Gdansk has a long story, that many people sometimes forgive… it was crucial during the Second World War and a milestone of the labour union fights. It was exemplar for the last point, as the polish people fought with energy against the system and against the established rules to let workers have a better life and recognize their dignity and value. Many cultures, nationalities and denominations you will find here, the city of the Amber, for me special of course…my name says everything…
The location was also crucial because it is at the crossroads of important commercial and communication routes, an extensive port and mercantile traditions.
The dynamic development of trade, fishery and craft guilds and more had their best period in the 14th – 15th century: the "golden age." During this time Gdańsk was one of the wealthiest and most significant cities in Europe.
Furthermore, the religious freedom gained in the 16th century turned the city into a true melting pot of nationalities and denominations, giving it yet another stimulus for development, thanks to the specific "community of differences." It was one of the few such places in the world at the time.
We need also to remember that after the Swedish wars and partitions of Poland in the 18th century, the city was cut off from Poland and in 1793 it was annexed to Prussia.
What followed was a period of decline till Napoleon arrived here. In 1919, the Free City of Gdańsk was established under the Treaty of Versailles, which brought the city back to the elite of European ports.
After that Gdansk started again to be famous… not for a good fact… Unfortunately, in 1933 Nazis took power and fascist terror started to escalate in the city. On 1 September 1939, it was here, in Gdańsk, that the Second World War started with shots fired from the battleship Schleswig-Holstein.
Here the people of the city started to be fighter against a bad destiny. The heroic fighting in Westerplatte and the martyrdom of the defenders of the Polish Post Office opened a new, tragic chapter in the history of Gdańsk. Te city were destroyed and the reconstruction were long and difficult…. . For the whole world, the city was becoming a synonym for the liberation aspirations of Poles.
The tragic December 1970, and then August 1980 and the martial law period are the successive dates symbolizing the fight of the citizens of Gdańsk against the prevailing communist regime. Gdańsk became the cradle of "Solidarność" which was to transform the then map of Europe. History has come full circle. Contemporary Gdańsk - a half-a-million, dynamically developing agglomeration - is vibrant with life as before and again deserves to be called "the Pearl of the North."
WHAT TO SEE
If you like street art, Gdansk is perfect! Just four stops from Gdansk Glowny is the Gdansk Zaspa district. This largely residential area may not have many traditional “attractions”, but the facades of its communist-era tower blocks are painted in intricate and often colourful murals.
Visit the museums: “Solidarnosc” Museum and the second World War Mesuem
Gdansk has some of the best museums in Poland and I think in Europe too. Especially because here you will find the “Solidarnosc” Museum (ECS: European center of Solidariety) and the second World War Mesuem. The European Solidarity Centre tells the story of a steelworkers’ strike, which set in motion a cultural movement that spread around Poland and ultimately led to the fall of communism. What you will feel inside is incredible, there are also free auodio guide that will help you to live again those events or at least, if you are too young to understand what really this population passed during the last decades and how the people that really fight for their rights and their freedom act. Nothing compared to the politicians of today…. Both the Museum are modern and opened not so many years ago…. So you will really appreciate the style of those Museums.
Explore the Old Town
It is the most touristy (and busiest) part of the city, but Gdansk Old Town is beautiful and a walk around is an essential part of any visit. Each building carries a story, from the seemingly “medieval” facade close to the Golden Gate (which was actually painted by Soviet authorities), to the statues atop buildings rebuilt after the Second World War. A walk alongside the marina is a must if the weather is good, and the historic Soldek ship is also worth checking out.
Not forgive to pass in Ulica Mariacka, in the city centre retains its pre-Second World War terraces and is now home to a number of artisan shops selling amber jewellery, for which Gdansk is famous.
The sea in Poland!
As I stayed 2 days I decided to go to the sea….. I arrived by fly and I have to admit I was not thinking of long beaches in Poland… my fault…. If you have time just go, take a normal tram ticket and arrive to the end in Brzezno, and from there you can walk to Sopot, the best place to stay at the sea!