The Baltic Coast and Pomerania

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  • 1. Dwór Artusa

    Stare Miasto

    Behind the Fontanna Neptuna on Długi Targ, one of the more significant of the grand houses was constructed over a period from the 15th through the 17th centuries and is now a museum. The mansion was named for mythical English King Arthur, who otherwise has no affiliation with the place. This and the other stately mansions on the Długi Targ are reminders of the traders and aristocrats who once resided in this posh district. The court's elegant interior houses a huge, 40-foot-high Renaissance tiled stove, possibly the world's largest, a mid-16th-century masterpiece by George Stelzener. The mansion's collection also includes Renaissance furnishings, paintings, and holy figures as well as hunting trophies and models of tall ships suspended from the ceiling. The building was the meeting place of the Gdańsk city nobles.

    Długi Targ 43, Gdansk, Pomerania, Poland
    058-346–33–58

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: zł 10, Closed Mon. and Tues. afternoon, Tues.10–1, Wed.–Sat. 10–4
  • 2. European Solidarity Centre

    Opened in 2014, the center is much more than a museum. Yes, it does have a rather brilliantly done permanent exhibition telling the story of the Solidarity movement and the Polish roads to freedom—it is a great introduction to the country's contemporary history. But the center has another mission: to commemorate and keep the message of the Solidarity movement alive and current and to nurture its ideals of democracy, open society, and dialogue. The exhibition itself provokes the visitor to think and to participate. The center organizes conferences and educational programs, and has an impressive library. It also provides homes to several NGOs that are working toward the common good, freedom, and human rights. The building's interior is a beautiful space, an exciting piece of modern architecture that is strongly reminiscent of the industrial past. From spring through autumn, you can enjoy the panoramic views of the post-Shipyards area and Gdańsk Old Town from the observation deck on the roof. Sometimes, especially on important anniversaries, you may have a chance to meet the former Shipyard workers—participants in the democratic opposition movement—who will act as your guides through the exhibition and tell you their story (and Poland's recent history) in their own words.

    Plac Solidarności 1, Gdansk, Pomerania, 80-863, Poland
    58-772–40–00

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: zł 20, May–Sept., daily 10–7; Oct.–Apr., daily 10–5
    View Tours and Activities
  • 3. Filharmonia Szczecińska

    In 2014, Szczecin opened this magnificent new philharmonic hall, designed by Spanish architects Barozzi/Veiga of Barcelona. It stands on the precise spot where the old Konzerthaus used to stand before the war. The award-winning building will take your breath away: light and daring, it is nevertheless well-placed within its neo-Gothic context. Inside, it only gets better: the interiors are a perfect marriage of visual aesthetics and excellent acoustics. In addition to the Szczecin Symphonic Orchestra led by Rune Bergmann, Filharmonia hosts a succession of eager guest orchestras, ensembles, and bands, playing all kinds of music—the programming concept is open and versatile. The institution organizes numerous and varied educational programs for children, festivals, competitions and workshops. Visitors have been known to travel specifically for the purpose of visiting the Philharmonic for a concert, but you can take a tour usually every Tuesday and Friday at 5 pm (though you must ask at the box office for availability).

    Małopolska 48, Szczecin, West Pomerania, 70-515, Poland
    91-430–95–10

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tours zł 5
  • 4. Fontanna Neptuna

    Stare Miasto

    One of the city's most distinctive landmarks is the elaborately gilded, 17th-century fountain at the western end of Długi Targ. The fountain itself is perhaps the best-known symbol of Gdańsk, emphasizing its bond with the sea. It was sculpted by Peter Husen and Johann Rogge. The general conceptual design was developed by Abraham van den Blocke. The magnificent surrounding fencing was added in 1634. Between 1757 and 1761 Johann Karl Stender remade the fountain chalice and plinth in the rococo style and added a whole array of sea creatures.

    Gdansk, Pomerania, Poland
  • 5. Gdański Teatr Szekspirowski

    Stare Miasto

    Would you expect an authentic Elizabethan-style stage in Poland, at the Baltic coast, in Gdańsk? The story goes back as far as the year 1610, when a building known as the Fencing School appeared in the city. In addition to fencing classes, the School hosted regular theater performances, and even the first opera ever staged in Gdańsk. Similar in style to London's Fortune Theatre, it often hosted performances by visiting English theater troupes. More than 400 years later, the tradition has been revived in a beautiful building designed by Renato Rizzi of Venice. The architect says that there's no building like this one anywhere in the world. The architecture is very striking: on the outside, it matches the Gothic, darkened brick forms of its surroundings, so typical of Gdańsk. In contrast to the dark and serious exterior, the interior is bright and luminous, built in light-color stone and fragrant birch wood, and white walls are finished with meticulous attention to detail. In warmer months, the roof over the stage is open to the sky. The stage hosts performances of Shakespeare's plays, but not only that: it has a varied program of theater performances and concerts. You can also take a guided tour in English (tours are offered most days at 3 pm, but check the website for availability).

