| GDANSK, Poland. The capital of Poland's "Pomorze" province, the city of
Gdansk is located at the mouth of the Vistula River on the Baltic Sea.
Much of the city's industry centers around shipbuilding and shipping. The
city has two main port areas. The older Nowy Port, or New Port, is a major
industrial center for shipyards, metallurgical and chemical plants, timber
mills, and food-processing facilities. The newer Port Polnocny, or North
Port, is Poland's largest maritime development project. It handles coal
exports and petroleum imports.
Gdansk has schools of medicine, engineering, and fine arts. The University
of Gdansk was opened in 1970. There are also many fine churches, museums,
theaters, and gardens as well as a maritime center, a concert hall, and an
opera house. Gdansk is part of the Trojmiasto, or Three-City, urban area,
made up of the towns of Gdansk, Gdynia, and Sopot. The city center, known as
Stare Miasto, or Old Town, lies on the Motlawa, a river that runs into the
Vistula 2 miles (3 kilometers) inland. In the city center there are Hanza hotel and Krolewski Hotel. Noteworthy buildings in Old Town
include St. Catherine's Church, sections of which date back to the 14th
century. Its interior is in the Gothic style. The town hall was built
between 1587 and 1595. The entrance hall has a bronze bas-relief of the
17th-century Gdansk astronomer Hevelius. Greatly damaged during World War
II, the city's buildings were later restored.
Gdansk was first mentioned as a Polish city in 997 or 999. It has been
called by the German name Danzig at various periods of its history. It was
granted municipal autonomy in 1260 and developed as a trade center. In 1308
the Teutonic Knights seized the city. Under their rule the city became a
wealthy member of the Hanseatic League. In 1466 King
Casimir IV of Poland regained the territory after a 13-year war. As thanks
for its loyalty, Gdansk was granted local autonomy by the king and expanded
greatly. It reached its peak during the Renaissance as the most prosperous
port on the Baltic. Its shipyards launched their first warship in 1572. By
1754 its population was 77,000, the largest of any eastern European city.
The Swedish wars of the 17th century halted the city's economic growth and
began its decline. If You are interested in visiting Gdansk please use our Gdansk hotels directory to find aprioprate accommodation for Your stay.
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In 1772 Gdansk was seized by Prussia, and in 1793 it became part of that
country. Its port trade quickly decreased. Except for about seven years
during the Napoleonic wars, when it was declared a free state, Gdansk
remained in German hands until after World War I. From 1919 to 1939 it again
had the status of a free city, under the Treaty of Versailles, with Poland
having administrative governance over it. German control grew stronger,
however, and in 1938 German dictator Adolf Hitler demanded that Gdansk be
given to Germany. Poland, backed by Great Britain and France, refused.
Hitler used this refusal as an excuse to invade Poland on Sept. 1, 1939,
beginning World War II. The city was returned to Poland in March 1945. Labor
unrest in the Gdansk shipyards in 1980 spurred the creation of the
Solidarity trade union, which soon led the push toward democracy in Poland.