2019 Day 73 – Gdansk

With over a 1,000 years of history to its name, Gdansk was always going to be a special stop. Deemed as one of the fairest cities in Europe, there’s much excitement afoot as we trot in along the river.Gdansk is set along the waters of the old and new Motlawa rivers and canals, making it a key trade route, setting the scene for its prosperity through the centuries.Home to wealthy merchants, Gdansk enjoyed a long golden age, up until the advent of WWII when most of the city was sadly destroyed. It’s yet another Polish city which owes its resurrection to the dedication of its people and their determination to rebuild what was lost. We make our way to Dlugi Targ, the main street through the “Green Gate”, official entry point of royal visitations.Dlugi Targ was the path of formal processions – be they royal visits or those facing the long walk to the executioner.Stepping in through the city gates is immediate sensory overload – Dlugi Targ and its extension, Ulica Dluga, are lined with Gdansk’s principal buildings and many beautifully decorated townhouses with stepped frontages. Oh! So much to see!There’s the Town Hall, built in 1327,now a museum, Artus Court (blue building, below), a merchants’ and dignatories’ club,and the Golden Gate at the other end of the procession route.King Neptune overlooks the city’s water borne fortunes from its heart.Further afield, we see the art school and gallerythen walk along the river where St Dominic’s Fair, a tradition of craftspeople selling their wares over the first three weeks of August, has been held since 1260.Eventually lunch calls Himself to heel and we settle to delicate potato pancakes with mushrooms and sour cream (for me) and, as befits a seaside town, cod and chips for Himself.After lunch, we resume our tour: we see the Gdasnk Crane, built in the 14th century, it’s a mediaeval structure unique in Europe, performing the roles of both a city gate and a port crane.Entirely made of wood and operated by two men, it was capable of lifting 2 tonnes up to 90 feet. In mediaeval times – isn’t that incredible?As the afternoon progresses, skies become stormy rendering incredible lighting.There’s a replica war ship offering harbour rides and of course endless eateries and bars.Further afield we tour the Church of St Mary with its many spires.Building commenced in 1343 taking 150 years to complete. It contains a number of important works including this beautiful 15th century Madonna,a tablet of charity encouraging donations and good works,and another detailing the ten commandments.Yet further afield, we walk out of the old city to visit the Monument to the Shipyard Workers, honouring those killed in the strike and demonstrations of December 1970,and next to it, the European Solidarity Centre, dedicated to the history of solidarity, the Polish Trade Union and the Civil Resistance Movement.On our way back, we pop into the Church of St Catherine. Dating back to 1227, it’s the oldest church in the old town.Sadly, it’s been the victim of a recent fire and is in the process of a rebuild.We also take the opportunity to see the covered marketwhich also houses the ruins of an ancient, earlier church.All this running around calls for a fortifying snack. Polish cheesecake and a cherry vodka is just the thing,Himself can keep his beer. He’s shown below, pretending he doesn’t have a deep interest in my cheesecake. Which was divine, by the way. Light as a feather with a hint of orange zest. The Polish are famous for cheesecake.It’s been a deeply satisfying day – we’re both very taken by Gdasnk. It’s absolutely delightful.