,
which it was until the mid-1800s. Today it is a museum dedicated to amber, the
gold of Gdansk.
The Golden Gate (Zlota Brama)
The western main entrance to Gdansk's parade street Dluga is this
two-storey triumphal arch that was built in the early 17th century. The stone
statues at the top symbolize the most important characteristics; peace, freedom,
wealth, fame, unity, justice, moderation and wisdom.
The old town hall in Gdansk
The most recognizable building on Kongeveien is the old town hall of Gdansk,
which was originally erected in the 13th century. It was destroyed in the Great
Fire in 1556 and rebuilt in today's Renaissance style with the 81.5 meter high
tower which houses a bell with 37 bells. On the top stands a gilded statue of
natural size by the Polish King Sigismund II Augustus. The address is Dluga
Today, the building houses the Gdansk Historical Museum, which is open from
1000 to 1600 Tuesday to Sunday, and to 1800 in the summer. Mondays from 1100 to
1500. The entrance fee costs a few dollars and is also free on Mondays.
For a tier extra you can reach about 50 meters up the tower and get a glorious
view of the area.
On the market street Dlugi Targ, just outside the Town Hall stands a
mighty fountain depicting the sea god Neptune with his wood forks. This is the
oldest non-Christian monument in all of Poland, and was built around 1610. The
fountain goes on most postcards and advertising posters from Gdansk, and is
probably the most photographed object in the entire region.
The Green Gate (Zielona Brama)
At the end of the royal road and the Dluga / Dlugi Targ parade is
the Green Gate, which was built as a royal residence around 1570. Today, the
building serves as an exhibition venue under the National Museum, and if you are
lucky you may meet Lech Walesa on the way out or in of their offices, which are
also located here.
Church of St. Mary (Kosciol Mariacki)
St. Mary's Church is the world's largest stone church, and was built in the
Gothic style in the period 1343-1502. It covers over 5,000 square meters and
should have had plenty of room for the over 25,000 people who sought refuge here
during the bombing of World War II.
You get a fabulous view of Gdansk if you ascend the 396 steps to the top of
the 82-meter-high bell tower. Also note the enormous 1460s astronomical clock
that shows time, month, year and the astronomical position of the planets, sun
and moon. At 1200 each day, the apostles, Adam and Eve, the Three Wise Men, and
Death appear. According to legend, the designer, Hans Düringer, must have been
blinded afterwards for not being able to create something as beautiful
elsewhere, but exactly that story may be recognized by many from the Prague
Astronomical Clock or St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow. St. Mary's Church is
located at the western end of Ulitsa Mariacka Street.
Cranes (Zuraw Gdanski)
The large black crane that stands on the banks of the Motlawa River is one of
Gdansk's foremost and oldest landmarks. It was built in the mid-1400s and was
the largest crane of its kind. It was driven by human power; men who stepped
inside a wooden treadmill.
The crane was used both to unload boats and get shipmasters in place, and
could lift up to two tons, which was quite unique in the Middle Ages. It is
mounted over a building that also served as one of the city gates. The crane is
still functional, but today it is part of the Gdansk Maritime Museum. The
address is ulitsa Szeroka 67/68, entry about 20 kroner. Open from 1000
to 1800, but closes 1600 in winter. Closed Mondays.
Monument of fallen shipyard workers
On pl. Solidarnosci stands three 42-meter-high steel crosses, a
memorial to workers who lost their lives in the bloody strikes in 1970. Here,
too, the shipyard workers gathered under the leadership of Lech Walesa in the
dramatic December days in 1980, when the authorities introduced the state of
emergency. The episode turned out to be the beginning of the end of communism in
Eastern Europe, and the many memorials on the brick wall behind the crosses can
make it go cold down the back of anyone and everyone.
The board with Solidarity's 21 postulates also hangs here, and is declared
part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Nearby is a museum dedicated to the
Solidarity movement and its significance.
