"Freedom, Solidarity and German heritage" Top 5 Page for this destination Gdansk by matcrazy1

Gdansk Travel Guide: 1,200 reviews and 3,617 photos

Unique and very special city

I visited Gdansk during celebrations of the 25th anniversary of Solidarity Movement in August 2005. The city really impressed me for many reasons.

Except, common in many old European cities, amazing architecture, great food, friendly natives etc., I've found Gdansk unique and very special city for at least two reasons:

1. It is a great place to study and think over both history of 20th century and the future, the place where the World War II broke out in 1939 and where Solidarity Movement was born in 1980, the movement which has begun the long and hard march to freedom for over 1/3 of Europe (until now), from former Eastern Germany to Ukraine and from Estonia to Georgia.

2. Being once German once Polish city in the past it's fascinating place to study German cultural heritage and both hard and easy (since 1990) relationship between the two nations and states.

City of freedom and Solidarity

I personally know people who were sentenced by communist authorities for 5 years in a prison for flying this flag in 1982. They were released from schools and universities and they couldn't get any job (their parents sometimes, too) but, despite many persecutions, they never lost hope for better future that time. So, when I saw hundreds of Solidarity flags all over Gdansk in August 2005 it was for me small but great symbol of victory over totalitarian Soviet communism, victory which had many fathers here and there, many victims as well, but at least not many mortal ones in Poland.

I visited many historical expositions in Gdansk. And despite my false historical education in communist schools (but right at home :-), I realised again, that the World War II which began in Gdansk on 1st September 1939 (in a district called Westerplatte) ended with victory exclusively for the USA and 1/3 of Europe (Western Europe). For Poland and many others countries of Central-Eastern Europe (1/3 of Europe) it ended with total defeat that was Soviet occupation. 1/3 of Europe still waits for its own Solidarity. That's why mamy Poles do not celebrate Victory Day (8 May - end of WWII in Europe in 1945) but 31st August (1980 - signing an agreement between Lech Walesa and communist "Polish" government in Gdansk shipyard which lead to creating Solidarity Movement - International Day of Freedom probably soon).

Gdansk was heavily destroyed at the end of WWII and it was robbed and burnt out by Soviet troops in 1945. Most of the old town, you can amaze now, was pretty rebuilt and reconstructed after WWII.

Fahrenheit, Grass, German heritage

Gdansk was German city before WWII and Polish one in the old past. I knew that Gunter Grass (German winner of Nobel Prize in literature) was born and lived in Gdansk. But I didn't know that Fahrenheit (German physycist) was born and lived in Gdansk, too. His scale of temperature is used in the USA and... Jamaica now and 0F was the lowest temperature he once measured in Gdansk.

It is fascinating for me to think over various and still often a bit different (less and less though) opinions of Poles and Germans about the city past. Never mind, Gdansk is the city of future especially since 1989 (the end of communism in Poland). Gdansk is fast developing and changing now but it preserved a lot of respect to the past, both Polish and German.

I got to know that Gdansk was the world's richiest city in the old past: the city gave over 5/6 of total income for the most powerful (add here France) country of Europe = world that time: Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Roads to Freedom exposition in Gdansk shipyard, German and Polish heritage, architecture, food
  • Cons:Crowded old town in summer
  • In a nutshell:Where freedom for half of Europe was born
  • Last visit to Gdansk: Aug 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (296)

Comments (49)

  • Roadquill's Profile Photo
    May 6, 2011 at 9:57 PM

    You will be the only Pszczynianin I know. I look forward to seeing you and Ursula again. Warmest regards from Malibu, Karl

  • Mel_H's Profile Photo
    Apr 26, 2010 at 12:07 AM

    Love the photo , walked past those two buildings on the opposite side had ice cream at the ouside deck of a cafe, the bridge opposite them to old town ,ships docked right across ,went to see where solidarity , lech and reagan met back in the 80`s.

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Jan 26, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    The Solidarity movement has so much steep history and brave courageous people to stand up for freedoms. Great explanations and pictures you took.

  • 807Wheaton's Profile Photo
    Jul 18, 2008 at 11:36 AM

    We visited Gdansk in September 2007 on our Princess Cruise. I'm still trying to get the cities we visited on VT - WOW! Your Gdansk page is great - and a great help. Thanks. Marcia

  • flyingscot4's Profile Photo
    Jun 22, 2007 at 7:23 AM

    Wonderful personal history. While the outcome was great, the struggle was brutal. Thank God for John Paul II, whose personal courage gave the people strength; and Ronald Reagan, who outspent the Soviet Union; and the Polish people.

  • Ekaterinburg's Profile Photo
    Apr 28, 2007 at 2:50 PM

    You must have explored every inch of Gdansk and I am enjoying accompanying you through the back streets and unvisited corners. Lech Walesa's house ?? Wow ! :))

  • Apr 8, 2007 at 10:43 AM

    just wanted to say thanks for the tower listings... We are in Gdansk 1 day as we are on a Princess cruise itinerary (we have every intention of returning by land in the future) We love get a birds eye view... Also, thanks for the tip on Artus Court.

  • margaretvn's Profile Photo
    Apr 1, 2007 at 3:54 AM

    Matt I am back again, this time to read your wonderful and very interesting albums. thank you for taking the time to share the "inside facts " with us

  • Mar 5, 2007 at 1:32 PM

    Coffee Heaven in Gdansk has the BEST CAPPUCCINO OUTSIDE OF ITALY. Shows the Poles are trying and succeeding. Why can't the French learn to make foam? PEACE LOVE AND COFFEE!!

  • evaanna's Profile Photo
    Mar 4, 2007 at 4:52 AM

    Fantastic page and a great history lesson. Never been inside Artus' Court and it looks superb. I'd rather not see a Polish grocery store or a phonebox of the 1980's again. Will be back to read more and admire your fantastic pictures.


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