Quick… What do you associate with “Gdansk”?
Until we visited recently on a Baltic cruise, we thought of the city as home to the shipyards where Lech Walesa rallied some 17,000 Polish workers in 1980 in a 17-day strike – giving rise to the Solidarity trade union and an anti-communist movement that triggered the collapse of communism in Europe.
We didn’t associate “Gdansk” with an Old Town that could be so pretty.
But the history of Gdansk stretches back many, many centuries.
Gdansk Old Town
Gdansk Old Town is hugely colorful – with fountains, gabled merchant houses with ornate doorways, one of the largest Gothic brick churches in the world, decorative gates, a waterfront walkway lined with cafés, and even a gigantic medieval crane.
Seeing Gdansk Old Town today, it’s quite unbelievable to learn that 90% of Gdansk (known at the time as the “Free City of Danzig”) was destroyed in World War II.
But Poland set about to restore its Baltic port city, and Gdansk Old Town was rebuilt during the 1950s and 1960s.
Now that we’ve visited, we no longer associate “Gdansk” just with its shipyards, the famous strike and the man (Walesa) who received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to free Poland from communism.
We also associate it with a beautiful Old Town.