Posted by: RasmaSandra | June 2, 2022

Amazing Gadansk

In our armchair travels we have arrived in Eastern Europe and will begin touring in Poland. Since I am revisiting the European continent having written about the European countries many years ago and so much has changed since that time in all respect to Ukraine and the Russian conflict I am not going to include either Ukraine or Russia in my rewrites however I do urge you to click on some of the posts I wrote about Ukraine previously and get to know about the country and how beautiful its cities were before the conflict.

The first city we’re visiting in Poland is Gdansk which is a port city on the Baltic coast. In German this city is known as Danzig.

Walking along the Motlawa River between two city gates along Ulica Dluga or Long Street and then Dlugi Targ or Long Market, the Royal Way first got thus designated when the King of Poland Casimir IV Jagiellon entered Gdansk in 1457. It begins in the west at the Upper Gate and ends at the Green Gate. The route is flanked by tall, narrow, patrician tenements that have been painted in various bright colors and topped with gables.

Stop by Dlugi Targ 44 got a photographic moment at the Artus Court, a Renaissance meeting place and stock exchange which is now a branch of Gdansk’s Historical Museum.

Just a few steps from there you will see an enduring symbol for Gdansk. Neptune’s Fountain is a Mannerist monument that was cast in bronze in 1615 but installed 18 years later. Abraham van den Blocke, the sculptor was originally from Kaliningrad but had Flemish parents. The sculpture on the fountain shows Neptune with his head slightly bowed as a sign of deference. Beneath him you can see ornamental fish and cherubs.

Just two doors down to the right of Artus Court you’ll see the building that is known as the most beautiful in the city, the Golden House, build for the Mayor of Gdansk, Jan Speyman at the start of the 17th century. The building stands out with its sculpted friezes, 16 busts on this pilasters that represent the Polish kings and the statues on top of its balustrade for Achilles, Antigone, Cleopatra, and Oedipus.

The Main Town Hall is the creation of a team of Dutch architects in the middle of the 16th century. 83 metres above street level is a life-sized gilded statue of Sigismund II Augustus, the king of that period. The impressive state rooms are in the Dutch Mannerist style. You’ll enjoy seeing the Small Council Hall, Great Council Chamber, White Hall, and Winter Hall all with gilded stucco, coffered ceilings, marble floors, frescoes, sulptures, and tapestries. From the observation gallery you can get a great view of the city and hear the 37-bell carillon chime on the hour.

St Mary’s Church is a large Gothic church dating from the 14th century and is among the three largest brick-built churches in the world. The church has a 66 metre long nave and can hold 25,000 worshippers. Some of the highlights are the astronomical clock dating from the 1460s, from the 1510s the high altar and the impressive Gothic stone pieta carved at the start of the 15th century. For amazing views climb the nearly 400 steps to the top of the 77.6 metre main tower.

Ulica Mariacka is a wonderful cobblestone street that begins at St Mary’s Church and heads east towards the Motlawa River and St Mary’s Gate. It is lined with narrow merchants’ houses that have little terraces at their entrances. There are restaurants that have tables in these spaces and often with ornamental reliefs on their low walls.

The Gdansk Crane on Motlawa’s Long Embankment dates from the 14th century and is an emblem for the city. This piece of machinery come from the time when Gdansk was part of the Hanseatic League. It could load and unload four tons of cargo and up to the 1800s the crane was also used as a waterside city gate. It is maintained by the National Maritime Museum and visitors can go in to see the wheels and see an exhibition about daily life and work in the port from the 1500s to the 1700s.

Museum Of The Second World War was opened in 2017 and stands on land that had been flattened during the war. There are 2,000 exhibits that were donated by families that were part fot he conflict and also many walk-through installations. Besides all this you can see two tanks, a Sherman M4 Firefly, and a Soviet T34.

Westerplatte a peninsula located on the Baltic Sea coast at the mouth of the Dead Vistula in the Gdansk Harbor channel from 1926 to 1939 was the location of a Polish Military Transit Depot. The depot withstood bombing from the sea and after seven days surrendered on September 7 during WWII. After the war one of the guardhouses was restored and made into a museum. At the highest point on the peninsula is a memorial to the “Coast Defenders” built in 1966 and made of 236 granite blocks rising to 25 meters.

Golden Gate at the western end of Long Street is a lovely Mannerist gate from the 1610s. The gate has a balustrade on its roof and on both sides four allegorical statues that represent the qualities of an ideal citizen based on classical cardinal virtues – on the west side Peace, Freedom, Wealth, and Fame, facing Long Street Harmony, Justice, Piety, and Prudence. These figures are on the top of four Ionic columns with golden capitals.

The Prison Tower dwarfs the Golden Gate and includes a museum about the gemstone – amber. Amber deposits in the Baltic are the richest in the world and amber helped fuel the city’s economy after a guild for this gemstone was established in 1472. Poland’s first museum dedicated to amber documents the gemstone’s history. You can also see an impressive collection of amber art from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The Jurassic Park-style “inclusions” show insects trapped in this fossilised tree resin for tens of millions of years.

Oliwa Catheral is located some ten kilometers northwest of the Old Town and dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries. From 1688 there is a Baroque portal at the entrance below two narrow towers. The nave, chancel, and 23 altars have paintings by Gdansk’s foremost artists of the 17th century. There are two main altars – the “Old” in the late Dutch Renaissance style from 1605 and the “New” from 1688.

Jelitkowo Beach is worth a visit when you want to relax located northwest of the Old Town. The beach has clean sand backed by a chain of parks. There is also a paved cycling path. There is a beach bar in the summer and for kids bouncy castles and trampolines.

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