The Old Town section of Gdansk is very beautiful. But the thing that surprised me about it the most is how it looks so much like Amsterdam without the canals.
I learned that Dutch Mennonites built the city and were a big part of the population from the 16th to the early 20th Century. They built the city to resemble Amsterdam. Neighboring Germany also played an important role in the development and architecture of Gdansk, which was once a German city under the name Danzig. Adolf Hitler used the loss of Gdansk to Poland as a pretext to attack Poland, which was at the time allied with France and Britain.
And so began World War II.
The city is also where the Solidarity movement against Communist rule began. That movement is said to have emboldened others in the Soviet Communist Bloc, three months later leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Much of Gdansk, particularly the Old Town, was destroyed by Russian and Allied forces who attacked German forces occupying the city. When Poland decided to rebuild the Old Town in the 1950’s and 1960’s, it made a political decision to rebuild in the Flemish-Dutch architecture instead of the Germanic-style construction. So today Old Town looks more like a town in the Netherlands than one in Germany. Gdansk does still have houses and buildings reminiscent of ones in Germany and can be found in neighborhoods untouched by Allied bombings.
To look at Old Town today one cannot imagine it has been rebuilt.
The reconstruction was done using the same bricks, painstakingly putting the pieces back together like a jigsaw puzzle. The place is truly beautiful, especially this time of year with the snow and Christmas lights.
I took a walk in a snowfall in the Old Town and these are just some of the images.
Click on the photo above to see more images I uploaded to my Facebook page.
- First Hitchhike Ever In Europe: Warsaw To Gdansk (miketendstotravel.com)
- Gdansk (slideshare.net)
- Gdansk, mother of all tri-cities (theegotripper.com)
- Solidarity In The Balance – December 14, 1981 (pastdaily.com)
- Call for more CCTV in Gdańsk (gdanskpolskapl.wordpress.com)