was one of the gems in Poland that we visited, but here our journey didn’t end. In my previous post, where I was telling the story from Sopot, I’ve already shared few words on our arrival to Gdansk. But now it’s time to go in more details and discover all the secrets of the historical city.
First building that caught our attention on the way to our hostel from Central Station was the Library of Polish Academy of Science. It’s located in historic building built in 1902-1904, but it was established in 1596 as a “City Council Library” and had a big collection of volumes, which was enriched during coming centuries by different humanists and scientists. Nowadays it’s a quite big building in the Old Town of Gdansk with a dramatic look.
But when you visit Gdansk, you’ll see that it’s a huge city, the biggest from the tricity (Gdansk, Sopot, Gdynia). Very close to our hostel, just a street away there was a Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970. This are 3 majestic crosses with anchors, each 42m high and 140 tons weight, showing the symbols of hope. The monument erected to commemorate the bloody victims of the workers’ strikes in December 1970.
The view around wasn’t really impressive, but you may meet a small mix of old and new here, as we had, an old tram passing nearby of modern buildings.. Dark clouds behind the grey building made this view kind of scary, but in the same time magical.
Some 10-15 minutes of walk in the safe streets, full of people walking on, or having coffee with tasty sweets in cozy cafes, and here we are in the heart of the Old Town, again. Of course we already had a short walk-around here one day before, in the evening, after we came back from Sopot, but during the day the colors are brighter, even in a cloudy day. Just like in the previous cities we already visited (Katowice
), here also all the buildings were painted in different colors, that made the view more fabulously.
But not only colorful buildings are the ones, that might take your attention. On the way to the Old Town you’ll see a small building, with kind of strange small windows on the large roof. It turns out that it’s nothing else but The Grand Mill of Gdansk. It’s build around mid 14th century on the Radunia canal and was the largest Teutonic investment in Gdansk. The structure combined three functions: that of a flour mill, a granary and a bakery. It was equipped with 18 overshot water-wheels, each 5m in diameter, which represented a great technical achievement for that time.
It’s also one of the places, where people come to take pictures or just relax on the benches nearby, where the sound of the water from canal will “sing” a relaxing song, and in the evening time the colorful lights, that play with waves, will complete the view.
Historical landmarks here are everywhere. In every step you may pass one of them. All (or maybe almost all) the walking routs in the Old Town start from Dluga street, from the arch of Golden Gate. This is one of the notable tourist attractions here. It’s created in 1612-14, in place of 13th century gothic gate. The Gate is located on one end of Long Lane (Dluga st.) and together with “Hight Gate” and “Prison Tower” it forms a part of the old city fortifications. Next to the Golden Gate is the late-gothic building of the Brotherhood of St. George.
Once you pass through the Golden Gate, another world will appear, with all colorful buildings, with paintings and crafts on the walls. Not very far from the Golden Gate, but already on Dlugi Targ street, you’ll see the symbol of Gdansk – The Neptune Fountain, which was built in 1633 on the initiative of the Mayor of Gdansk. The basin and the base are decorated in Rococo style with large array of sea creatures. According to one of the legends it was Neptune himself who contributed to the creation of the famous Gdansk liqueur called Goldwasser. He got angry at people throwing golden coins into the fountain and hit the water with his trident so hard that the gold fell to pieces, forming small golden flakes which now shine in the tasty herbal liqueur.
Both Dluga and Dlugi Targ streets, which are connected with each other, are the main walking streets in Gdansk and are also known as the Royal Rout. Here you’ll see the oldest preserved houses dating back to the middle ages.
On the other side of the Neptune Fountain there is the Main Town Hall building rising up. It was build in Middle ages in Gothic style, but after a fire in the mid 16th century it was reconstructed in Renaissance style. Today the Town Hall is famous for its replica of a set of 37 wonderful concert bells, which play a music every hour.
Few more minutes of walk, and you’ll see another historical creature in this amazing city, the Green Gate, which was built in the 1560s as the formal residence of Poland’s monarchs. This iconic city gate is the largest in Gdansk and houses the National Museum. It’s situated between Long Market (Dlugi Targ) and the River Motlawa. Amber museum is also a part of the National Museum and shows the unique collection of natural specimen. In the recesses of the museum you can learn the history of the formation of “Northern Gold” and inclusion, the medicinal use of amber, see a display of how it’s crafted and much more.
|Green Gate, view from Green bridge
With the Green Bridge you can cross the Old Motlawa River to discover another side of the city, the Granary island. But before crossing the bridge, turn right and look at the white houses on the other side of the bridge. Those are Gdansk Old Town Granary buildings. However, Gdansk Government Office is also located on that side.
But this is not the only famous buildings on Granary Island. Here you’ll find the ancient crane dating from 14th century, which allowed weight of 2 tons to be lifted 26m. Most of the old city walls have been torn down and replaced by wide avenues. Some of the gates remain, from which also these 2 bastions on the Granary Island that protected the old port. This is a Gothic defensive tower called Stagiewna Gate (Stagwie Mleczne), built in 1517-1519. It’s one of the city’s most important surviving monuments on the island.
