With a history dating back 1,000 years, Gdańsk is one of Poland’s oldest cities and, together with nearby Gdynia and Sopot, forms a Trójmiasto (Tricity), a large metropolitan area. But let’s take a look at Gdańsk — its history, as well as all there is to see and do.
It is Gdańsk that holds an important place in Polish consciousness as the location of the start of World War II, as well as where the fall of Communism in Central Europe began. It is in Gdańsk, too, where the Solidarity movement began to protect workers’ rights.
An easily walkable city, there are plenty of incredible attractions within Gdańsk to visit that will easily fill your time. Let’s start with St. Mary’s Street, thought of as one of the city’s most charming that runs from St. Mary’s Church to the Long Embankment and the Medieval St. Mary’s Gate. The pedestrian-only street is easily navigated, and during a stroll you can see just how writers and painters have been inspired over the centuries to create their masterpieces. Create a masterpiece of your own and snap plenty of photos to make memories.
Built in the 1300s, the Grand Mill is a series of 18 waterwheels, each 16 feet in diameter; its construction is considered exceptional for the time. Serving as a storehouse and a bakery as well, the mill was modernized in the first half of the 19th century, and in operation through the end of World War II.
The oldest parish in Gdańsk’s Old Town is St. Catherine’s Church, built 1227–1239. The church was expanded in the 14th century, and was a Protestant place of worship between 1555 and 1945. More recently, a 49-bell, 15-ton carillon was created between 1989 and 1998. Inside you will find paintings by Anton Möller and Izaak van den Blocke and Johannes Hevelius’ tombstone.
The symbol of Gdańsk is the Neptune Fountain, which has stood in front of the Artus Court since 1633. Designed by Abraham van den Blocke and cast in bronze in 1615 by Peter Husen and Johann Rogge in Augsburg, the sculpture on which the fountain is based represents Neptune; various sea creatures were added when the base of the fountain was renovated in the second half of the 18th century. Legend has it if you throw a coin into the fountain, you are tempting fate to lead you back to Gdańsk.
A terrific way to remember your time in Gdańsk is with a classic souvenir — amber. The Capital of Amber (considered the Baltic’s gold), Gdańsk hosts its annual St. Dominic’s Fair which dates back to the 13th century on the last Saturday of July; the fair is a terrific place to find the perfect souvenir. But souvenirs can be found in shops throughout the year, so ease your mind knowing you can still find a piece of Gdańsk to take home with you anytime.