The Tri-City area of Poland is a collective name given to the three coastal cities of Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot. The three cities are only a 25 minute drive from each other and due to their close proximity to each other then tourists usually visit all three cities when in the area.
One might be surprised to learn that the town of Gdansk has been a catalyst for two world shifting events in the 20th Century. Gdansk (formerly known as Danzig) was the flash point of Polish-Nazi conflict in the period leading up to the Nazi invasion. And in 1980, in Communist controlled Poland, a young worker from Gdansk, by the name of Lech Walesa became the figure-head for the worker’s organisation, Solidarity.
By demanding worker’s rights, Solidarity was responsible for causing the first cracks in the Communist regime and played a pivotal role in it’s eventual collapse. Today, Gdansk is a cosmopolitan sea port with many cultural events and festivals taking place all the year round.
The Old Town (Stare Miasto) is where the main attractions are concentrated and the best place to enter this area is from the Upland Gate.
The Golden Gate (Zlota Brama) marks the beginning of the Royal Route. Dating back to the 16th Century this gate would have been part of the city walls but today only the gate still stands (as does Florianska Gate in Krakow). Dluga Street (Ulica Dluga), which formed part of the Royal Way, is arguably the most picturesque street in Gdansk. Dating back to 1331 Dluga Street was the home of Gdansk’s elite town officials, bankers, ship magnates etc. The street still has an air of “money” about it as the beautifully decorated buildings can testify.
As you walk down Dluga Street the Main Town Hall can be found on the left hand side and it dates from the 14th Century. Once home to the famous astronomer Hevelius the building is now open to the public and is worth a visit if only to see the beautifully restored rooms (the Red Room is particularly stunning). Neptune’s Fountain is nearby and this beautiful fountain is considered to be the symbol of Gdansk. It is located in front of Artus’ Court (an impressive 16th Century mansion). During WWII the fountain was hidden from the Nazis and only returned to it’s rightful place in 1954. Executions also used to take place in this square centuries ago.
At the end of Dluga Street is the Motlawa river which leads to the Baltic. Here you will always find a variety of vessels moored, not to mention all the amber shops and nautical themed shops. Turning left you are confronted by the sight of the medieval crane or Zuraw. This was originally built in the 14th Century and subsequently rebuilt in the 15th Century after a devastating fire. The crane was used for loading cargo ships and was also used for ship construction.
Walking towards the crane, the second street on the left is St. Mary’s Street (Ulica Mariacki) and is arguably the most atmospheric street in Gdansk. The architecture is reminiscent of Amsterdam with ornate steps and guttering adorning each house. Some of the best amber in town can be found on this street. At the end of the street is St Mary’s Church which is believed to be the largest brick church in the world-it can hold upto 25,000 people ! If you’re feeling fit enough you can climb one of the towers to enjoy stunning views of the city and surrounding areas.