Motto: Nec Temere, Nec Timide. ("Freedom of Culture, Culture of Freedom")
Welcome to Gdansk for Euro 2012
In case you were wondering, it's pronounced exactly as it is spelt - 'ge-dansk' - which sounds a little bit like the sound the ball used to make in Pong when it bounced off a paddle. You can, though, also get away with the Anglo-German version of 'Danzig'. That should help you avoid any embarrasing taxi rides.
Whatever you do in Gdansk, definitely don't mention the war. The second world war was in fact triggered by a dispute over the ownership of Gdansk, and by the end of the conflict it lay in ruins. And like many fellow Polish cities, once the Germans were kicked out, many of the flattened buildings were painstakingly restored or rebuilt.
More recently Gdansk is known as the birthplace of Solidarity, the democratic movement that helped to bring down the communist government in Poland, and subsequently marked the beginning of the end of The Cold War.Famous For...
It's shipyard. And not just for the ships. A 1980 strike by 17,000 ship builders led by shipyard electrician Lech Walesa, who became the city's first post-Soviet president, saw Solidarity recognised as the first non-communist trade union in the then Soviet Bloc. It triggered the eventual collapse of communism across eastern Europe.
Places To Stay
- Qubus Hotel (right): Your up-market option for Gdansk, the Qubus was opened in 2009 and offers a unique view of the Motlawa River and the Gdansk Old Town. Also on the table: richly equipped rooms with a stunning breakfast and free internet access.
- Hotel Parnas: Not quite as expensive as the Qubus, this quiet, small and elegant hotel is run by an older local gentleman. Situated right in the heart of the city, rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated.
- Baltic Hostel: On a budget? The Baltic Hostel is a two-minute walk east of Gdansk Glowny train station and just 10 minutes on foot from the old town. Simple rooms in a one-storey building near the old shipyard area.
- Main City Hall (right): This is the place where many of Gdansk's plans unfolded, and the museum inside the hall includes some exhibits about the history of the city. There are also some pretty powerful photos of the destruction after the second world war.
- Solidarity Centre Foundation: Found in the converted bunker near the station, this musem is full of information on the event that made the city famous.
- Dlugie Pobrzerze: These are a set of stunning old houses that stand along the river bank. They can be nicely observed from the other bank of Motlawa.
Gdansk is sometimes called the Amber Capital of the World, on account of the precious stone being all around the city's surrounding areas. As a result the product can be found in many of the local shops, and are a popular item with tourists.
Famous Face from Gdansk
Gunter Grass. Another Nobel Prize winner from Poland, this time for literature. The German-born novelist also dabbles in poetry and art, but is most famous for his books, many of which hark back to his childhood in Danzig before he was turfed out like many Germans after the war.