This city sits right at the border between Poland and Germany. As with most such border cities, controversy and struggle have been the backbone of its existence. Welcome to Gdansk, the capital of the Polish Pomeranian Voivodeship County. For most of its medieval existence dating to at least a thousand years, Gdansk’s ownership has shifted between Poland, Prussia and Germany. It has also been an international city at sporadic stages.
Called by the name of Danzig when it was part of Germany in the inter-war years, this city was hotly seen as a major sign of Nazi pride. It was returned to Poland following the end of World War II. Since then, Gdansk has a pride of place as Poland’s most important sea port. This is made possible by its location. While this location has been its bane in a sense for a good part of its history, today Gdansk thrives mainly because of being situated in what is called the Tricity –a combination of three urban centers along the Gdansk Bay.
While it has had its share of fame for centuries, though not always for the best of reasons, it shot into international fame recently, when its shipyard became the cradle of the famous Solidarity Movement headed by Lech Walesa. This movement brought the highly entrenched communist regime crumbling down in not just Poland, but also set a chain of anti-communist movements across most of eastern and central Europe in the late 1980’s.
The visitor to this port city has lots to see. Several of its medieval buildings are a great treat to the tourist who seeks to peek into the past. Neptune’s Fountain in Long Street, which was completed in 1617; Town Hall Spire built in 1561; Royal Chapel of 1681 and Old Arsenal that dates to 1605 are the more famous ones.
Other landmarks include Royal Way, in which are situated some of the city’s most famous historical sites such as the Golden Gate, Long Street, Upland Gate, Torture House, Prison Tower, Green Gate and several churches.
Apart from over a dozen universities and world famous concert halls, Gdansk also hosts several international events.