This blog post tells you about the historic Gdansk by the Baltic Sea. We stayed there for a weekend and were surprised how great history this more than thousand years-old town has. And that there were so many things to see!
We walked up and down the old streets of Gdansk. We also made trips out from the city, but in this blog post I’m telling you about the sights we liked best in Old Gdansk. I’m describing what we did in the Old Town and I also made a map so you can see where we walked.
The tour starts on the riverfront of Motlawa where the icon of the city, the Crane, is and ends in Mariacka Street in the Old Town. Welcome to Historic Gdansk!
Map of Walking Tour of Historic Gdansk
The Crane has been both a city port and a harbor crane. It was the biggest crane in the world lifting 4 tons (with muscle power).
The walking area between the crane and the river is called Ulica Dlugie Pobrzeze.
Dlugie Pobrzeze is a popular walking and restaurant street and there were street musicians playing at night on both sides of the Crane.
Walking along Motlawa River
This view is from the Crane. The modern house with a glass surface is the main building of the Polish Maritime Museum. Another part of the museum is in the old granary warehouse on the other side of the river.
The white house behind the museum is the Hanza Hotel where we stayed. It has a popular terrace on the river.
Here are some more views of the Dlugie Pobrzeze walking area along the river. There are many restaurants with an outdoor terrace. This probably is a popular place for evening life in the summer.
We crossed the Zielony Most to the island behind the Motlawa River. From the opposite side there was a splendid view of the old townhouses on Ulica Dlugie Pobrzeze and the riverbank.
In the middle picture you can see the thick round towers of the Crane and the last picture shows decorative Green Gate seen from the island.
The building was meant to be a royal residence but was used only once for it.
Lech Walesa’s office is in the northern part of the gate. Lech Walesa originally was an electrician in Gdansk shipyard.
Dlugi Targ used to be a marketplace and it formed a part of the Royal Route through Gdansk old town. Today there are many restaurants and cafes on the square and the locals meet in this beautiful place.
The narrow townhouses on Dlugi Targ have been restored after they were almost totally destroyed in the war. You couldn’t tell that these houses were built after 1945!
Fountain of Neptune
In the middle of Dlugi Targ and in front of Artus Court is the statue of the Roman sea God Neptune. The statue symbolizes the connection of Gdansk and the sea.
It’s told that Neptune invented the famous Goldwasser liquor. He disliked that visitors threw coins into the fountain around him and then smashed all the coins into small golden flakes. You can taste Goldwasser liquor in local bars and restaurants small and see golden flakes in the glass.
This light blue building is Artus Court on Dlugi Targ. It used to be the meeting place for the wealthy citizens of Gdansk. People came here to discuss and have a glass of beer. This kind of places for social activity were fashionable in Hanseatic Europe.
Like most other houses Arthus Court was destroyed in the war but afterwards rebuilt with great care.
The interiors are decorated with huge paintings that are very similar to the originals. They were scanned from photos of the original paintings with a tecnnique that was created by the Japanese.
In addition there are ship models, wood carving decoration and a 12 meter high Renaissance stove full of pictures.
Main Town Hall
This red brick building with a high tower is the Musem of History of Gdansk. In earlier times it served as a royal residence and as a town hall for which is was originally built, beginning in 1327. This was one of the finest town halls in northern Europe.
A highlight of the Old Town Hall is the Red Room.
Uphagen House is on Dluga Street that comes after Dluga Targ. The house has belonged to the Flemish Uphagen family and the interior is like it was in their time.
The house belongs to the Historical Museum of the City of Gdansk which makes it possible for anyone to see the luxury of and old Gdansk house.
Golden Gate at the end of Dluga Street looks like a Roman arch of triumph. Passing through the gate you leave the old town. On the walls inside the gate you can see pictures of the total devastation of Gdansk Old Town in 1945.
Right behind Golden Gate is the Prison Tower were prisoners sentenced to death were kept.
The tower is several stores high and you can see all kinds of prison equipment in the inner court and in old prison cells. But nowadays the main thing here is the Amber Museum.
In the Amber Museum you learn a lot about the origins and properties of amber which is an important natural resource in Poland and the Baltic states. You can see different shades and forms of amber that sometimes even has animal remains inside.
There are exhibitions on old and modern art objects made of amber. There were many steps to the highest floor of the tower were the contemporary jewellery was shown but it really was worth the climbing!
Leaving the Amber Museum and heading towards St Mary’s Church you’ll pass the impressive Great Armory building. It’s pink in color and the facade is ornamental.
Look at the details in this Dutch-style building! Currently the Academy of Fine Art is located here.
St. Mary’s Church
This church took 150 years to complete and it’s the largest brick-built church in Europe. The church doesn’t fit in any pictures but I got some nice photos of the white and airy interiors.
There are hundreds of pieces of art in this church, some examples above. There is a beautiful astronomical clock inside and a medieval sun watch outside.
You can climb 400 steps to the tower where you get a view of the old town. We didn’t do it since there was a holy mass at the time we visited the Church of St Mary.
Behind the Cathedral you’ll find more old streets. Altogether there are seven parallel streets that lead to the Motlawa river. Here most the houses are not painted but they look great despite that.
The houses on Ducha Street still have original big balconies in front of the house. The buildings have two entrances, one in the basement and another from the balcony.
In the park in the middle of the street you can see rows of old balconies from the time before the second world war. Here the houses were destroyed but not the balconies. But no worry, there is a plan to build the houses back right where they were. The Polish are so good in retaining the old.
Another street that has original balconies is Mariacka Street. This street leads from the Church of St Mary to Mariacka gate on the riverfront. This is a very beautiful street with houses that were owned by merchants selling gold, jewellery and amber.
There are still many shops selling amber and jewellery in Mariacka Street. And there are many street cafes and cozy pubs.
This is the end of this Gdansk walking tour. If you are interested in Poland travel you can check out my other posts on Poland.
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