Country: Poland Language: Polish Currency: Polish zloty (zl)
Gdansk is the largest city in northern Poland, sitting on the Baltic coast. Its Old Town features some of the most beautiful buildings in Poland. Gdansk provides a perfect weekend getaway to indulge in Polish culture and cuisine. When visiting Poland, you must try pierogis! These dumplings come in varieties of sweet and savory and are traditionally enjoyed with a dollop of fresh cream. If you are interested in eating traditional foods, then you may also want to try Polish kielbasa, sauerkraut, and beet soup. While in Gdansk, you also have the opportunity to shop for classic Baltic Amber; there definitely isn't a shortage of amber shops in the Old Town. Gdansk's atmosphere is very relaxed, making it the perfect place to unwind and get away from everyday life.
CTW Must See
Long Lane is the first part of Gdansk's Royal Route, an iconic walk through Gdansk’s Old Town. The Golden Gate sits at the top of Long Lane. It was originally built between 1612 and 1614, but was completely destroyed during bombings in World War II and was reconstructed in 1957. There are four figures located on the Prison Tower representing peace, liberty, fame and wealth. On the other side, the sculptures represent wisdom, piety, justice and concord. The sculptures there today are remakes of the 1600s versions. Only a few of the buildings along Long Street survived WWII, and those few buildings still display their original mouldings and sculptures.
Gdansk Town Hall
At the center of the Royal Route sits the Town Hall. Its origins date back to the 1300s, but it was much smaller then. The Town Hall, like most of Gdansk, was badly damaged in WWII. Once the war ended, reconstruction of the Town Hall took place. The Gothic style building, with an 82m tall tower, is now the History Museum of Gdansk. Just outside of the Town Hall, at the start of Long Market, you will find the Neptune Fountain, a historic fountain built in 1633.
Just behind Neptune Fountain lies Artus Court, which was completed in 1350. Named after King Arthur, the court was a place for many social gatherings and royal exchanges. Like most of Gdansk, Artus Court was severely damaged during the war and has since been rebuilt. The interior, including the 11 meter tall furnace decorated with 520 tiles featuring European leaders, was also redesigned using materials that were removed from the city before the war.
Long Market is the final part of the Royal Route. This street has been the entrance for much prominent Polish royalty, as well as the town center, and a place to hold social gatherings. The tall buildings on either side of the market provide a beautiful backdrop for any happy snap, to make all of your friends at home envious. See our post on how to take better photos to make sure you capture the best shot! At the end of Long Market sits Green Gate. The gate connects Long Street, Long Market, and Golden Gate to form the Royal Route. Green Gate was originally built in the late 1560s, and was constructed to become a residence for Polish monarchs, though no monarchs lived here. After WWII, the walls were the only part of that gate that remained. It was rebuilt and now acts as a National Museum.
Motlawa River Embankment
The embankment along the Motlawa River is just through the Green Gate. You can enjoy a stroll along both sides of the river, allowing yourself to appreciate the vibrant buildings of Gdansk’s embankment. Dlugie Pobrzeze is full of restaurants, cafes and shops selling amber. The Embankment holds some of Gdansk’s most historic buildings such as; the Zuraw Crane, which acted as a city gate and fortification tower of defense; the SS Soldek, now a museum, but once a cargo ship that hauled cargo all over Europe; and the Green Gate. The Amber Sky sits on the other side of the river and provides beautiful views overlooking Gdansk.
St. Mary’s Cathedral & Mariacka Street
After a short walk along the embankment, you will find Mariacka Street, another beautiful street full of tall, colorful buildings. At the other end of Mariacka Street sits St. Mary’s Cathedral. Construction of this large cathedral began in 1343. It is said to be one of the largest brick churches in the world! The tower stretches 78 meters to the sky, and is a prominent feature of Gdansk’s skyline. St Mary’s Cathedral was also damaged in 1945. The roof burned down, causing major damage to the church's interior. Reconstruction to the church took place immediately after the war ended, but reconstruction works are ongoing.
The Royal Chapel was originally built in the late 1670s and is the only Baroque church in central Gdansk. Even though it is over-shadowed by the historic St. Mary’s church, it is hard to miss and hard not to admire. Sadly, during World War II, the church’s interior was damaged by a fire, with the only remains being a few of the paintings on the dome. The church was restored soon after the war, but was not completed until 1996. Just in front of the Royal Chapel sits the Four Quarters fountain, featuring four very lazy-looking lions!
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