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Gdańsk is a city with more than one thousand history. Very rich Hanseatic harbour was famous for centuries for its wealth and architecture. Gdańsk has an Old Town and a Main Town. These two parts of Gdańsk are confused with each other and usually tourists called “the Old Town” the area which being exact is the Main Town. The Main Town is richer in monuments and we will concentrate on this part of the city. The so called by tourist 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. It is an amazing place at all seasons. Nowadays, the tour around Gdańsk Old Town is a must when you visit Poland.

 

Top architectural attractions of Gdańsk Old Town

 

High Gate

This renaissance city gate was a main entry point to the city and marked the beginning of Gdansk’s Royal Route. Built in 1588 by Willem van den Blocke and up until 1895 is was part of larger fortified structure guarding the city. Today, however, Brama Wyzynna is a stand-alone historic landmark. Throughout the years the building undergone relatively little changes and for the first 290 years the gate remained in its original form. Brama Wyzynna is now part of Historic Museum of Gdansk and houses Tourist Information Centre.


Amber Museum

It was opened in 2000 and covers a few-centuries-long tradition of extracting and processing of amber in the area of Żuławy Wiślane. The museum is located in a unique Gothic-Renaissance Długa street gate vestibule and a prison tower. Amber museum exhibits the way amber is made, its properties as well the methods of extraction and processing and how they changed along the years. Apart from the museum tourist can enter the gate tower to admire Gdańsk panorama.


Green Gate

The Green Gate is the first example in Gdańsk of Dutch mannerism, a style that gave the city its characteristic beauty. It is probably the oldest water gate in Gdańsk, mentioned in 1357. The current Building was erected in the years 1564–1568 by Regnier from Amsterdam and Hans Kramer from Dresden, as the Gdańsk residence of the Polish kings. Along with the Golden and Upland gates, it was connected with Długa and Długi Targ streets, known as the Royal Route. Nowadays, it holds temporary exhibitions and is a place of meetings and conferences.


Golden Gate

A historic city gate built in 1612 by Abraham van den Blocke and Jan Strakowski at the end of Dluga Street and adjacent to late-gothic court of Brotherhood of Saint George. The Golden Gate is a classic example of Dutch mannerism with its over-emphasis on quality and sophistication. Each Façade ends with a sculpture-topped attic. The gate was largely destroyed during World War II and was rebuilt in late 50’s.


St. Mary’s Basilica

It is the biggest brick church in Poland and one of the most recognisable buildings in Gdańsk. With its sheer size it is towering over the old town. Its full name reads Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Basilica was built between 1346 and 1506 in Gothic form. In its history, it was both Catholic and Protestant church. Today, the visitors may marvel on the Middle-age décor of the interior.


St. Bridget’s Church

It is located in close proximity to the centre of the Old Town, right behind St. Catherine’s Church. The very first chapel in this place was built in 1350. One of the main attraction of the church, apart from its historic shape, is an amber altar (currently under construction). Its project is 11 metres high and 12 metres wide. At this stage, the composition covers 120m2.


Długi Targ Square and Długa Street

Długi Targ is a representative square in Gdańsk, in the downtown district. It serves as a market square, it is an extension of Długa Street, with which it creates the so-called The Royal Route. The characteristic spatial layout of the Długi Targ, which differs from the layout of the main town square typical of the Middle Ages, is known in the towns of the southern Baltic coast, located under the Lübeck law. It is situated on the west-east axis, towards the Motława coast, similar to most streets in Gdańsk. The longer frontages were built up with two-bay, and then three-bay townhouses with large halls. Medieval residential buildings with decorative façades forming the northern and southern frontage of the square were completely replaced in the 16th and 18th centuries with the modern one. From the west, the square is closed by the Main Town Hall and the Schumann tenement house, and from the east by the Green Gate.


Artus Court

It is one of the most recognisable buildings on Długi Targ street, where the first tenement houses date back to Middle Ages. It is situated by 44 Długi Targ Street and in front of this building we will also find one of the best well known Gdańsk’s landmarks Neptune Fountain. Originally the building was erected in 1348-1350 and its golden age was in the 16th and 17th century. During its history it was a place of gatherings, society meeting centre, commodity exchange and currently, it is a part of Gdańsk History Museum and it also performs representational functions. Tourists can explore unique mansion interiors and their design. They are partly historic and partly reconstructed. Arturian Mansion is one of the most recognizable historic landmarks of Gdańsk.


