Gdansk is a remarkable city owing to its over 1000-year’s tradition, outstanding architectural heritage and historical significance. Over the past centuries it has always been inseparably related to the sea. Situated at the intersection of the routes running from the east to the west of Europe, as well as from the north to the south, Gdansk contributed to the development of the international trade and became a long-standing part of the Hanzeatic tradition. The city’s architecture constitutes a perfect composition of various artistic stiles: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Rococo and Baroque.
The Dluga Street and the Dlugi Targ Street
The Długa and Długi Targ Streets which are also known as Trakt Królewski (the Royal Route) rank among the most beautiful streets in Gdańsk. The wealthiest Gdańsk patricians used to live there and almost every tenement house has its own interesting history to tell. The oldest preserved houses date back to the Middle Ages, but most of the buildings were erected in modern times. Tenement houses on Długa Street are typical Gdańsk houses with narrow facades topped with gables or attics, richly decorated with coats of arms, allegoric figures and silhouettes of ancient heroes. The most important secular buildings – the Hall of the Main City and the Artus Court are located on Długi Targ Street.
The Neptune Fountain
The Neptune Fountain has stood in front of the Artus Court since 1633 and is a symbol of Gdańsk. It was built on the initiative of the Mayor of Gdańsk, Bartłomiej Schachmann. The model was prepared by Peter Husen and Johann Rogge, and it was cast in 1615 in Augsburg. The design of the whole fountain was prepared by Abraham van den Blocke. The ornamented grill surrounding the fountain dates back to 1634. In the years 1757-1761 Johann Karl Stender redecorated the basin and the base of the fountain in the Rococo style, by adding a large array of sea creatures. According to one of the Gdańsk legends it was Neptune himself, who contributed to the creation of the famous Gdańsk liqueur called Goldwasser. He got angry at people throwing golden coins into the fountain and hit the water with his trident so hard, that the gold fell to pieces, forming small golden flakes which now shine in the tasty herbal liqueur.
The Crane over the Motlawa River is the most characteristic and unmistaken symbol of Gdańsk. Back in the Middle Ages, it was the largest port crane in Europe handling cargo and putting up ship masts. It also served as an uncommon city gate. The reconstructed driving mechanism inside, still in working condition, is an immense wooden wheel originally propelled by men literally walking in it. Today the majestic Crane, a fine specimen of the historic port facilities, sets an excellent background for the rich collection of the National Maritime Museum.
The Oliwa Cathedral
This Holy Trinity, Blessed Virgin Mary, and St Bernard’s Church was first erected, as a Cistercian shrine back in the 13th century. Reconstructed in 1350 after a great fire, it re-emerged in the Gothic style and has remained almost unaltered ever since. The Gothic interior was extremely damaged in the 1577 fire and was replaced with the Baroque fixtures we can admire today. Structurally, the cathedral is a triple-aisle, vaulted basilica built on the plan of the Latin cross. The Oliwa Cathedral is 107m long, which makes it the longest church in Poland. Its splendid decorative gems include the Rococo organ, dating from the period between 1763 and 1788. The organ was manufactured by Jan Wulf and Frydryk Rudolf Dalitz and when built, the instrument was considered the largest in Europe.
The Amber Museum in the Fore Gate Complex of Długa Street, Gdańsk’s popular barbican, continues its pre-war tradition, alluding to the Gdańsk inclusion collection located in the Green Gate, which was lost during World War II. The latest unique specimen in the nature collection of the museum is the second, known in the world, inclusion of Solifugae in amber. In the collections of world museums you will not find such a specimen. In the recesses of the museum you can learn the history of the formation of “Northern Gold” and inclusion, the medicinal use of amber, see a display of how it is crafted and finally beautiful collections, including the most precious objects from the collection of Georg Laue, which were made in Gdańsk in the 17th and 18th century.
European Solidarity Centre
The European Solidarity Centre is important institution on the freedom trail in a new, experimental form: it is not only a museum dedicated to the history of Solidarity and anti-communist opposition in Poland and Europe, but also a centre of dialog in the modern world; a meeting place for people who are close to the values of liberty and democracy. The heart of ESC is a grand exhibition arranged, which narrative allows everyone to find their own meaning and emotions. Visitors from Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany also find their piece of history in the centre. But ESC is also a library, reading room and archives.