In the centre of Gdansk’s Old Town is the 13th century Długi Targ – Long Market. Was Freistadt Danzig, the city’s name between the two world wars, this picturesque?
Well, it didn’t look like this. Most of Gdansk was completely destroyed during World War II, and was rebuilt in the 1950s and 60s in a… well, I’m not sure exactly which style. There are narrow buildings in soft pinks, yellows, blues, greens; some decorated with paintings, some perhaps taking it a step too far. But even if it’s a tad overdone, it’s to be forgiven. This sweet, historic city on the Baltic suffered enormous losses during the war. The Battle of Westerplatte, the first clash in the invasion of Poland, took place just outside of town. This then is where World War II began.
In October last year, the girls and I visited Gdansk. We were there to see my brother/their uncle who has lived in this lively city for the last 6 years or so, after quitting his well-paid job, selling everything and going back to uni to study medicine. We jokingly call it his midlife crisis. On a more serious note, I don’t know how he has done it – don’t think I could jump into a 6-year full time course of study, in a completely new field, and having to learn a completely new language, too.
We’ve talked about visiting for ages, of course. But time flies, and suddenly he’s about to graduate, so it was now or never. Why we haven’t gotten around to it sooner… we have no excuse, really – it’s a mere 1.5 hour flight, at a negligible cost.
But enough about us. Here are a few Gdansk photos for you to enjoy.
The Old Arsenal, originally built in the early 1600s, was rebuilt after World War II:
Wandering around in a residential area, we stumbled upon this little guy…
… and these pigeons in a row looked like they were having a conference.
Gdansk is a port city, and home of the Solidarity labour union movement led by the legendary Lech Wałęsa. In the 1980s, Solidarity played a pivotal part in ending Communism in Eastern Europe and tearing down the infamous Iron Curtain.
The black structure on the left here is Żuraw, a port crane from medieval times:
Ahoy! This galleon can take you on a pirate cruise from Gdańsk to Westerplatte, giving a nice view of the harbour and the famous Gdansk shipyards along the way. We didn’t try the pirate cruise, but it comes recommended: fun for kids and adults – including hot chocolate and beer, respectively.
The spire of the impressive Town Hall at night:
Views from atop the excellent Muzeum Archeologiczne w Gdansku (Archaeological Museum):