The first stop on my tour of Poland was the ancient harbour city of Gdansk. Founded in 1224, the city is rich on history and buildings from all ages can still be seen. During the Second World War, 90 percent of the buildings in the old town were ruined, but the buildings were later rebuilt in their original style.
The very centre of Gdansk is the Royal Road that goes from the gate Brama Wyzynna to the gate Zlota Brama. The road leads to the atmospheric shopping street ul. Dluga and the market place Dlugi Targ, where colourful houses from the 1600s can be seen on each side. The most photographed sight on the road is Neptune’s Fountain, which tells a story of how important the ocean has been to Gdansk in the past. The fountain is situated beside the city hall, which is also a famous sight.
As you reach the end of ul. Dluga, you walk through yet another gate, the Zielona Brama, and enter the harbour front at one of the channels of the river Martwa Wisla that leads right out into the ocean. There are plenty of things to see here, including some interesting architectonical masterpieces. The atmosphere here is relaxed and reminds me of a warm summer day at the channels of Copenhagen.
A contrast to the busy streets of ul. Dluga, is the smaller and more cozy Mariacka street. This is where the heart of Gdansk is. The street is quaint with its cobblestones, old burgher houses and numerous gargoyles. Here, you can enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the many small coffee shops or shop for local handicraft. The handicrafts include jewellery made from amber, unique clothing and beautiful ceramics.
One of the most important sights in Gdansk is St. Mary’s Church, a Roman Catholic church built in 1379 during the dark Middle Ages. While the exterior is extremely dark, the interior is surprisingly light and spacious with room for 25.000 people.
It’s possible to climb the tower of the church, which I decided to do and bought a ticket for just 6 zloty, which included entrance to the church. There are 400 steps to the top, which is a tough deal, especially because the tower winds most of the way. But the view from the top is worth the climb. From here, you can see the entire city of Gdansk and the surrounding areas as well as the interesting architecture of the church from above.
Since all the major sights are so close by in Gdansk, it didn’t take me long to see them all and I still had an afternoon to kill. I decided to go to the nearby seaside town of Sopot, which is known as “the rich people’s playground”. Sopot is famous for its 515,5 m. long wooden pier, which is the longest of its kind in Europe.
I spent a few hours relaxing in a park and walking along the beach. Even though I’m travelling alone, there are constantly people around me, so it’s really nice to actually be alone sometimes. I found the town to be very clean and bright with all the big, white buildings and it’s a great place to come to relax during a city break in Gdansk.
At the moment, I’m sitting at the train station in Warsaw, waiting to go to Krakow. I’ve spent the last two days walking all around Warsaw and seeing the most important sights as well as some hidden gems. I’m excited to explore Krakow for the next three days and hopefully the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Stay tuned for more posts about my time in Poland!