May 12, 2011
Five Fantastic Sights in Gdansk
photoToday Margaret, one of our popular and highly-regarded Polish guides, tells us a bit about the best spots to visit in her lovely hometown of Gdansk.

Gdansk is a romantic and historic waterside city in the Baltic Sea area. It is a city-on-the-water with a beautiful old town and a modern feel. You can shop for amber or antiques along the river, stop for a seafood lunch at any one of its many restaurants, view sights significant to Gdansk's history from the medieval times to the 20th century, and much more.

Gdansk is full of sights, many of which deal with Gdansk's maritime history. Visitors can trace this history from the medieval crane that still stands on the waterfront to the gates of the Gdansk shipyards, which were the origins of a major political movement in the later half of the 20th century. Below I've listed five sights no visitor to my city should miss:

Harbour Crane: After you pass through the Green Gate at the end of Long Street, you will find yourself on the banks of the Motlawa River. The view from the bridge gives you your first impression of life on Gdansk's riverfront, but the medieval harbor crane immediately draws your eye. Looming over the water, this structure is a testament to Gdansk's historic relationship with the sea. The crane was built in 1444, which makes it Europe's oldest crane. If you walk under the crane, you can view its inner workings with its massive rope and gears.

Stroll along the banks of the Motlawa River to find charming seafood restaurants, amber and crystal vendors, shops carrying nautical wares, floating cafes, the Maritime Museum, and historic sea-faring vessels. Don't forget to take a small ferry boat to travel to the opposite side and sip beer in a private mini-brewery.

Long Street is where you will see the bulk of Gdansk's Main Town sights. Long Street is the cultural and historical heart of Main Town, where you will find many museums, works of architecture, cafes, shops, and photo opportunities.

St. Mary's Church is the largest brick church in the world. Don't forget to climb to the roof which offers unparalleled panoramas of Gdansk. Before you hike up the 400-plus stairs to reach the top tower, however, take a moment to enjoy the cool atmosphere of the church interior. Here you'll see relics from the past, including a wooden pieta, a 500-year-old astronomical clock, and a three-dimensional tryptic of the Last Judgement.

Last but not least, take a riksha and travel to the northern edge of Gdansk's Old Town known for having made history as recently as the last century. The Gdansk Shipyards were the location of a workers' uprising. Solidarnosc, or Solidarity, was the name chosen for the trade union formed by shipyard workers in Gdansk during the 1970s, which finally won governmental recognition despite severe persecution of its members. The workers' struggle is commemorated with a gigantic monument and smaller plaques placed around the courtyard outside the shipyard gates. This photo stop is a must!

If you’d like to talk to Margaret about more of her ideas for getting the most out of your time in Gdansk, you can contact her here: Margaret in Gdansk.

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