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Bricks are present everywhere in the Baltic Sea region. They are historical witnesses of the middle ages in northern European coastal countries. This heritage is highlighted in the European Route of Brick Gothic (EuRoB) project. It is a tourist route connecting 39 cities with Brick Gothic architecture in seven countries along the Baltic Sea, from Sweden through Denmark, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. EuRoB began as a project funded by Interreg back in 2002. Today, it is a cultural route of 1500 km along the Baltic Sea coast. Many of the cities joined by this venture have also a history as Hanseatic League city, and some are related to German Ostsiedlung or the Teutonic Order. On the trail, there are gothic churches, monasteries, gates, towers and town halls.

 

Most EuRoBu cities are located in Germany (as many as 26) but Poland is in second place. Route of Brick Gothic in Poland is present in 8 towns and cities: Chełmno, Gdańsk, Kamień Pomorski, Olsztyn, Płock, Stargard, Szczecin and Toruń. Toruń is of special importance here as due to its original Medieval urban layout and buildings it was also enlisted at UNESCO World Heritage List. Gothic lovers cannot also omit the second Gothic UNESCO World Heritage Site - Malbork Castle.

 

A typical feature of Gothic architectural style is, of course, the brick itself. Often bright red, it can also appear yellow, green or black-glazed. Brick Gothic buildings may also be painted white or even red, and the joints or pointing traced in white to create the illusion of a brick wall that is as seamless and flat as possible. An easy way to identify Gothic is to check whether the building’s windows or doorways have pointed arches, a feature visible, for example, on Paris’s famous Notre Dame cathedral or Cologne cathedral. These tapered windows and doorways are not only found on Gothic churches, but also on town halls or city towers.

 

The technique of baking red bricks was brought to the Baltic Sea region from Italy in the 12th century. This novelty was a bliss to northern European countries where commonly used building material such as stone and timber were running low. This technique was distributed among some 200 towns of the Hanseatic League. Gradually, baked bricks became the prevailing building material and townscapes along the Baltic Sea flourished in different shades of red. As these buildings visually share characteristics widespread in other styles of Gothic architecture, the new style was called Brick Gothic.

 

Top Gothic locations visited by ITS DMC Poland tourists:

 

Gdańsk

The Old Town in Gdańsk is one of the prettiest and the best maintained Old Towns in Poland. Every year it is a magnet for uncounted masses of tourists. It is an excellent place to visit at every season of the year. One of the main advantages of Gdańsk Old Town is its concise size, everything is in walking distance, and a great cluster of historical buildings in this area. We will find here: St. Mary’s Basilica (the biggest brick cathedral), Churches of St. John, Nicholas and Bridget; Golden, Green and Upland Gates, Main Town Hall, famous Neptune Fountain, Artus’ Court, Great Armoury, St. George Brotherhood Mansion, Torture House with Amber Museum, Crane, Market Hall, and lots of other historical buildings at so called Kings Road which consists of Długa and Długi Targ Streets (long and Long Market Streets). Gdańsk Old Town is an amazing place at all seasons.

 

Toruń

Its Medieval urban layout is enlisted at UNESCO World Heritage List, is a well-known birthplace of a famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernius. Tourist can visit both a house of his parents and also Toruń planetarium to learn more about space. Toruń is also famous for its legendary gingerbread cookies. Tourists can learn how to make them in Living Gingerbread Museum. The city can also boast a leaning tower and Teutonic Knight Castle Ruins. Tourists will also definitely enjoy stroll in the Old Town during which they can admire historic tenement houses, gates, granaries and churches. An additional attraction is also a stroll along Philadelphia Boulevard along Vistula river bank and town walls.

 

Malbork

It is a picturesque town in the north of Poland about 60 km from Gdańsk by Nogat river banks. The main touristic magnet of Malbork is Teutonic Knights Castle of the Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem. The construction of the castle started in 1278 when the knights come to Malbork area. The city was called Marienberg then. This is why in 1997 it was enlisted on UNESCO World Heritage List. The interesting fact about the castle is that the construction of it started as early as 1278 and now the castle is the biggest brick construction of this kind in Europe. It was built for 40 years and during its construction 12 thousand rocks and 3.5 million handmade bricks were used. When you plan visiting Malbork Castle you should have about 3 to 4 hours of free time to see all three parts of it with a guide and then stroll a little bit on your own.

 

Chełmno

It is situated 47 km from Bydgoszcz (about 50 min drive), 44 km from Toruń (45 min drive) and 132 km from Gdańsk (1h 23 min). Citizens of this place boast that the town was built on 9 hills and that Chełmno has almost intact Medieval urban system with almost completely preserved system of town walls and towers. Moreover, from many places within Chełmno, visitors can admire outstanding views to the surrounding area. Among historic monuments the most distinctive include 5 Gothic churches, the Renaissance town hall, and many tenement houses among which the oldest ones come from the 13th century. Chełmno is also often called to town of lovers as there are two beautiful parks – Stare and Nowe Planty with many flower carpets and benches for all those who are in love, there is also a monument of lovers on a bench. Chełmno is truly picturesque town with numerous old buildings that is really worth visiting.

 

Szczecin

It is the 7th biggest city in Poland (about 407 thousand inhabitants) and after Tri-city the most important harbour city in Poland. The city can boast many historic monuments and is also a university and culture centre. The most popular sightseeing sites in Szczecin include: the Castle of Pomerania Princes. Gothic monuments include St. John’s the Evangelist Church, St. Jacob’s Cathedral, St. Peter and Paul’s Church and the Town Hall. 

 

Gothic style in architecture is as monumental and characteristic that it can not be overlooked by any means. For tourists, it presents objects that should be really behold. We invite all our groups and individual tourists to discover Poland along European Route of Brick Gothic and to admire the might of Medieval engineers and builders creating this outstanding constructions. If any of the above mentioned sights caught your interest, feel free to contact one of ITS DMC Poland specialists that will help you to plan and organize the best Polish trip.

 

Author: Agnieszka Szwedzińska

Date: 7.06.2021

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