wtorek, 4 listopada 2014

Two northern cities. Part two: Gdańsk

What do Polish Gdańsk and Dutch Groningen have in common? Both cities are the capitals of northern regions. You’ll find universities, bridges and historic old towns in both of them. But what will strike you the most is the architecture. It’s not even that surprising, when you realise that they are both Hanseatic cities. Tall and narrow houses, gothic brick churches and towers, impressive Town Halls. However, it seems to me that Gdańsk is a bit more vivid, more colourful, more cheerful.

I landed already after dark. After I arrived to the centre, I decided to walk the distance from the Upland Gate (Brama Wyżynna) to my hotel. And that was the best thing I could do! The evening stroll along Długa Street made me fall in love with this place immediately. Long rows of colourful buildings, beautifully illuminated. I always said that Kraków is magical, but at that very moment, Gdańsk stole my heart. I just arrived to the hotel, made myself comfortable in my cosy, pretty room and I already wanted to be back on the Long Market (Długi Targ). My stomach was also demanding some attention, so I went out to look for a cute, small restaurant. Although it was already quite late, I didn’t have much trouble finding a right spot. This city has so much to offer. 

I planned all the sightseeing for the coming two days. The Old Town, boulevard by the Motława river, the Old Mill… I simply could not stop taking pictures. Fascinated with everything I see I was not letting my camera out of my hands. At some point my hands started freezing. I needed to warm them up and mulled wine in Café Kamienica at Mariacka Street seemed like a perfect idea. While chilling in this cosy café, I was observing the street through the window. What an incredible place! It’s a relatively short and narrow street with wide stairs in front of each house. And along all the buildings there are tables with stunning amber jewelry. It’s a real amber paradise!

Before visiting the museums I bought a Tourist Card. It’s a great solution for everyone who is planning to see a bigger number of museums, galleries and/or moving a lot around Tricity. My lovely hotel was situated on the riverside, just few meters away from Granaries on the Ołowianka Island. I started my tour from there. The Granaries are nowadays the main exhibition area of the National Maritime Museum. Besides a big collection of maritime paintings, ship and boat models, you can find a lot of interesting information about sailing and seafaring, but also about Polish history. From the Granaries I took a mini ferry boat to the other riverside. Straight to the Żuraw, an amazing medieval port crane from the fifteenth century. 

After these maritime adventures I moved closer towards the Old Town changing the topic to bourgeoisie. The enormous building of the Town Hall is a must-see. Its spectacular interiors will astonish you with incredible decorating details, fantastic ceilings but also information about the rich history of Poland. The Uphagen’s House on the other hand shows how the rich citizens of Gdańsk lived years ago. I have to say that I was slightly disappointed with that last one. Although the Uphagen family came to Gdańsk from Flanders, there were no Dutch nor Belgian elements. From the House it's only a few meters to another interesting museum - the Amber Museum. Which also is a must-see. After all, amber is called the “the Baltic sea gold”. It fully deserves this name. The things people can make with amber are simply stunning. 

I was just about to call it a day, when I quite accidentally ended up by the entrance gate of the Gdańsk Shipyards. Since I was already there, I decided that I have to see the European Solidarity Centre. The new exhibition area has been opened only a few months ago. All the displays are dedicated to the history of the Solidarity movement, which led to democratic transformations in Poland and the whole of Central-Eastern Europe. I was never really interested in history nor politics, but I have to admit, that this place made a great impression on me. The events so important for my country are perfectly documented and presented in a very interesting way. I will definitely have to come back here with Maurice. And I’m pretty sure that he will not want to leave the Centre.  

Gdańsk has a lot to offer to its visitors. Not only the museums, galleries and monuments though. If you want to read about other attractions, check my blog again soon. 

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