CITY OF FREEDOM
Get to know the thousand-year history of the beautiful port on the Baltic. Look Neptune, the god of the sea, in the eye and wave at the lady in the window. Take a walk down the Long Market and call at Artus Court. You can walk in the footsteps of the main character of Gunter Grass “The Tin Drum” or look at the stars of Hevelius. Get a taste of authentic revolution by learning about the origins of the birth of Solidarność.
In its “golden age” the city enjoyed the specific status of a municipal republic. It was also a melting pot of cultures and ethnical groups. The air of tolerance and the wealth built on trade made culture, science, and art. flourish. Today, works by outstanding Gdańsk masters can be admired in museums, churches, and galleries. These collections, as well as the historic sites of enchanting beauty witness a thousand years of the city’s continued existence. The break-through events of the most recent turbulent period are documented in the multi-medial exhibition: “Roads to Freedom” arranged in the shelter near to the National Commission of Solidarność. The exposition recalls the local struggle for freedom and justice, and the birth of the first Independent Trade Union, “Solidarity”. These developments ,triggered the avalanche that toppled communism in Europe.
A symbol of Gdańsk, the Neptune Fountain has stood in front of the Artus Court since 1633. It was built on the initiative of the mayor of Gdańsk, Bartłomiej Schachmann. The figure of Neptune refers to the bond between Gdańsk and the sea. The fountain was modeled by Peter Husen and Johann Rogge and cast in 1615 in Augsburg.
THE MONUMENT TO THE FALLEN SHIPYARD WORKERS 1970 AND EUROPEAN SOLIDARITY CENTRE
In December 1970, Gdańsk was the scene of anti-regime demonstrations, which led to the downfall of Poland’s communist leader Władysław Gomułka. During the demonstrations in Gdańsk and Gdynia, military as well as the police opened fire on the demonstrators causing several dozen deaths. Ten years later, in August, 1980, Gdańsk Shipyard was the birthplace of the Solidarity trade union movement, whose opposition to the Communist regime led to the end of Communist Party rule in 1989, and sparked a series of protests that successfully overturned the Communist regimes of the former Soviet bloc. Solidarity’s leader, Lech Wałęsa became President of Poland in 1990.
In 2014 the European Solidarity Centre, a museum and library devoted to the history of the movement, opened in Gdańsk.
ST. MARY’S CHURCH
St. Mary’s Church in Gdańsk, properly called the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the finest historical building in Gdańsk. Its construction began in 1379 and it took 159 years to construct this giant, in phases according to the growing technical possibilities and the wealth of the church community. St. Mary’s is one of the largest European Brick Gothic buildings, which include castles.
The oldest sources mentioning the Crane as wooden port crane equipment date from 1367. Its present look refers to the image of the middle of the 15th century. The first wooden crane totally burnt down as a result of the 1442 fire. A new crane was built in the years 1442-1444. The crane had a defence function, it was also used to put up masts and reload goods. The Crane was a city gate too.
Wisłoujście Fortress is an historic fortress located in Gdańsk by the Martwa Wisła river, by an old estuary of the river Vistula, flowing into the Bay of Gdańsk. The tower was assigned to control the passage of ships, traveling to and from the Bay of Gdańsk’s main port cities of Gdańsk and Gdynia. The Wisłoujście Fortress was target for military campaigns.
GDAŃSK SHAKESPEARE THEATRE
The creation of the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre in 2008 is one the most important events since Poland gained its freedom 25 years ago. The history of the theatre dates back to he year 1610, the year when, to our best knowledge, a building known as the Fencing School, where English travelling players performed works of English Renaissance theatre. In 17th century the building was converted and the first theatre in Gdańsk, Komediahaus (House of Comedy), took its place there.
The theatre, which bore a striking resemblance to London’s Fortune Theatre, includes many Elizabethan features.
Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre and Theatrum Gedanense Foundation organize Gdańsk Shakespeare Festival every year. The Festival aims at presenting and popularizing the output of William Shakespeare by presentation of his plays, but also by other means.
ST. DOMINIC’S FAIR
One of the biggest trade and cultural open-air events in Europe, starts in early September and lasts the entire three weeks. it hosts over 1000 stalls with antiques, flea market, craft articles & jewelry, souvenirs & artistic products, hobbyists and collectors stalls, various food stalls, both regional and foreign. It occupies most of the Old Town in Gdańsk and is divided into various areas. The fair apart from being a trading place is also accompanied by many cultural events, parades, fireworks shows, street artists, sports events & competitions. It has become an integral part of the city, both pride, and curse of the locals (imagine having stalls standing outside of your flat for three weeks straight and hordes of tourists blocking the streets). There is something there for everyone.
EUROPEAN SOLIDARITY CENTRE
Open on August 2014 on 34th anniversary of the signing of the August Accords, European Solidarity Centre stands next to the entrance to the Gdansk Shipyards. It’s as symbol of the peace and ideas of the Solidarity movement, of the power of people uniting in solidarity. Inside we can find permanent exhibition dedicated to the history of Solidarity and the opposition, which led to the democratic transformation of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. But the building features also a library, reading rooms and archives which are completely accessible to researchers and any interested reader alike. The conference rooms and other spaces, such as the winter garden on the ground floor, host debates and concerts serving projects of both the ESC and outside associations aimed at working towards the common good.