GDANSK - NEIGHBORHOODS
Gdansk`s Old Town (Stare Miasto)
The vast majority of the tourist attractions to be seen in Gdansk are located in the Old Town (Stare Miasto in Polish). Out of the thirteen neighborhoods in the Srodmiescie (Downtown) district, the Old Town is northernmost. The Old Town is broken down into three portions: the northern end, called Oliwa Gate, the site of an ancient gate to the city; Osiek, a residential area; and Zamczysko, bordering the Motlawa River, where a Teutonic castle was once located. Only a portion of the 25,000 people who live in the Srodmiescie area live in the Old Town; most people who work in the Old Town are employed in the tourist sector and commute into town from other parts of Gdansk as well as from the other cities in the tri-city area, Sopot and Gdynia.
Of particular importance in the Old Town are such monuments as the Old Town Hall, the Polish Post Office, the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers, the Monument to King Jan Sobieski, the churches of St. Catherine and St. Bridget, and the main railway station, Gdansk Glowny.
Gdansk`s Main Town (Glowne Miasto)
South of the Old Town is the Main Town (Glowne Miasto in Polish). Out of all the neighborhoods in Gdansk, the highest number of attractions are based here. Unlike the Old Town, the historical feel of Main Town has stayed constant through the decades, while much of the Old Town was designed in a historical manner after the end of World War II. The Main Town is divided into three segments: Mariacka, Swietojanska, and Przedwale. The monuments in the Main Town include the Main Town Hall, Artus Court, Neptune Fountain, Ulica Dluga and Dlugi Targ, St. Mary`s Church, King`s Chapel, Church of St. Nicholas, Uphagen House, and a number of city gates, such as Bread Gate, Cow Gate, Golden Gate, Green Gate, and the Crane (home of the National Maritime Museum).
Nowe Ogrody and Grodzisko
Grodzisko and Nowe Ogrody are the two neighborhoods situated in the northwestern part of Srodmiescie (Downtown). The neighborhoods were first built in the fourteenth century, as a garden annex on the city`s hospital. The name Nowe Ogrody literally means `new garden`. The Grodzisko neighborhood is on top of a hill which used to house a fort. The Millennium Cross, built here to honor the arrival of the year 2000, stands on the exact site of a World War II anti-aircraft gun turret. The Hewelianum Centre is based in the neighborhood of Grodzisko.
Nearly 200 feet above sea level, the neighborhood of Biskupia Gorka sits on a hill southwest of the Old Town and the Main Town. From the seventeenth century until World War I, the hill was considered an important defensive spot in the protection of the city below. Biskupia Gorka is also perhaps known to tourists as the site of the public executions of the 11 Nazi guards which ran the Stutthof concentration camp, located just 20 miles from Gdansk.
Nowy Port and Westerplatte
The northern neighborhoods of Nowy Port and Westerplatte (pop. 10,000) were some of the last to be planned and settled in the Gdansk area. The Nowy Port area was planned by the Germans in the late eighteenth century, as the old port further down the river had taken up all possible lands for expansion. Now, Nowy Port is primarily a residential neighborhood, and tourists may find themselves in this neighborhood to visit the apartment block on Pilotow that was once the home of Lech Walesa, his wife Danuta, and their children. Westerplatte, a peninsula located on the Vistula delta estuary, was planned in the nineteenth century as a health spa and resort, and is the site of the Battle of Westerplatte, a clash between the Polish and the Germans which became the first battle of the European theater during World War II (September 1-7, 1939). A monument and cemetery are located on the peninsula today.
Only 3,000 people live in Mlyniska, a small neighborhood which is largely comprised of the old Gdansk Shipyard, the Gdansk Heat and Power Plant, and the European Solidarity Centre. The area called the Green Triangle (`Zielony Trojkat`) is a Soviet-era housing development where shipyard workers once lived; the areas called Ostrow, Mlode Miasto and Sklady are all industrial areas tied to either the shipyard or power plant.
Once the site of a Cistercian monastery, the neighborhood of Oliwa (pop. 19,000) is known for hundreds and hundreds of years of military history and invasions from neighboring armies. The Polish-Teutonic Order War in the fifteenth century saw Oliwa and its cathedral change hands, first to the House of Brandenburg, then to Poland, and later an attempt was made by Sweden in the seventeenth century. Within six years in the early nineteenth century, Oliwa was conquered by Napoleon and then by Russia. After all these years, and throughout all these conquests, Oliwa Cathedral remained, becoming a museum by 1927. One of the most noteworthy Polish naval battles was fought in Oliwa in 1627.
Northern Tri-Cities (Sopot and Gdynia)
Sopot is located seven and a half miles northwest of Gdansk, and Gdynia is located five and a half miles north-northwest of Sopot. These two cities, along with Gdansk, comprise the `tri-cities` of the Baltic Sea. Sopot and Gdynia are tourist attractions in their own rights, and if you have enough time while in Gdansk, you might be able to explore them in full.
Sopot is a health spa destination, well-known for its wooden boardwalk (the longest in Europe at three-tenths of a mile) and its summer international song festival, hosted here since 1964. Gdynia, with a quarter-million residents, is much larger than the resort town of Sopot; it is actually the twelfth-largest city in Poland. (By comparison, Gdansk is the sixth-largest.) Gdynia, a thriving port in its own right, was born out of the desire for the Poles to own their own Baltic Sea port outright, in the early 1920s. In 1970, an uprising of shipyard workers advocating for higher pay was ruthlessly suppressed and helped to contribute to the Solidarity movement which eventually swept the Gdansk Shipyard ten years later. Gdynia also hosts the Gdynia Film Festival, the largest in the country, and is home to the Polish Naval Academy.