A few kilometers north of the city center is Westerplatte, the site of World
War II at dawn on September 1, 1939, when German soldiers attacked the Polish
garrison here, but the 182 Polish soldiers must have resisted the German war
machine in a all week, and only 15 of those soldiers must have lost their lives.
Here you can see today the tombs of these Polish war heroes, the remains of
some of the buildings and a large stone memorial on top of a green hilltop, and
the inscription "Never more war!"
Tourist in Gdansk
Gdansk is located in northern Poland, by the Baltic Sea, and the city has
about 460,000 inhabitants, making Gdansk the fourth largest city in Poland by
Although Gdansk is a busy port city, the city and the surrounding area have
an amazing amount to offer the tourists. And every time we visit Poland, we are
surprised that cities like Gdansk, Krakow and Warsaw do not attract more
Norwegian tourists than they actually do.
Maybe it is the Norwegians' prejudices that make them no longer visit Poland?
If you still have the impression that Polish cities are made up of sad heavy
industry, post-communist tongue and underpaid strawberry pickers, then you
should change your mind as soon as possible. Poles are friendly and open,
hardworking and service minded.
Norwegians are habitual travelers who regularly travel on weekends to the
favorites London, Paris, Copenhagen and Barcelona, but be aware that you get a
lot more money in Gdansk than in some of these cities, despite the fact that the
private level has increased significantly since Poland's membership in The EU
became a reality in 2004.
The story of Gdansk
The first settlements in the Gdansk area appeared as early as the 600s, but
the year 997 is considered the year when the city was founded. In 1361, Gdansk
became one of the Hanseatic trading ports, leading to growth in both economy and
population. In the 16th century, Gdansk had its golden age and established
itself as a trading center and the most important port of the Baltic Sea. The
population was already multicultural. Germans, Poles, Dutch and Scots.
When the nation of Poland temporarily ceased to exist as an independent
nation in the late 18th century and was divided between Prussia, Russia and
Austria, Gdansk fell under Prussian rule. In 1871 the city became part of the
German Empire. After World War I, the nation resurrected Poland, but since the
majority of Gdansk's inhabitants were Germans, the city instead became the Free
Town of Danzig, with its own parliament and currency. This lasted until World
War II, which started with the attack on Westerplatte in Gdansk, and the city
was almost leveled with the earth in 1945.
After the end of the war, Danzig again became Gdansk and part of Poland. The
city's many German inhabitants were banished and replaced by Poles who were
again banished from parts of eastern Poland that had now come under Soviet
Gdansk played an important role during the fall of communism in Eastern
Europe. First during the shipyard workers' strikes for a better standard of
living in 1970, when 44 workers were killed, then in 1980 when the trade union
Solidarity, led by electrician Lech Walesa, went on strike. Similar strikes
spread rapidly throughout Poland. This eventually led to the authorities
introducing state of emergency, made Solidarity illegal and mass-arrested
members. Lech Walesa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and in 1990 he
became Poland's first democratically elected president.
Tourist areas in Gdansk
Gdansk is the capital of the Polish state of Pomerania, which for many Poles
is the ideal summer holiday destination, with its beautiful nature and beautiful
sandy beaches. The area is characterized by centuries under German rule, but the
influence of Sweden right across the strait is also noticeable. Most of Gdansk's
tourist attractions are relatively easy to get to on foot, as long as you are
reasonably fresh and messy. If you are going to use Gdansk's efficient public
transport, you can plan your trip here.
Gdansk must be one of the very few cities where neither the area is called
the city center, nor what is called the Old Town, which attracts the most
tourists. Here, the tourists take the course directly for the district of Glówne
Miasto, which can be translated into the "main city".
