This morning your guide will meet you just outside your cruise ship in Gdynia for your 45-minute journey to Gdansk (some ships dock in Gdansk). Upon arrival, begin with a visit to Oliwa, just a few miles from the Gdansk city center. This little suburb was originally established in the 12th century around the Cistercian monastery. Its main features are the cathedral, New Abbot's Palace with Ethnographic Museum located in 18th century Granary, and a beautiful park. We recommend a visit to the Oliwa Cathedral. Originally constructed in the 12th century, this towering cathedral has been destroyed and rebuilt several times in its history. The cathedral is perhaps best known for its massive, yet splendid organ. The main alter is also very impressive, but if the organ is in use, you're sure to be riveted by its magnificent sound!
Continue your drive into Gdansk, where your guide will take you on a walking tour of the historic central part of the city. Gdansk, or Danzig, as it was formerly called, is a city of charm and elegance, even though it is most known for its industrial shipyards and the popular movement by Lech Walesa that marked the end of Communism in Poland.
The thousand-year history of Gdansk is very complicated. Gdansk was German before WWII, but the city has belonged to Poland for 700 years with some breaks. The most important time in history of Gdansk is from 1454 till 1793, so called Golden Age. At this time Gdansk was the biggest and richest Polish town (one of the biggest in Europe). During this time Gdansk enjoyed the specific status of a municipal republic. It was also a melting pot of cultures and ethnical groups. Most of its citizens were speaking German. The air of tolerance and the wealth built on trade made culture, science, and art flourish. Today, works by outstanding Gdansk masters can be admired in museums, churches, and galleries. These collections, as well as the historic sites of enchanting beauty witness a thousand years of the city's continued existence.
You will enter Main Town, the historic city center, through one of the old entrance gates. The Upland Gates from 16th century mark the start of the Royal Route. You will see the most enchanting architecture of the 14th century, including the notorious Renaissance Torture House and Gothic Prison Tower as you pass through the Golden Gate on Dluga Street. Later, your guide will point out the unmistakable Town Hall in the center of the city. The history museum is located on the upper floors of the Town Hall and showcases life in pre-war Gdansk through an interesting collection of before and after photographs of the city as it appeared in 1945 and as it is today.
Your guide will take you on foot through this part of Main Town. It is here that you will see Arthur’s Court Hall, an impressive mansion built in the 14th century for the wealthy merchants of the city. Also here you will find the wonderful Neptune Fountain- the symbol of Gdansk. We highly recommend a visit inside the Arthus Court Hall, Town Hall or Uphagen House - all of them are branches of Museum of the History of the City of Gdansk. The time doesn't allow a visit to all three interiors.
Another museum worth visiting is the National Museum, housed in a former Franciscan Monastery. It features the most famous Hans Memling's painting "The Last Judgement" from the 15th century. If you are interested to see it our guide will take you there after visiting the Main Town.
As you exit Main Town you will pass through Green Gate, which was the former royal residence of the city for Polish Kings when they visited. One of the seven gates that connect Main Town to the Old Harbor on the Motlawa River is St. Mary’s Gate. It is this gate that will take you directly to Gdansk’s most beautiful street, Mariacka Street. Mariacka street is famous for its extraordinary silver and amber galleries…so let you guide know if you would like to take a shopping break here!
Definitely also make time for a brief stop at one of our favorite shops in Gdansk – Ciu Ciu. This tiny shop is operated by a former German hairdresser and his Polish wife. Together, they make excellent sugar confections and beautiful sweets. You can see their staff pulling the silky ropes of sugar to make their delicious candies.
At the end of Mariacka Steet you will find the stately St. Mary’s Church, founded in 1343, is one of the largest churches in Europe and is the largest brick church in the world. It is best known for its extraordinary Gothic sculpture. At the picturesque Motlawa River bank you will see the massive, 15th century Old Crane, which is now a museum containing a wooden elevator and granaries used at the port during its heyday.
There are a variety of excellent casual and fine dining options for lunch today. Simply advise your guide of your mood, and he will make a recommendation.
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