The multi-named Gdansk stands testament today to what a little spit and polish can accomplish. Like many Polish towns, Gdansk lay in ruins after WWII but now offers numerous sights for any interested traveller. Its beauty is matched by its many excellent restaurants, pubs, and night clubs: if you want some multi-fun, this is a good city to visit. In addition, learn a bit more at the many museums, soak up some visuals in the galleries, or relax with some music. 





Everything is in a name: this northern port of modern-day Poland began as ‘Gyddanyzc’, continued as Gdansk, converted to Danzig, and then reverted back to Gdansk. In that litany lies the story.’Gyddanyzc’ first appears in the story of Adalbert, an ill-fated but well-meaning bishop from Bohemia who hoped to tame the wild Prussian tribe living in the northern lands. They didn’t take kindly to his Christianizing ways and martyred him brutally in 997. Because they continued to plague the calmer residents in this region, the Polish king invited in some reinforcements – the Teutonic Knights – in 1226. The Knights proved effective: instead of wasting time on gentler methods, they simply wiped out the Prussians. They also wiped out the Poles when they took over Gdansk in 1308. The city was then renamed ‘Danzig’, resettled with Germans, and redeveloped into a mercantile powerhouse. It grew stronger, bigger, and better, crowning its success 50 years later when it joined the Hanseatic League.

But all was not well with the ruling Knights. Considered a decidedly unwelcome guest by now, the Knights failed to fend off the combined might of the Poles and company in 1410 at the bloody, bloody battle of Grunwald. Shortly thereafter in 1454, Danzig itself threw them out, earning the undying gratitude of the Polish king along with the more tangible monopoly on Poland’s grain trade.

From then on until the second Partition, Danzig remained a (mostly) independent city, growing into the greatest port in central Europe. Part of its strength depended on its culturally and ethnically diverse population: the Protestant Scots found refuge here, along with the Jews, and anyone else who failed to appreciate the religious repression rampant elsewhere in Europe. The Dutch and the Flemings also left their mark: the city’s (reconstructed) Old Town draws from their architectural influence, which gave it a cosmopolitan mix that settled well with its diverse population.

Despite its strength, Danzig fell prey to the partition-happy power of neighboring Prussia at the end of the 18th century. Following the Partitions, a time when Danzig followed the rest of Poland into decline, the city regained its independent status, coined as the ‘Free City of Danzig’, along with Poland in 1918. But unfortunately, it did not remain free for long. At the tip of the Polish Corridor which ensured that Poland had access to the sea, it stuck out as a likely target for an ambitious Nazi Germany, so likely a target that World War II began there. When it ended, around 10% of the city remained. Its mostly German population was expelled, the city handed back to Poland, and re-re-named Gdansk.

After a few quiet decades rebuilding the city and its shipping industry, Gdansk again hit the international headlines in 1980 when the Lenin Shipyard strike catapulted Lech Walesa onto the world stage and the labour union ‘Solidarity’ onto all sympathetic lips. The back and forth of the 80’s finally gave way to a conclusive strike in 1989: the Round Table talks began, and Poland woke up to another period of freedom.


Neptune’s Fountain
 Toping a Renaissance styled fountain, this 17th century Neptune sums up the essence of Gdansk: god of the sea, port to the oceans.
The Green Gate
In addition to Gdansk as a gateway to the seas, you can enjoy a number of land-based gates as well. The Green Gate passes through a 16th century palace intended for the Polish kings. Today, it houses the Monuments Renovation Lab, appropriately enough.
The High Gate
Also built in the 16th century (and fortunately still showing signs of its age), the High Gate originally welcomed visitors to Gdansk and now welcomes them to the start of the Royal Trail.
The Crane Gate
And for a gate of another kind, you cannot miss this 15th century crane. 30 meters high and rebuilt after WWII, it was the biggest in Europe for centuries.
City Hall
Also dating back to the 15th century, this Renaissance beauty (which now houses the History of Gdansk Museum) gained size and ornamentation in the succeeding centuries; its Red Hall is of especial note.
The Arsenal
A famous work of Opbergen, this Arsenal provides an excellent example of the Flemish touch to Gdansk.
The Torture Hall
Another Opbergen improvement, the Torture Hall earned its name and today imprisons the Criminology Dept. of Gdansk University.
ulica Mariacka
Take a stroll down Mariacka Street to take in the beauty of the buildings and their doorsteps.
 St. Catherine’s Church
The bells in this Gothic church rang on the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII, a fitting tribute for the city where it began.
 St. Mary’s Church
Towering over Gdansk, St. Mary’s stands today as testament to the city’s will. This largest of Poland’s churches, it was completely destroyed in WWII.