Posted on Feb 4, 2014 in Gdansk, Poland

Gdansk

Over the past thousand years, the venerable port city of Gdansk has known both tumult and prosperity. Its excellent coastal location and periods of religious tolerance, at least during the city’s Renaissance “golden age”, helped Gdansk become a wealthy trading center, a cultural melting pot, and an influential European city. A walk through its beautifully restored streets will give the visitor a good feel for this lovely Baltic city.

Now a city of nearly a half million people, Gdansk (called Danzig by the Germans) is Poland’s principal seaport and the center of the country’s fourth-largest metropolitan area.

Gdansk suffered massive destruction during World War II and was rebuilt during the 1950s and 1960s. Reconstruction emphasized the city’s Flemish-Dutch, Italian and French influences, while ignoring its Germanic past.

The city became known worldwide as the home of the Solidarity movement led by trade-union activist Lech Walesa which resulted in the end of Communist rule in Poland.

Gdansk is a popular vacation destination for tourists from inside and outside Poland. Most tourist attractions are located along or near Long Street and Long Market, a pedestrian thoroughfare surrounded by buildings reconstructed in historical  style and flanked at both ends by Gdansk’s elaborate city gates. This part of the city is sometimes referred to as the Royal Road, since it was once the path of processions for visiting kings.

The Blue Lion Center of Archaeological Education is a popular destination for children to learn about the medieval history of Gdansk. Another must-see historical site is Malbork Castle, a medieval brick fortress built by Teutonic knights. UNESCO’s World Heritage website calls Malbork “a unique, perfectly planned architectural creation, with no equivalent in gothic architecture.”

 

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