Gdansk: The Most Surprising City by the Baltic Sea

Gdansk

It was more than a month after our return from Belgium back to our home in Lithuania, when we started searching for the destinations that we could visit not only in Lithuania but also in the neighboring countries. We took into consideration a lot of well-known cities of our region, till we decided to choose the one by the Baltic Sea in Poland – the city of Gdansk. And what do you think happened, Dear Reader? We were totally and completely amazed!

Gdansk is a more than thousand years old port city located both, at the mouth of Motlawa River and on the Gdansk Bay by the Baltic Sea. Since it is the biggest and the most significant port city in the country, it is also considered to be the maritime capital of Poland. Its significance, medieval wealthiness, and the previously discussed cultural diversity made it the city like none the others by the Baltic Coast.

Mix of Different Cultures

Gdansk
Marina of Gdansk.

Gdansk is a more than thousand years old port city located both, at the mouth of Motlawa River and on the Gdansk Bay by the Baltic Sea. Since it is the biggest and the most significant port city in the country, it is also considered to be the maritime capital of Poland. Its significance, medieval wealthiness, and the previously discussed cultural diversity made it the city like none the others by the Baltic Coast.

History of Gdansk is mixed and confusing, as also is its spectacular architecture. Once owned by Germans (Prussians), this medieval Polish stronghold had seen and experienced a lot. The most intriguing part of the Gdansk history was not so far back, during the interwar period. At that moment Gdansk was a free, autonomous city under neither Poland nor Germany’s government.  What is more, it was located by the so called Polish Corridor, the only narrow shore of the Baltic Sea that at that time Poland had. Poland’s, Prussia’s, Germany’s and even the city ruled by itself. How interesting the history of Gdansk is!

Gdansk is considered to have the most diverse ethnic composition among all the other cities in Poland. That’s why it is also considered to be the most liberal one and the one with almost completely un-Polish architecture. As much as wavy the story of the city was, diverse sources of cultural influences along with wealthy residents and merchants gave Gdansk the looks that most of the European cities could only dream of. The Main Town and the Old Town of Gdansk are big and continuous. What is more, they are big and spectacular!

Discovering Heart of Gdansk

Gdansk
Exploring the heart of the city.

We started our journey around the city from the heart of it – the Marina of Gdansk. This is where our hotel was and we couldn’t be happier with the location of our accommodation. Marina of Gdansk is a riverside by the Moltawa River lined with colorful tall merchant houses and maritime buildings. The iconic of them is the famous Crane which used to be the biggest medieval harbor crane in Europe. Nowadays it is the part of National Maritime Museum and one of the most usual landmarks on the postcards of Gdansk.

Strolling forward from our hotel, unexpectedly we were swallowed by the lively vibes of the most popular place in the city – the Long Market. Now, if we would have to pick one street that is the most spectacular among all the countries of the Baltic coastline, Long Market would be the winner. Starting from the Green Gate by the riverside, up to the Golden Gate at the end of the street, every house in Long Market is worth describing. Sadly, you there too many of them and if we would start doing it, you would probably lose your attention instantly. But I must mention you at least several of the most spectacular things there! Whole Long Market is framed with tall, but narrow merchant house, where everyone is decorated in a personal, but a really very beautiful way. The most significant monuments in this square/street are the Town Hall and the Neptune’s Fountain. These both landmarks are the symbols not only of the street but also of the whole Gdansk. And with those amazing merchant houses in the background, they both are the perfect spot for capturing the true face of Gdansk.

Gdansk
Some maritime stuff.

The best thing is that the sights don’t get any worse! If you go through the Golden Gate at the end of the Market, you will find yourself in the square next to the Amber Museum, that is housed in a spectacular medieval building with long and strong Prison Tower.

But let’s get back to the curly streets of the Old Town! In the parallel street to the Long Market, stands a majestic St Mary’s Basilica. I mean it – it is truly majestic! St Mary’s is considered to be the largest brick church in the WORLD! And no matter from which side you will try to reach it, you will surely be surprised. All the streets that lead to it are super charming! Though, for my personal taste Mariacka Street was the craziest. 😍

Caught in St. Dominic’s Fever

Gdansk
Gdansk is full of these charming tall houses.

By the time of our visit to Gdansk, the city was in the middle of annual St. Dominic’s Fair. It’s probably the biggest traditional celebration which dates back to the 13th century. August in Gdansk is all about St. Dominic’s. Half of the Main Town is conquered by traditional fair attributes – kiosks with various type of traditional food, souvenirs, clothing and similar type of items. The thing that we liked the most was the street all dedicated to the antiques and vintage flea market stuff.

Nevertheless, all this big and long chain of events was a surprise to us. What is more, since we booked an apartment in the city center, we faced the crowds of people and lines of kiosks at the same moment that we entered the city center. And I won’t lie to you, at first we were a bit disappointed because of St. Dominic’s fever that seemed to cover a major part of the beauty of the architecture. How will we take pics now?! But our biggest fears weren’t reasonable.

Fair took only half of the Main Town, and all the most significant beauty mentioned before wasn’t in any way disturbed. What is more, after some time around the majestic architecture, to get lost around the antique kiosks was quite a new way to admire the liveliness of the city.

Anyway, here both P. and I have something negative to highlight. If you have ever been driving through Poland, you have probably noticed how crazy and unstylish they are with their advertising. Outdoor commercials are everywhere, they are big, bright and most of the time – they look terrible. And though we are quite used to this, we were still sadly surprised to see this unstylishness in the most prestigious fair of such an amazingly beautiful city. What is more, the thing that really triggered me, was the 19th century Market Hall, known as Hala Targowa. The building of the market is superior, both from inside and outside, but the content itself looks cheap and branding of the shops inside took half of the building charm. In my opinion, sometimes it is better to leave such an authentic places alone, without modernizing it in a way that is popular now. The glass shops, brightly-colored ads, and clothing shipped from AliExpress.com doesn’t fit the classy architecture and once again that proofs that Polish aren’t good friends with style.

Full Package of Sights

Gdansk
Green one was our hotel!

Despite those several triggers, Gdansk left us the impression of the most beautiful city in the whole Baltic region. And the most interesting! The thing that is left unmentioned is that Gdansk together with a resort town of Sopot and the port city of Gdynia form a Tri-City, a combination of three interesting cities that are separated by only ~10 kilometers. When you are already full of sights of that spectacular architecture, you can go to chill in the beautiful Baltic beaches in a very charming and lively resort town of Sopot or to go nature-exploring around the locally famous Cliff of Gdynia. And when your vitamin sea reserves are full again, there are a number of parks, green squares, mansions and even more spectacular architecture left to be explored around the heart of Gdansk.

All in all, Dear Reader, Gdansk should be your first and the most important destination by the Baltic Sea. Trust us, you won’t find anything better with such a variety of things to see and experience anywhere around. As for us, we will definitely be back here!


Read more about the accommodation in Gdansk:

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