Neptune’s Fountain

Built between 1606 and 1633 in front of Artus’ Court on Dlugi Targ and facing towards tenement houses that were kings’ residence during their stay in Gdansk it is one of the best well known Gdańsk landmarks. Designed in the style of Flemish mannerism by Abraham van den Blocke and cast in bronze by Gerd Benning. The sculpture depicts Roman God of Water Neptune with the noticeable similarities to antique statues of Marcus Aurelius and Belvedere Torso. The fountain saw major restoration works in 1927, 1954 after the damage sustained during World War II and full restoration in 2012.


Old Town Hall

It is a Gothic-Renaissance historic landmark built in 14th century in Dlugi Targ – the very centre of Gdansk. Over the years the town hall was largely extended to accommodate a growing number of clerks and reflected rapidly growing local economy and wealth. The building saw two major reconstructions – after a 16th century fire and due to heavy warfare during WWII when the building suffered major damage and subsequently was scheduled to be demolished. Luckily and against all odds, the officials managed to reconstruct the landmark. Today, the building houses one of the divisions of the Gdansk Museum.


Uphagen’s House

It is located at the very heart of Gdańsk, at Długa 12 street. It is one of few 18th century tenement house open to the public. The building is named after one of the owners, Johann Uphagen, who purchased the building in 1775. Today, visitors can see living and utility rooms. On the first floor from the street there is a living room, the most representative interior of the house. The large dining room is located on the courtyard side, the panelling presents mythological and ancient themes, Roman buildings, the walls are lined with damask fabric. In the side outbuilding there are three small lounges with panelling decorated with representations of insects, flowers and birds. One of them served as a music room. On the second floor, the former bedrooms and a lounge are now used as temporary exhibition rooms.


Mariacka Street

Mariacka Street is undoubtedly the most delightful street in Gdańsk, with a completely reconstructed porch, perfectly reflecting the unique atmosphere and character of Gdańsk's old buildings. There are porches along the entire length of Mariacka Street, on both sides. They are an evocative testimony of former townspeople and patricians, their artistic taste, respect for art as well as exceptional sculptural (stonework), metalwork (grating) and woodcarving craftsmanship. Animal motifs alone, mainly gargoyles draining water from the gutters, create here a unique Gdańsk bestiary, the complement of which can be found high on the tops of the tenement houses. The past centuries, starting with the Gothic, have left their mark not only on the façades of generally narrow houses, but above all on those 'porches', under which the old basement rooms were transformed into small shops over time. Nowadays the shops mainly include famous amber shops.


Crane

Located in the very centre of Gdańsk on the Motława river. This wooden port crane is part of National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk. The crane is first mentioned in documents as old as 1367. This one, however, was built between 1442 and 1444 and was used to load goods, beer mainly, on ships cruising Vistula river. Tourists may visit three exhibitions, one on each floor, as well as admire the lifting mechanism.


Długie Pobrzeże Street

It is probably one of the most iconic historic landmarks in Gdansk. This entirely pedestrianized area along west riverfront of the Motlawa river dates back to 14th century when a number of separate wooden platforms allowed for easy transfer of goods to and from ships arriving in Gdansk. By 17th century the platforms were replaced with one unified structure and after World War II entire area was rebuilt in concrete and finished with marble. Alongside Dlugie Pobrzeze you will find some historic city gates, world-famous Crane, Hanza hotel, popular cruise ships and numerous small cafes and restaurants.


Great Armoury

The red brick renaissance armoury was built in 17th century due the growing threat of Swedish invasion. Designed by one of Gdansk’s finest architects Anthonis van Obbergen the armoury is Mannerist in style with sandstone decors and clear resemblance to Haarlem’s Vleeshal. The building burned down during World War II and was later reconstructed in 1947-1965 with some renovation works in early 2000’s. Today, the building houses parts of the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk.


Great Mill

It was built on man-made island in late 14th century by the Teutonic Order. The water-powered mill was in use up until the end of World War II, producing as much as 200 tonnes of flour daily in 1939. The building suffered major damage by the end of the war and it was not until the 60’s when the mill was finally restored. In December 2016 local authorities chose to transfer Gdansk Amber Museum to the now disused mill and since late 2018 the building is being restored and adapted to the needs of the museum. The Amber Museum is scheduled to reopen in the new location in mid-2021.


Shakespearean Theatre

It is situated in the very heart of Gdańsk Old Town at 50/51 Długa Street and it gives viewers opportunity to enjoy theatre in its Elizabethan version. The construction of the theatre took place from March 2011 till September 2014. Wooden, bright and warm interiors are created inside massive, modern, brick construction. The roof can be opened in 3 min and plays can be watched in open air. The theatre hosts maximum 600 spectators, depending on a stage and audience setup. Both stage and audience can be manipulated so, the stage can be either in the middle or on the side of the theatre. The building is a headquarters of the annual Shakespeare’s Festival. Still, it operates all year long as a versatile culture institution, educational institute and conference center. The usable area of the building is 8 000 square meters. A participation in one of plays is an unforgettable experience.


