Gdańsk is one of the oldest Polish cities with over thousand years of history. It lies on Gdańsk Bay at the mouth of the Motława river and is part of the Tri-City agglomeration. Being an old town Gdańsk stands out with an impressive number of monuments, and apart from modern estates outside the city, the entire Gdańsk centre indicates a thousand-year history of Poland. The city ranks sixth in Poland in terms of the population number and is considered as the important cultural, economic and political centre, as well as the important transport node for its seaport and rail freight. Numerous cultural and economic institutions have their registered offices in Gdańsk and there are 15 high education facilities.
There is a significant number of cultural centres including museums, theaters, cinemas as well as an opera and a concert hall. The most meaningful cultural institutions are as follows: Wybrzeże Theatre, Miniatura Theatre, National Museum, Central Maritime Museum or Historical Museum. Gdańsk is also an important choir centre. Many festivals are held in Gdańsk, among others the famous St. Dominic’s Fair and Shakespeare Festival. Social science and cultural associations conduct their activities, i.e. “Cavitas Christiana”, Amber Association, Gdańsk Scientific Society, Maritime League and minority associations: Ukrainian and German. Sports activities are considerably carried out by 17 sport clubs. Gdańsk is also characterized by its perfectly organized public and ship transport and Rębiechowo Airport. Tourists can benefit from the White Fleet services which organize commercial cruises to Westerplatte and Gdynia. While exploring Gdańsk one cannot forget to visit Oliwa quarter, as well as famous organ concert and the contemporary zoo in Oliwa. On 13th October 2010, Gdańsk together with 5 different Polish cities went through the second stage of European Capital of Culture contest (unfortunately it did not win). Gdańsk is also one of the host cities for UEFA European Football Championship in 2012.
The name of Gdańsk were appearing repeatedly and was connected with numerous relevant events in the Polish history. First settlements in this region date from the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. The earliest days of the settlement date back to the 9th century, and around 980 a fortified town surrounded with walls made of earth and wood was established. People who lived inside this densely built-up structure took up crafts and fishing. Towards the end of the 10th century Gdańsk became the residence of the Duke of Pomerania; from here Adalbert of Prague, after baptizing citizens of the settlement, went to Prussia with his mission. XI and XII centuries are the most flourishing periods of the settlement during which the entire complex was enriched with streets, port and rebuilt walls. Trade and craft settlements outside city walls developed as well. Since the city was granted with charter in 1263, it was changing hands amongst Polish sovereigns and Teutonic Knights, was suffering slaughters, uprisings and statute changes until the defeat of the Order of Teutonic Knights in 1410. In 14th century Gdańsk was one of the main Baltic seaports, maintained extensive trade relations with European countries. It was the time of the development of crafts and ship building. The population grew and four administratively and developmentally independent urban organisms were functioning, i.e. the Main City (since the mid-14th century), the Old Town (charter since 1377), the Young City, the Osiek (founded after 1308). Yet the development of the city was constantly hindered by: the Order interfering in legislative, judicature and financial issues, the Order’s fiscal policy, the rivalry of the Order within the scope of the grain export, and obstructing contacts with natural resource base of the Gdańsk seaport – that is with Poland. In 1361, 1378, 1411 and 1416 anti-Teutonic uprisings were organized, and all were bloodily suppressed by Teutonic Knights. After Teutonic threat, the city was dealing with the Deluge and later on with Prussian influences. During World War II Gdańsk became famous for the Battle of Westerplatte and the Defense of the Polish Post Office.
In 1970 Gdańsk Shipyard witnessed events that contributed to further political changes across the country. In the summer of 1980 Gdańsk once again was the centre of long-standing strike which eventually resulted in talks between the Government Commission led by Mieczysław Jagialski, and Inter-Enterprise Strike Committee under the leadership of Lech Wałęsa. On 31th August 1980 so-called Gdańsk Agreement was signed which officially initiated democratic changes in Poland and the Independent Self-Governing Trade Union “Solidarity” was established.
Gdańsk can be described as a treasury from which tourists can derive knowledge about the history of Poland. Unfortunately, the major part of the Old Town was destroyed during the warfare in 1945, but thanks to the citizens’ efforts buildings have been rebuilt and attract visitors. The most important buildings are located in the Main City – the district regarded as the most representative for the city which lies between the Motława river, the Old Suburb and the Old Town. This is the part of the city centre where tourists can admire a number of historic tenements and sacred objects such as St. Mary’s Church, St. John’s Church, Gdańsk Royal Chapel, as well as secular objects such as Golden Gate, the Main Town Hall or Long Market.
The Old Town
9 city gates and 5 towers preserved in the Old Town in Gdańsk. A building of an old harbor crane is located between pylons of the Crane Gate. Now the crane functions as a part of the Central Maritime Museum. In Gdańsk one can see many beautiful historic tenements with the most outstanding ones – The Golden Tenement, Uphagen’s House, English House, Bench House and other famous objects. Last but not least characteristic and distinctive monuments are the Artus Court, the Neptun’s Fountain in the centre of the Long Market, Great Arsenal, Prison Tower and Torture House, Trade Hall at Dominican square.