    Bogusławskiego 1, Gdansk, Pomerania, 80-818, Poland
    58-351–01–22

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tours zł 18
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  • 6. Katedra w Oliwie

    Oliwa | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The district of Oliwa, northwest of the Old Town, is worth visiting if only for its magnificent cathedral complex. Originally part of a Cistercian monastery, the church was erected during the 13th century. Like most other structures in Poland, it has been rebuilt many times, resulting in a hodgepodge of styles from Gothic to Renaissance to rococo. The cathedral houses a museum as well as one of the most impressive rococo organs you're ever likely to hear—and see. It has more than 6,000 pipes, and when a special mechanism is activated, wooden angels ring bells and a wooden star climbs up a wooden sky. Demonstrations of the organ and a brief narrated church history are given almost hourly on weekdays in summer (May through September), less frequently on weekends and the rest of the year.

    ul. Cystersów 10, Gdansk, Pomerania, Poland

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Museum closed Sun. and mid-Sept.–June
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  • 7. Kościół Najświętszej Marii Panny

    Stare Miasto

    The largest brick church in the world—and the largest church of any kind in Poland—St. Mary's is on the north side of ulica Piwna. The sanctuary can accommodate 25,000 people. This enormous, breathtaking 14th-century church underwent major restoration after World War II. Although it originally held 22 altars, 15 of them have been relocated to museums in Gdańsk and Warsaw. The highlight of a visit is the climb up the hundreds of steps to the top of the church tower. The church also contains a 500-year-old, 25-foot-high astronomical clock that has only recently been restored to working order after years of neglect. It keeps track of solar and lunar progressions, and it displays the signs of the zodiac. One of the loveliest features inside is a group of baroque statues of angels playing musical instruments.

    Podkramarska 5, Gdansk, Pomerania, Poland

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: zł 4 (church); zł 10 (church and tower), Tower closed Nov.–Mar., Church Mon.–Sat. 9–5, Sun. 1–5; tower Apr.–Oct. only
  • 8. Stocznia Gdańska and Pomnik Poległych Stoczniowców

    Stare Miasto

    Three huge and somber crosses perpetually draped with flowers stand outside the gates of the former Lenin Shipyards, which gave birth to the Solidarity movement. The crosses outside the entrance to the shipyards are the Pomnik Poległych Stoczniowców (Monument to Fallen Shipyard Workers), where striking workers were killed by the military police and soldiers in December 1970. On the monument, you will find fragments of Psalm 29 and a poem by Czesław Miłosz: "You who wronged a simple man." There are also plaques that commemorate the struggle, and a quotation by Pope John Paul II inspired by his visit to the monument in 1987: "The Grace of God could not have created anything better; in this place, silence is a scream." The monument stands close to the Shipyard's historic Gate No. 2 and the BPH room, where the Gdańsk Agreements were signed, starting the avalanche of political and economic transition in Poland. Somewhat ironically, it was the same transition—and a series of controversial decisions—that led to the shipyard's bankruptcy and downsizing. Now a private company, the shipyard is a fraction of what it used to be; however, there are some good ideas for revitalizing the land and the buildings. Part of the postshipyard area, referred to as "the Young City," is designated for housing, services, shopping, and entertainment functions. Already standing is the impressive European Solidarity Centre, telling the story of the Solidarity movement and Polish transformation.

    Plac Solidarności 1, Gdansk, Pomerania, 80-863, Poland
    058-772–40–00

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 9. Baszta Panieńska

    This defensive tower was previously a part of the medieval city fortifications that were otherwise destroyed in the 18th century. The responsibility of its defense belonged to the guild of tailors, who realized a difficult task by providing seven coats for Princess Anne. In honor of that deed, it was called "Baszta Siedmiu Płaszczy" (a tower of seven coats).

    Panieńska 47, Szczecin, West Pomerania, Poland
  • 10. Brama Królewska

    The magnificent gate was built shortly after Szczecin fell under the rule of Prussia, and its purpose was basically to show off Prussia's power. The gate, designed by Gerhard Cornelius von Wallrave and built between 1725 and 1728, shows a shield with the Prussian eagle, the chain of the Black Eagle Order, and a crown. Next to the gate, on the same square, a lone mast belonging to the steamship Kapitan Maciejewicz, from 1929, is a favorite photo opportunity.

    Szczecin, West Pomerania, Poland
  • 11. Brama Portowa

    Known previously as "Berlin gate" (Berliner Tor), this structure dates back to the years 1724 to 1740, when Szczecin was defended by a complicated system of fortifications. It is decorated with the personifications of Glory, and they are blowing their trumpets towards coats of arms of Friedrich Wilhelm I, king of Prussia, who purchased Szczecin from the Swedes in 1719.

    Szczecin, West Pomerania, Poland
  • 12. Brama Wyżynna

    Stare Miasto

    The historic entrance to the old town of Gdańsk is marked by this magnificent Renaissance gate, which marks the beginning of the so-called "Royal Route," along which the king passed through the city on his annual visit. The gate is adorned with the flags of Poland, Gdańsk, and the Prussian kingdom. Its builder, Hans Kramer of Dresden, erected it as a link in the chain of modern fortifications put up to frame the western city borders between 1574 and 1576. The brick gate was renovated and decorated in 1588 by Flemish sculptor Willem van den Blocke, whose decorations you can still see today.

    Gdansk, Pomerania, Poland
  • 13. Brama Zielona

    Stare Miasto

    The eastern entrance to the medieval city of Gdańsk is at the water's edge. Construction, supervised by Regnier of Amsterdam and Hans Kramer of Dresden, lasted from 1568 to 1571. This 16th-century gate also doubled as a royal residence. Unfortunately, the name no longer fits: the gate is now painted brown.

    Gdansk, Pomerania, Poland
  • 14. Brama Złota

    Stare Miasto

    Just behind the Brama Wyżynna, the Golden Gate was the second through which the king passed on the Royal Route. This structure dates from 1614, and combines characteristics of both the Italian and Dutch Renaissance. It was built to the design of Abraham van den Blocke. The stone figures (by Pieter Ringering) along the parapet (on the Wały Jagiellońskie facade) represent allegories of the city's citizens' virtues: prudence, justice, piety, and concord. On the Długa street facade there are allegories of peace, freedom, fortune, and fame—the pursuits of Gdańsk city over the centuries. Next to the Golden Gate squats the house of the St George's Brotherhood, erected by Glotau between 1487 and 1494 in the late-Gothic style.

    Gdansk, Pomerania, Poland
  • 15. Dom Loitzów

    The Loitz family was a mighty banking family, who traditionally sympathized with Polish kings, sometimes with unfortunate results. They never recovered the borrowed sums for a Royal Navy project of King Zygmunt August, due to his sudden death. Nowadays, an art school occupies their town house, which was built in the style of the late Gothic.

    ul. Kurkowa 1, Szczecin, West Pomerania, Poland
  • 16. Firebirds

    This colourful sculpture was created in 1975 by one of the most famous Polish sculptors, Władysław Hasior. It was originally planned to sit near the castle, but it caught fire just as it was supposed to be inaugurated. Years later, forgotten and falling apart in the park, the artwork was saved by fans from Wrocław, who collected and "arrested" the broken parts and agreed to give them back on the condition that the town of Szczecin would take better care of the masterpiece.

    Szczecin, West Pomerania, Poland
  • 17. Galeria Sztuki Współczesnej

    The third branch of the National Museum in Szczecin occupies an 18th-century palace called the Pod Głowami (literally, "Under the Heads"). Unfortunately, the interior shows nothing of its original splendor, instead, it offers somewhat cold design from the 1960s. White walls, geometrical iron crates, and smooth, ornament-free solid woodwork (softened by 40-some years of patina) create a stylish, though forlorn, space to enjoy modern art. Although the gallery owns an exquisite collection of modern Polish paintings and sculptures, the collection is not on permanent display. Instead, different temporary exhibitions take place.

    ul. Staromłyńska 1, Szczecin, West Pomerania, Poland
    091-431–52–42

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: zł 10, Closed Mon., Tues.–Thurs., and Sat. 10–6, Fri. and Sun. 10–4
  • 18. Katedra św. Jakuba

    The cathedral's first incarnation was built on this spot in the late 12th century and was later replaced by a Gothic, three-aisle church built between the 13th and 14th centuries. In 1456, the 390-foot tower and the vaults collapsed. The present tower dates back to late 15th century and holds one of the biggest Polish bells, the baroque "Saint Jacob." Each of the church's three aisles is of equal height, so light fills the vast, homogenous space. Partly rebuilt after World War II, the modest, white-walled interior includes a 14th-century triptych from Ciećmierz and a 15th-century Pietà from Lubniewice. The biggest stained-glass window in Pomerania is in the eastern wall. Since 2008, organ music festivals have been held here annually in summer.

    ul. św. Jakuba 1, Szczecin, West Pomerania, Poland
    091-433–05–95
  • 19. Kościół św. Jana Ewangelisty

    This 19th-century Gothic church hides remains of one from the 15th century—including its beautiful wall frescos—and a beautiful 18th-century pipe organ. The church once belonged to the Franciscan order; when they lost their holdings as a result of the Reformation in 1527, their buildings were turned into a hospital and a shelter for the poor. They retained that function until 1957, when the buildings were returned to the Catholic church. They are now home to the Pallotine order.

    ul. św. Ducha 9, Szczecin, West Pomerania, Poland
    No phone
  • 20. Kościół św. Piotra i Pawła

    The parish church of Szczecin was built between 1425 and 1440. Built of brick, with a simple white interior, it was remodeled at the end of the 17th century and turned into a late-baroque structure. On the ceiling, a fresco depicts the Holy Trinity. The church is situated next to a busy road, so it's filled with traffic noise and has, to be honest, seen better days. Outside, notice the Pomeranian tracery (brick ornamental decoration) and terra-cotta late-Gothic portraits of town burghers on the facade between the windows.

    pl. św. Piotra i Pawła 4/5, Szczecin, West Pomerania, Poland
    091-433–85–32

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