National Maritime Museum

It is located in Gdańsk at 9 - 13 Ołowianka Street. The aim of the museum is to collect and protect monuments related to shipping, boatbuilding, shipbuilding and fishing, and to disseminate knowledge about them, as well as about the maritime history of Poland and its economy. The museum has a number of divisions in Gdańsk. They are Granaries on Ołowianka island, S.S. Sołdek (first ship build in Poland after WWII), Crane (15th century wooden port crane), Maritime Culture Centre, Dar Pomorza (1909 Sailing Ship), Fisheries Museum, The Vistula River Museum and The Vistula Lagoon Museum. The Graneries on Ołowianka, being the main seat of the museum, are the most often visited. The exhibition here is set up on four floors of historic granaries accessible by ferry from the famous Crane.


Monument of the Fallen Shipyard Workers

The monument is situated in the square in downtown area, near historic Number 2 gate leading to Gdańsk Shipyard. Thee monumental, 42-metre high crosses commemorate the victims of changes in political system of December 1970 in Poland. The uneven, cracked surface is covered with relief picturing the life of shipyard workers. At the top, crosses are joined with anchors symbolising hope. Visits to the Three Crosses Square is usually connected with broadening the knowledge of Solidarity movement.


European Solidarity Centre

European Solidarity Center filled in and developed the place of “Roads to freedom” exhibition. The exhibition and the newly built museum are really impressive. The museum chambers are filled in with historic exhibits, modern multimedia equipment and artistic installations all about Polish aspirations to be a free country at the end of the 20th century. It is not a quiet place as while walking from exhibit to exhibit we can hear real historic recordings. The museum has seven main chambers at two floors of the new building. Sightseeing takes about 2h.


Gdańsk Shipyard

Over 1,000 fully equipped ships has been built here. Still, the place is much more famous for the events of 14 August 1980. On that day, in the morning hours the shipyard workers begun their strike. A strike that became a symbol of fight with Communism in Poland and marked the beginning of Solidarity trade union movement. Visitors may take either a walking or a bus tour of the former shipyard.


Amber Sky

It is an enormous ferris wheel in Gdańsk. It is located in the Ołowianka district, right next to a popular photo point with a huge “GDAŃSK” sign. The height of the wheel is 50 m above sea level. It is equipped with 36 air-conditioned and heated eight-person gondolas, including one VIP gondola with a glass floor. The ride takes approximately 15 minutes. Thanks to the wheel, visitors can admire the panorama of the historic Old Town with a mosaic of red roofs and perfectly captured symbols of the city: the Crane, St. Mary's Church, or the soaring tower of the town hall, as well as the golden Energa Gdańsk Stadium and the port and shipyard areas. In good weather, in the distance it is possible to see a long line of the Hel Peninsula.


WWII Museum

World War II began with Germany’s attack on Poland at the Polish military base at Westerplatte on September 1, 1939 and it’s therefore, appropriate that the remarkable WWII museum, opened in March 2017, should have been built in Gdańsk. A conflict that claimed the lives of an estimated 55 million people is a both a huge and complicated story to tell. The museum grounds cover almost 2.5 acres, while the building covers 26,000 square meters. In total there are over 2,000 exhibits on display spread over three narrative blocks: ‘The Road to War’, ‘The Horrors of War’, and ‘The War’s Long Shadow’. This is divided into 18 thematic sections, which is reflected in the layout of the exhibition rooms. Sightseeing of the museum takes at least 3 h.



National Museum

The National Museum in Gdańsk is one of the oldest museums in Poland. It was established by the merger of two institutions: the City Museum (est. 1870) and the Handicraft Museum (est. 1881). The core of the Museum’s collection is the collection of Jacob Kabrun (1759–1814), comprising several thousand pictures, drawings and prints by European masters from the end of the fifteenth to the beginning of the nineteenth centuries. The National Museum’s main building - a late Gothic post-Franciscan monastery - houses the Museum’s Department of Historical Art. The most famous work of art here is The Last Judgement by Hans Memling.

 

Summing up, Gdańsk is one of the most important and largest Polish cities. Its location and history make Gdańsk a very attractive tourist destination. You just cannot miss the historic city center, which still captivates with its magnificent architecture, unique atmosphere, top hotels and restaurants. Start your adventure still today, contact one of ITS Poland group specialists and find out the prettiest Gdańsk areas for yourself!


Author: Agnieszka Szwedzińska

Date: 28.12.2020

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