Surprising Gdansk Facts That You Probably Haven’t Heard Of!

Gdansk is one of the most beautiful places in Poland! Located at the Baltic Sea, it has it all- amazing beaches, lovely Old Town, and all the features of the big city. Add to that low prices, multicultural atmosphere, and friendly people and you have a recipe for the awesome tourist destination! In this post, I am giving you the most amazing Gdansk facts that will surprise you!.

Gdansk Was A Part of Germany For Many Years

In fact, this city is just as German as Polish. It was incorporated into Poland after World War II, in 1945. Germans always wanted Gdansk because it was a strong city with access to the Baltic Sea. 

Gdansk is still a very popular tourist destination among German tourists. You can hear people speaking Deutsch all the time. It’s not really a problem for Gdansk’s citizens, as many of them can easily communicate in this language.

Because Gdansk was incorporated into Poland after World War II (in 1945), there are still many people alive who were born in Gdansk as German citizens.

It’s crazy, huh? 

Gdansk Is The Only City In Poland That Was ‘Free’ In The Past.

As Vatican City and Singapore, Gdansk was the city-state.

It was completely free and independent twice in history:

  • first in the 19th century (1807-1814)
  • then between World War I and World War II (1920-1939).

Gdansk loved its freedom but Poles and German didn’t… Both Poland and Germany wanted to incorporate this city into their countries.

What’s interesting- there are still many people (especially in Germany) who are trying to get back Gdansk. They want to separate it from Poland and make it a free city again.

Gdansk Set Poland Free From The Soviet Domination

When you ask an average Pole about Gdansk, the first thing they will probably say will be Solidarnosc.

Some of you may not be familiar with Polish history, so I will tell you little something about it: after World War II, against the will of the majority of Poles, Poland fell under the Soviet supremacy. It became a communist country, with some independence. But all the important decisions must have been approved by the Soviet government in Moscow, even though Soviets claimed that Poland is ‘free’.

Poles hated Russians and their domination. There were plenty of uprisings and revolts against the Soviets in Poland. And they all were bloodily suppressed. Until 1980, when the formation of the independent trade union ‘Solidarity’ (Solidarnosc) was founded in Gdansk. Under the leadership of Lech Walesa and support of Polish Pope John Paul II, Poland was free again in 1990.

But not only Poland- the whole Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Dream of Stalin’s communist world was finally destroyed. 15 new European and Asian countries were formed after the Soviet Union was dissolved, including Ukraine, Russia, Armenia, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldavia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

There are also 5 countries that weren’t a part of the Soviet Union but were under the strong influence of SU. These are Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria.

The whole world changed. And it all began in Gdansk…

World War II Began In Gdansk

German invasion of Poland started on September, 1st, 1939 by attacking the Free City of Gdansk.

Some Historians say that the first attack was in Wielun a few hours before the bombardment of Gdansk. But there is no proof of that.

World War II began in the North of Poland and then spread to the whole world. Gdansk was one of the most valiant cities during WWII. Even though there were less than 400,000 people living in Gdansk, they were fighting tooth and nail for their freedom.

Gdansk Is A Part Of Tricity Agglomeration

Tricity Agglomeration is one of the most developed, rich and well-landscaped regions in Poland. It has the population of over one million people.

As you can easily guess from the name, Tricity agglomeration consists of 3 cities:

  • Sopot
  • Gdynia
  • and, of course, Gdansk as its informal capital.

Gdansk is the only city with access to the Baltic sea in Poland that had its own, international airport. It is also the biggest city in the agglomeration with a population of almost half a million people.

Gdansk Has Many Different Names

The most popular famous German name from Gdansk- Danzig. But this city is also known as

  • Kdanzk,
  • Gyddanyzc,
  • Danczig,
  • Danczk,
  • Gdąnsk, 
  • Danzc,
  • Gdania,
  • Danczik,
  • Gdanzc
  • Danceke.

What is interesting- according to research, Gdansk is one of the best cities in Poland to live and work. According to Poland’s citizens’ votes, Gdansk has the best infrastructure, management, jobs with good salaries, and a good environment.

Many people move from other cities in Poland to Gdansk. And they usually don’t regret it. With access to the Baltic sea, Tricity is a great place to live.

There Are Many Legends About Gdansk’s Landmark- The Neptune Fountain

Neptune Fountains is one of the most recognizable symbols of Gdansk. It is a big statue situated in the heart of Gdansk’s Old Town.

There are many legends connected to Neptune Fountain. The most popular is the one about the ‘Goldwasser’, popular vodka from Gdansk.

It is believed that the people of Gdansk had so much money that they kept throwing golden coins into the fountain. They thought it would bring them luck. After some time, Neptune became very angry that his fountain is all cluttered. He splintered all the golden coins into a fine powder and turned the water from the fountain to vodka. And that is how the famous ‘Goldwasser’ was created.

There is another legend that says that once in a century, all stone creatures adorning the tops of Gdansk’s townhouses, come to life in Gdansk for one night. They are tasting all the delicious food and meet all the people they have been observing for so many years. It is believed that the leader of the feast is Neptune himself.

Gdansk Is Famous For The Beautiful And Unique Ambers

Poland is the biggest amber exporter in the whole world.

For those of you who don’t know what amber is- it is a fossilized tree resin. It has been appreciated for its natural beauty and color since Neolithic times. It is mainly used as a part of jewelry, but it is also popular in the medicine and cosmetics industries.

Here’s a very interesting legend about the Baltic ambers:

The origins of Baltic ambers are associated with the Lithuanian legend about Juratė, the queen of the sea. She fell in love with Kastytis, a fisherman. According to one of the versions, her jealous father punished her by destroying her amber palace and changing her into sea foam. The pieces of Juratė’s palace can still be found on the Baltic shore.

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Did you enjoy this post? Do you know any other interesting facts about Gdansk? Share your thoughts in comments!

15 Responses

  1. Pochodze z Leby, ale w Gdansku studiowalam i zakochalam sie w tym miescie. Mysle, ze szczegolnie dla studentow ma ono duzo do zaoferowania. Dzieki za cudne fotki. Nostalgicznie sie zrobilo 🙂

    1. Gdansk is beautiful! We were there few weeks ago, so photos are very recent. We are glad you like them. All the best to you in 2016 🙂

  2. I love travelling to new places and so my family. We make sure that we at least have one family outing in a year to show the beauty of the world to my kids. I once travelled to Poland for a seminar, but I had no spare time so I missed on Gdansk. I have heard a lot about it and the interesting facts mentioned here are add- ons for me. Top one on my wish list, thank you!

    1. Your welcome! We did our best and tried to gathered all informations from the Internet and books. Hope you will visit Gdansk in the future and you will fall in love with this city, just like we did :).

  3. I really like how social and warm and friendly Gdansk sounds.
    I’d definitely love to experience it for myself someday.

  4. nice article Karolina!
    I am a journalist living in Denmark and I would like to do a reportage with a person that was born in the Free City of Danzig, do you know anyone I could contact?

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My name is Karolina, I was born and raised in Poland. I love my homeland. Even though I’ve been to 50+ countries in the world I’ve never hesitated to make Poland my base!

My mission is to show you the beauty of Poland and help you plan your trip!

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