The main city (in Gdansk)
The main town is bounded on the east by the Motlawa River, and on the south
by the Dluga parade street, or "Langgaten", but which is not really long. A
stroll here is like a trip 300 years back in time, with old wrought iron lamp
posts, colorful narrow Dutch / Italian renaissance style facades and no glowing
billboards or neon signs that ruin the idyllic impression. It is almost
impossible to believe that just over 60 years ago, all this beauty was just a
jumble of ruins after World War II.
The Dluga and the subsequent eastern part of Dlugi Targ (the Long Market) are
the most important of the so-called Kongeveien, the route through which the
city's powerful or royal guests once traveled. Here are most of Gdansk's
cultural values. The old city gates of Highland Gate and Green Gate are at each
end, with sights such as the Prison Tower, the main city hall and the Neptune
fountain along the route.
Don't miss the extremely charming street ul.Mariacka, which extends
from the world's probably largest stone church, the Church of St. Mary (Kosciól
Mariacki), and down to the river. Along this cobbled little street you will find
several of the distinctive amber shops, workshops, galleries and outdoor cafes
where you can enjoy a kawa (coffee) or a pivo (beer) in the
sun while being entertained by street musicians. And by that we mean classic
string quartets, not guitar troubadours.
The Old Town of Gdansk
The Old Town (Stare Miasto) is located
north of the Main City, but here it is further between the sights. Take with you
the city's oldest church, St. Nicholas Church, (Kosciol Sw. Mikolaja) from the
early 1100s, and the Old Town Town Hall. Despite the name, the Old Town is not
particularly older than the Capital, and both districts once had their own
authorities, and therefore Gdansk has two town halls. The Old Town had a
majority of Polish inhabitants, while the wealthier Germans mostly lived in the
The areas along the Motlawa River are idyllic and can be reminiscent of Aker
Brygge in Oslo with its many outdoor restaurants and bars. Here is one of
Gdansk's foremost landmarks, the Crane (read more under Attractions ) and the
city's large Maritime Museum.
The area that most of the city's residents call the city center
is located north of the Old Town and Glowny Central Station. This is a more
modern area with tall commercial buildings in glass and steel, and of less
interest to tourists.
The exception is Solidarity Square (Pl. Solidarnosci), where you will find
three steel crosses of 42 meters, a memorial to the workers who lost their lives
in the bloody strikes in 1970. Here the shipyard workers gathered under the
leadership of Lech Walesa in the dramatic December days in 1980, when the
authorities introduced the exception state. The board with Solidarity's 21
postulates also hangs here, and is declared part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
Nearby is also a museum that deals with the Solidarity movement and its
History lovers should join Westerplatte, the peninsula
located a few kilometers north of the city center. This is where the Second
World War started at dawn on September 1, 1939, when German soldiers attacked
the Polish garrison here. The 182 Polish soldiers are said to have stood against
the German war machine for a whole week, and only 15 of them reportedly lost
their lives in this first battle.
Triple village in Poland
During your stay in Gdansk you will probably come across the term
Trippelbyen, or Tri-City. Gdansk is in practice merged with its two neighboring
towns of Sopot and Gdynia.
Gdynia is a new and modern city with about 250,000 inhabitants, wide avenues
and shopping centers, while Sopot in a man's age and so it has been Poland's
premier destination for entertainment, relaxation and entertainment, not least
because of the long sandy beaches, all the nightlife and casinos. The city has
only about 30000 inhabitants, and the population has steadily declined in recent
years. Housing prices in Sopot are among Poland's highest, and more and more
residents are selling their homes to wealthy people who use the city as a
Sopot is known for its water sports, and windsurfers and sailors especially
enjoy it here. Europe's longest wooden jetty protrudes 511 meters from the beach
at the end of Sopot's main street Bohaterow Monte Cassino. A bicycle path runs
along the entire coastline, making it easy to cycle all the way from Gdansk, via
Sopot and to Gdynia. Sopot also has Poland's largest complex of tennis courts,
two indoor swimming pools, trot courts and golf courses, so you are not missing
opportunities to be active.