Gdansk – the Jewel of the Baltic Sea

The city of Gdansk lies on the southern coast of Gdansk Bay, on the coast of the central Baltic Sea. It is a city in the Pomeranian Voivodship of Poland. The sixth largest city in Poland, Gdansk is also an important seaport. In fact, it is often referred to as the Polish maritime capital. It has a population of nearly half a million people.

Historically, Gdansk has been the site of major events. For example, the Second World War began here. On the first day of the war, Nazi soldiers carried out a 15 hour long siege at the Polish Post Office. The free trade union in the communist bloc, Solidarnosc also started here.

In previous centuries, control of Gdansk switched back and forth between the Poles and the Germans. From 1919 to 1945, it was the Free city of Danzig. In medieval times, it was a Hanseatic League city.

Today's Gdansk throbs with economic and cultural activity. It is well geared for the tourist and offers plenty to make your visit truly worth your while.

Begin your tour of the city with the truly enormous Gothic St. Mary's Church. It is Europe's largest medieval brick church. A look down from the top of the church after a hard trek up its 405 steps offers a view that is truly rewarding - you can see the whole city from up there. Also, take a look at the astronomical clock.

The beautiful St. Mary's Street is lined with historic townhouses.

St. Bridget's Church was where Solidarity members took refuge and held secret meetings during martial law in the early 1980's.

The Gdansk Historical Museum is situated in the 14th century Main Town Hall. Its exhibit 'A Thousand Years in the History of Gdansk' is worth a look.

The entrance to Gdansk's Old Town is marked by the High Gate, which was completed in 1576. This gate is followed by the 17th century Golden Gate.

The main street (Dlugi Targ) through Old Town features the famous fountain of Neptune, which is perhaps the most photographed item in Gdansk. At the end of the main street is the 16th century Green Gate.

The Polish Post office, which was mentioned earlier, has a museum and monument dedicated to the bravery of the Polish postal workers who held out against the Nazi onslaught for a grueling 15 hours before succumbing.

The Solidarnosc Memorial is a must see for all visitors to Gdansk. This site is often referred to as the birthplace of the Solidarity movement and the events that took place here marked the beginning of the end for the former Soviet Union. It was built in 1980 in the memory of the shipyard workers killed here during a strike at the Gdansk shipyard in 1970.

If its great food you're looking for, then head to the Pod Lososem restaurant for some traditional Gdansk fare. If fish is what you like, then try the exclusive Tawerna for the finest fish in the city. If your pockets won't allow for such indulgence, then visit La Pasta or Primavera pizzerias.

As for accommodation, there is something for every pocket - from youth hostels to exclusive hotels - in Gdansk.

If you're in Poland, don't pass Gdansk up. Its warm environs, friendly people and rich culture will ensure that you get a holiday you won't forget!
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