Gdansk, an old Hanseatic port city, was heavily bombed in World War II, and known for the shipbuilders’ strike in 1980s.  Its history is complex (like many of the places we have recently visited) with times of self-autonomy but also domination by Poland, Prussia, and USSR.  On our bus ride into town we passed by older Soviet era apartment buildings and the shipbuilding areas for which Gdansk used to be known.

We took at walking tour around the old town.  We passed the Upland Gate (1588), the main city gate.  It was used for welcoming ceremonies for monarchs who came to visit.  The next gate/tower we passed through was at one time used as a jail with visible evidence of implements of torture.

Golden Gate is the second gate of the “Royal Walk” or Long Lane which ends at the Green Gate.  (The story our guide told was that this last gate was named Green because on the other side was where all the garbage and sewage went and the smell was so bad that one turned green!)  (No photos of the Green Gate.)  We were impressed with all the reconstruction that has happened since the War.  Much has been returned to the old style.

Neptune’s Fountain was constructed in early 1600s.  It was constructed in front of the Artus Court or the meeting place for merchants and the centre of social life.  It is topped by a statue of the sea god.  Many school children were also touring the city near the end of their school year!

Amber is one of Baltic Sea’s most prized souvenirs.  Gdansk has been one of the centers of the amber arts.  Amber is fossilized tree resin.  There are several colors of amber but it seemed as though the yellow/brown was the main color found here.  As our guide said—there are two types of amber – real and fake!  Fake amber sinks in salt water and real amber floats.

We had a lovely lunch in a Polish home.  The woman was an excellent cook but was unsure of her English.  Her father-in-law was there to do the talking.  He had worked with the Polish government and with the UN and had excellent English.  He also wanted to talk a lot of politics!

We ended our day at the Solidarity Museum, devoted to the Polish trade union and civil resistance movement.  It opened in 2014.  The walls remind one of the hulls of ships built at the Shipyard.  It provides a wonderful history of the movement and what it meant.



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