Visit Gdansk, Poland
In Gdansk, history is around every corner, from times before World War II to important events happening under the communist regime. Rest assured, however, that not only history buffs will find Gdansk interesting. Beautiful architecture, proximity to the beach, cultural events, shopping centres and more make it a place where you won’t get easily bored.
Where is Gdansk and what to know about its history
Gdansk is located on the Polish Baltic coastline, in the Pomorskie province. Due to its location by the coast, it used to be an important seaport. Gdansk is also one of the oldest cities in Poland and it has quite a convoluted history, having bounced between Germany and Poland a few times since its foundation at the end of the 10th century. Due to the partitions of Poland in the 18th century, the city became a part of German territory (then the Kingdom of Prussia) and was known as Danzig. To fast-forward, Gdansk was twice a Free City – at the beginning of the 19th century and in the period between the two world wars. After invading Poland in 1939, Gdansk was again under German rule and it returned to Polish territory only in 1945. After World War II, Gdansk was among the most destroyed cities in Poland, so it underwent intense reconstruction.
Top places to visit in Gdansk
Gdansk has a lot to offer its visitors, but it will appeal to those interested in history. Below is a list of the must-see places in the city.
Explore the main town
The Old Town of Gdansk is home to some historical buildings and beautiful architecture, quite different from other Polish cities. Strolling through the Royal Way (or Długi Targ) is an absolute must while in Gdansk. Along the way, you will see some of the city’s highlights like the Golden Gate, the Neptune Fountain, the Golden House and Artus Court.
Visit the Main Town Hall
Located on Długi Targ is the city’s Main Town Hall, which houses a history museum – a perfect place to learn about the city’s history. It also has quite exquisite rooms that are worth a visit. If you’d like to get panoramic views of Gdansk, we recommend going to the top of the town hall tower. On a clear day, it’s even possible to see the Baltic Sea in the distance.
Step inside St Mary’s Church
Said to be the largest brick church in the world, St Mary’s Church is one of the main sights to see in the city’s old town. Although its interior is not particularly stunning, the church is home to an astronomical clock from the 15th century which is definitely worth a look. In addition, you can get some great views of Gdansk from the church’s bell tower.
Take a sobering trip back in time at the Museum of the Second World War
Since World War II began with the Battle of Westerplatte and the attack on the Polish Post building, which is a peninsula in Gdansk, there’s hardly a better place for the museum of the Second World War than Gdansk. It is an excellent place to learn about the events leading up to the war, the times during the war, as well as its aftermath. Be prepared for a lot of information and easily spending a few hours taking it all in.
Get insight into the modern history of Eastern Europe at the European Solidarity Center
This is one of the most interesting museums in Gdansk. Learn about Polish people’s fight for freedom and anti-communist movement. The exhibitions here look at the events that lead to the fall of the Soviet Block and explore the importance of the “Solidarność” Trade Union and Lech Wałęsa. Take note of the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970 which stands tall right next to the museum.
Learn about the gemstone from the Baltic Sea at the Amber Museum
Amber, a fossilized tree resin, is very popular in the Baltic Sea due to it having a big deposit of it. When strolling around the city center of Gdansk, you will see many shops and stalls selling amber jewellery. To learn about amber and ways of extracting it, we recommend visiting the Amber Museum. It also has a big collection of jewellery and other things made of amber.
Venture outside of the city
Remember that along with Sopot and Gdynia, Gdansk forms a Tri-city. The other 2 cities are also worth a visit and easy to access. Sopot is a popular beach spot with a long pier, while Gdynia has a Naval Museum and the preserved ORP Błyskawica ship. From Gdansk, you can also visit the largest castle in the world – the Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork.