Idée #729 – Visiting Gdańsk, the Pearl of the Baltic, in Poland
Located on the Baltic Sea, Gdansk is the largest Polish port city. Archaeological studies attest to the existence of a village of fishermen and Pomeranian artisans from the 7th century. The first earthen fortification, a gorod, was established by the Duke of Pomerania around 980. The town was frequented early on by Viking and German traders. Gdańsk is first mentioned in 997, as Gyddanyzc urbs, in the History of the Mission of Adalbert in Prague, who unsuccessfully tries to introduce Christianity to Pomerania and Prussia.
Gedania obtains the statute of city with the right of Lübeck in 1224. In 1295, it passes, with its province, under Polish suzerainty. Ladislas I of Poland, attacked by Brandenburg, appealed to the Teutonic Order. On November 14, 1308, the Knights seized Gdańsk by driving out the Duke of Pomerania, massacred its inhabitants and annexed it, along with its region, to the Teutonic State. Danzig joined the Hansa in 1310, quickly becoming one of the main cities of the League.
The Knights of the Order enlarged the city in 1311 and fortified it in 1314. From the 13th to the 17th century, it was one of the most important places for the exchange of goods in traffic between the east, the north and western Europe. Gdańsk is nicknamed, therefore, the world capital of amber.
The city was annexed to Prussia during the second partition of Poland in 1793. It became the capital of West Prussia until 1919. On that date, the Treaty of Versailles made Danzig, then populated by a large German majority , a free city, which came under the control of the League of Nations from 1920. Poland was however responsible for the city-state in various fields, in particular as regards its foreign policy. In September 1939, the Polish garrison stationed on the nearby Westerplatte peninsula was bombed, before Germany occupied militarily and then Danzig.
At the end of World War II, the partially destroyed city was occupied by Soviet troops, the German population having fled or having been expelled. Following the conferences between the Allies, the city was again attached to Poland and officially renamed under its Polish name of Gdańsk. Historic buildings in the city center are being reconstructed, while new districts are being built closer to the Baltic Sea coast.
Gdańsk is considered the second city in Poland, after Krakow, for the importance of its historical and cultural heritage. The city still has beautiful buildings and monuments of Gothic, Renaissance, Mannerist and Baroque styles. Gdańsk remains today one of the most important examples of the Flemish and North German style in Central and Eastern Europe. The city is registered on the indicative list of the world heritage of UNESCO.
Where is it ?