Monday, March 7, 2016

Gdańsk, Poland

Gdańsk is in northern Poland, on the Baltic coast, and it is the country's principal seaport.  With more than 460,000 people it is the 6th-largest largest city but with around 1.4 million people in the metro area it is the 4th-largest metropolitan area in the country.

It dates back to 997 AD and gained city rights in 1263.  In 1997 it celebrated its 1,000 birthday!  Gdańsk was an important seaport and shipbuilding down in the late Middle Ages.  It was a member of the Hanseatic League in the 14th and 15th centuries.  After WWI it became the Free City of Danzig.

A couple of major events began here.  This is where Germany first invaded Poland at the Battle of Westerplatte, just outside of the city, which began WW2.

Solidarity, the first independent trade union, was born at the Lenin Shipyards and played a significant role in opening up the iron curtain.

St. Catherine's Church is the city's oldest church.  From 1545 to 1945 it was a Protestant church and then it became a Catholic church.  It is home to the worlds first pulsar clock.

The Old Arsenal was built between 1602 - 1605.  Today it belongs the the Gdańsk Academy of Fine Arts.

Construction on the historic Main Town Hall began in 1346 and was it was completed in the 15th century.  Today it houses the city History Museum.

The Golden Gate was built in 1612 - 1614 and was part of the old city fortifications.  Destroyed during the war, it was rebuilt in 1957 and restored in the 1990s.

The Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as St. Mary's Church, was built during the 15th century.  It is the largest brick church in the world and there is room for 25,000 people.

Neptune's Fountain is one of the city's major landmarks.  It was completed in 1633.

Żuraw on the river Motława is the largest port crane of medieval Europe.

This WW2 monument is to the defenders of Polish sites in Gdaňsk.

This monument at the main train station is to the Jewish children who were sent to Britain in 1939 without their parents in order to escape Nazi persecution.

The SS Sołdek was the first ship built in Poland after the war.  It is part of the National Maritime Museum.

At the former Lenin Shipyard is the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers which commemorates the victims of the December 1970 strikes.

This is also home to the European Solidarity Centre that opened in 2014.  The museum and library is very well done.

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