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Gdansk

Top architectural sightseeing and landmarks of Gdansk - ideas on city exploration routes

Gdansk Canal The main landmarks, such as St. Mary Church, St. Catherine Church, Town Hall, and Green Gate, attract thousands of visitors, who come to Gdansk from different parts of the world every year. Gdansk is incredibly rich in absolutely stunning landmarks and important historic sights. Wielki Mlyn, Monument to defenders of the coast, The Main Railway Stations, are true masterpieces of architecture and architectonics at the international level. It’s time to look at every landmark of Gdansk in detail from an unusual point of view – interesting facts with hi-res photos, enriched with a virtual flight over 3D copies of all the architectural monuments.

St. Mary Church, Gdansk

» St. Mary’s Church, also known as the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, had been built for 160 years (1343-1502). The church building is huge. The inside area is 190,000 square metres. It can fit 25,000 people. The temple is the second-largest by area, the first being the cathedral in Cologne.
»  Although the strict, dark-brick building has rather a gloomy appearance, it’s bright and spacious inside. Tall, slender columns go up to the vaulted ceiling.
»  During wartime, the main relics of the basilica were hidden in different parts of the city. During the restoration of the damaged building, they were brought back to their places.
»  The main valuables found in the basilica are an elegant altar (1510-1517) made by German architect Michael Schwartz, a statue of the Virgin Mary (1410), triptych The Last Judgment (1472) painted by medieval artist Hans Memling. Today, the temple possesses a good copy of the painting, while the original is kept in the National Museum in Gdańsk.
»  St. Mary’s Church is also famous for another unique rarity. It is a clock mechanism (1464-1470) displaying dates and lunar phases on the dial. Besides, at noon, it’s demonstrating the figures of the twelve apostles, three kings, Adam and Eve, and the symbol of death – as a reminder of the transience of life.
»  Visitors and tourists can climb 400 steps to the top of the bell tower to relish the view of the city.

St. Catherine Church, Gdansk

» St. Catherine’s Church was built during the reign of King Casimir the Great. In 1363, the building was expanded.
»  It was partly designed by artists Anton Möller, who painted several pictures (1585-1587) for the main altar, and Isaak van den Blocke, who presented the cathedral with a series of paintings (1611-1614). They had been preserved until 1945, when the altar burnt down during battles.
»  Johannes Hevelius, the famous Polish astronomer, was buried in the church in 1687. He designed telescopes and was the first to create a map of the moon.
»  In 2006, the church was caught on fire, which damaged the inside of the church badly. Besides, the roof and bell tower collapsed. The church is still being restored today.
»  Nowadays, there’s a branch of the city’s Historical Museum inside the church.

Town Hall, Gdansk

» The Main Town Hall was being built in the 14th century. The exact years are not known. It was supposedly built between 1327 and 1336 and reconstructed and renovated in 1454 to 1457. In 1457, King Casimir IV visited the city and presented the city authorities with a crown to the city’s coat of arms in recognition of its merits.
»  The fire that broke out a hundred years later damaged the Town Hall badly, so it had to be reconstructed. A new spire was also built, on top of which instead of a weather vane, a gilded figure of King Sigismund II Augustus was installed.
»  The Town Hall’s tower still has a sundial with the following words in Latin: “Days of our life are only a shadow”.
»  The interior preserved from the 16th-17th centuries still impresses visitors to the Town Hall. Before World War II, everything that could be hidden was hidden. So after the war, the Town Hall could be restored. It happened in 1970.
»  In 2000, a Dutch company made a carillon with 37 bells and mounted it on the tower. Today, the Town Hall houses a museum.

Green Gate, Gdansk

» The Green Gate was built between 1564-1568 by two foreign architects from Germany and Holland. The gate faces the sea.
»  Small bricks for construction were taken from Dutch ships where they were used as ballasts in bilges. There are several untold explanations why the gate is called green.
»  Architects had projected a summer residence for Polish kings but it was used only once. In 1646, Marie Louise Gonzaga, the bride of King Wladyslaw IV, stayed at the palace.
»  In the halls of the palace, fairs, banquets, and theatrical performances were held for the citizens. In the 18th century, the building seated the Nature Society.
»  During the war in the 20th century, the palace was almost destroyed. After the war, it was reconstructed and the National Museum of Gdansk was opened here.

New Town Hall, Gdansk

» The New Town Hall received its name only in 2000 when the building seated the City Council of Gdansk.
»  The building was built in 1901 as a German (Prussian) commandant's office. On the facade of the building, you can see an eagle, a part of the Prussian emblem.
»  Then, the building seated commissioners of the League of Nations.
»  During the Second World War, it was occupied by the gauleiter. After the war, the New Town Hall passed to the Committee of the Polish Workers’ Party.
»  Since 1957, the building has belonged to the student club “Jacques”.
»  In front of the New Town Hall, there is a monument to the Russian warlord of the 17th century who participated in the war with Turks. The monument was transferred from Lviv in 1950 as it was decided to demolish the monument there.

Wielki Mlyn, Gdansk

» Wielki Mlyn is an old mill built in 1350. It was constructed by Teutonic Knights.
»  It was quite a huge building at that time. It had 8 floors and an unusual plumb roof. In 1391, a fire occurred at the mill and damaged its exterior.
»  In 1454, the territory of the city went to the Kingdom of Poland.
»  In 1836, the Great Mill was reconstructed. New wheels were added, so now the mill has 18 wheels. A turbine was added too. The mill had functioned until the end of the war.
»  After the war, the mill had worked until 1991.
»  In 1993, the mill was restored and a modern shopping center was opened here. Some elements of the old construction have been preserved.

Monument to defenders of the coast, Gdansk

Location on the map:
Facts: » The monument to the defenders of the coast was placed in 1966. It is here that the Second World War began on 1 September 1939.
»  Early in the morning, the German battleship started shelling military warehouses. 200 soldiers had withstood the enemy’s attacks for seven days.
»  In honor of the defenders of the coast, barrow was created and a 23-meter obelisk made of 236 granite blocks was placed here. The obelisk is decorated with bas-reliefs and inscriptions. They were created by three architects: Henryk Kitowski, Adam Haupt, and Frantisek Dushenko.
»  Around the monument, there is a park where the Days of Remembrance are annually celebrated. In 2009, the monument was restored.
»  Near it, there are well-preserved barracks. One of the rooms houses museum exhibits. Here, the defenders of Westerplatte were buried.

The Main Railway Stations, Gdansk

Location on the map:
Facts: » The Main Railway Station is a major transport hub in Poland. The station was being built in 1894 when the territory of Gdansk (Danzig) belonged to Germany. Later, in 1900, the station and the tower were completed.
»  In 1945, they were destroyed during the bombing and battles. Only a water tower and a warehouse have remained intact. It was decided to restore the railway station in its original form.
»  The big semicircular window above the main entrance is draped with the reproduction of the “Last Judgment” triptych painted by artist Hans Memling in the Middle Ages (1472). The original is kept in the Gdansk Museum and is declared a national masterpiece.
»  Opposite the main entrance, there is a monument to Jewish children taken to England in time of war and saved from death. The Main Railway Station of Gdansk is an architectural monument.
»  What is interesting is that there is a similar station in Colmar, France.
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