You’ll also see ruins of old granaries on this island (there were more than 300 of them on 14-16th centuries!), part of which are on reconstruction process. One of the old granaries is already restored and today it’s a Central Maritime Museum of Gdansk, which collection is focused on history of shipbuilding and trade as well as models of Slavic boats, Gdansk’s medieval ships, warships from the 16th and 17th centuries and more.
But as this is a port-city, certainly there is a marine too. Marine close to the Granary island is very small. There are mostly private boats and yachts, but you can also take a ride on Motlawa River by an Old Galleon Ship. But this is not the only big ship here. On the main part of the city, when you turn left before crossing the Green Bridge and walk by Dlugie Pobrzeze street (on the direction of Rybackie Pobrzeze street) you’ll meet a white sailing ship, which on the day we were there looked gorgeous, especially on a background of clouds.
But this is yet not the all. You will see a lot of narrow streets in parallel to the Long Market, but the most popular one is Mariacka (St. Mary’s street) that leads from the St. Mary’s church to the Long Embankment with the Medieval St. Mary’s Gate. The street is an exquisite example of historic Gdansk planning with terraces entrances and narrow, richly decorated facades of houses which once belonged to affluent merchants and goldsmiths.
It’s undoubtedly one of the most beautiful streets of Gdansk which is lined with jewelry & amber shops. When we were walking there, checking small and big shops of amber, our attention caught one of the facades with Armenian letter. It turns out that there was an office of Armenian community in Poland, where they had a Sunday schools for those who wants to learn Armenian, having events time to time and organizing different activities. On the ground floor of the community there was also an amber shop, but when we entered, we found much more than just an amber. There was a small gallery of paintings and ceramics inside, Galeria Nairi
, by the famous artist Gagik Parsamian
At the end of the street was the largest brick church in Europe, Basilica of St. Mary. It’s a Gothic Roman Catholic place of worship, which construction began in 14th century and completed in 1502, with a royal chapel. The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary is 105m long, including the tower battlements and the vaults soar 29m above floor level. The solid main tower is 77.6m high and it is crowned with a viewing gallery which enables visitors to enjoy a panoramic view of the city. In order to get there it’s necessary to climb more than 400 steps! But this didn’t scare us. How could we see a tower with a viewpoint and not get there? And we started to climb. Little by little we’re going up. On some level we were in a point, from which we could see the “roofs” of domes from above. We still continue to go up and here we are, on the roof of the tower. The view definitely worth the climbing. Unfortunately the day was still cloudy and not all could be seen as clear as it could be. But we had a 360° view to the city. All the red roof of the Old Town buildings, small amusement area with the Ferris Weel. Behind new modern building you could see a forest that separate the city with a Baltic sea and the beaches.
Watch your steps while you go down by steps from the tower. There is of course another way to go down, not to interfere with the ones, who just starting to climb up. And here, on the way down, you’ll have a part of the way as a narrow spiral staircase, which is kind of dangerous if you decide to go fast, as stars are sliding and you could fell down.. down right inside the church! So be careful 🙂
About the beaches.. this was probably the most funny part of our trip today. We knew that Gdansk has some famous and clean beaches, that are also awarded with a Blue Flag for their water quality, and we didn’t want to miss a chance to spend some time in the Gdansk beaches too (the day before in Sopot wasn’t enough! ahahah). But we didn’t check how far they are from the city center. On the map it looked close somehow. But when we started to walk on that direction, we noticed that we’re going on somewhere strange.. passing some military areas, not too much people and we started to doubt – do we really need to go there? Ok, having a smartphone with a map is quite helpful in this situation. Checking again.. No.. Beaches are too far to walk. Better to go there by car or a transport. So we gave up and came back to the city.
After we came back, we found an information on how to get there.. maybe that could be useful for you or maybe for us as well, if we have a chance to be back to this wonderful city. Here is how to get to the most famous beaches – Brzezno and Stogi:
Stogi – trams no. 8, 3
Brzezno – trams no. 3, 5, bus night line N2, N12
Jelitkowo – trams no. 4, 6, 8, bus night line N4
Sobieszewo – bus no 112, 186, night line N9
Sobieszewo – Orle – bus no. 112, night line N9
After a tired day it’s the best time to enjoy the meal, and what could be better to have in Poland than something from a national cuisine? This time it was a grilled pork knee with some fried potato dumplings. So yummy…
The day was almost over. We walked a lot, saw so many things: some of them were already planned in advance to see, some of them were discovered by chance. But all of them were amazing and super interesting. I can surely say that Gdansk is one of the gems of Poland, that you should visit if there is a chance. You’ll never regret, as this city has still kept the spirit of the World War II, but is already a great place to travel for a city walk, history and beach lovers. Anyone could find the most interested activity here on each season of the year.
The day is over, another long night on the way, and more adventures in Warsaw are waiting for us 😍