The City of Gdansk is a grand city with a thousand years of Polish-German history and a proud past as an independent free city and a founding member of the Hanseatic League. The Port of Gdansk's Old Town is home to the world's biggest brick Gothic church. The city's Port of Gdansk shipyard is also home to the world-famous Solidarity movement and its leader, Lech Walesa, both of them often credited with bringing an end to Communism in Eastern Europe. The Port of Gdansk holds many historic landmarks and fascinating museums, and a medieval crane that still stands at the waterfront. For details on the many things to see and do in the Port of Gdansk, please visit the city's tourism website.
The Port of Gdansk has a temperate maritime climate with clearly distinct seasons. Its winters are cloudy and cold with somewhat severe weather, and its summers are mild with frequent thunderstorms and showers. Its weather can be damp, quickly-changing, and sometimes harsh. Cold windy early springs in the Port of Gdansk lead to warm sunny summers. Autumn begins warm and ends foggy and cold. Winters last from December through March and bring periods of snow. Temperatures range from an average high of 20 °C (68 °F) in July and August to an average low of -4 °C (25 °F) in January and February.
One of the area's most important attractions is located at Malbork some 50 kilometers southeast of the Port of Gdansk. The Malbork settlement grew up around the Castle built by the Teutonic Knights in the late 13th Century. The Great Master of the Teutonic Order, Siegfried von Feuchtwagen, moved to Malbork in 1309, and the village became the Teutonic capital. Development of the castle spanned 40 years. It was surrounded by moats and high walls, and it is now considered Europe's biggest Gothic fortress. In 1997, UNESCO recognized it as a World Heritage Site. The Castle in Malbork is a classic example of a medieval brick castle. Located on the southern bank of the River Nogat, it was carefully restored in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Many of modern restoration techniques were developed there. UNESCO recognizes that Malbork Castle is the most complete and elaborate example of a Gothic brick castle complex in the style of the Teutonic Order, and it is unlike other European and Near East castles from the same period. It represents the dual nature of Christianity in the Middle Ages, with extremes of violence and sanctity. It was a prototype for many Teutonic castles in Europe as well as other Gothic buildings in the region. It is the most important remnant of the monastic state of the Teutonic Order and a reminder of the Crusades in Eastern Europe, the forced conversion of the Baltic peoples, and the colonialization of their tribal lands.
The Malbork Castle Museum has both permanent and temporary exhibits that cover many historic, cultural, and scientific subjects. Permanent exhibits include an archaeological presentation about the culture of the early River Vistula culture, a history of the church and the Teutonic Order, the infirmary, the residential quarters of the dignitaries and the Chapter House of the Teutonic Order, armaments, the cemetery where monks and knights were buried, the rare castle kitchen, and a fantastic amber collection. Of interest to those who appreciate architecture, the museum also covers the various transformations that the Malbork Castle underwent, the medieval heating system, architectural details like the 19th Century stained glass windows, and the 14th Century main watchtower. In the fall of 1997, a collection of neogothic polychromes was discovered in the east wing of the castle. These are rare illustrations of several passages from the Book of Revelations of St. John. These illustrations are on display in the Castle Museum.
A small district in the center of the Port of Gdansk, the Grodzisko Quarter, contains the fortifications and the fortress park, a former Corpus Christi hospital with an amazing church, and a prison complex. The Grodzisko fort is open year-round and admission to the grounds is free. Guides are needed to see the underground objects of the fort. The Port of Gdansk's Grodzisko Quarter contains the only preserved Napoleon Redoubt in Europe. Grodzisko Fort is over 40 meters tall and dominates the city center. It was first constructed in the 17th Century and rebuilt by the Prussians in the 19th Century in the shape of a polygon. When Napoleon failed in Russia in 1812, the Russian army surrounded Grodzisko Fort in the Port of Gdansk and the 40 thousand French soldiers that had fled there.
The Culture Park near the Port of Gdansk's Old Town in the Grodzisko Quarter was not damaged during World War I, as it held little military importance. After the war, it became a popular recreation spot. Covering more than 20 hectares, the park is open all year. It offers historic buildings (some of them underground) and wonderful views Gdansk Bay, the shipyards, and Old Town. It is also a habitat for many plant and animal species with walking paths.
The Port of Gdansk has two popular beaches, Stogi and Brzezno, and some popular water-related spots. The beach in Stogi has two water slides, and Brzezno has one. The beaches have many places to eat. A very popular attraction is the 130-meter long Gdansk-Brzezno pier. The Port of Gdansk's Stogi and Brzezno beaches won a 5-star rating from the "Polityka" weekly in 2003. Crowded in the summer, the beaches are also great places for long walks in the autumn and winter.
Sopot Beach, about half way between the Port of Gdansk and Gdynia, is famous for its wealth of shops, restaurants, and nightclubs. It also offers a long stretch of sandy beach packed with sunbathers, volleyball players, and parties. The water is comfortable for swimming in late August and early September, but most visitors are happy to simply hunt for the amber that sometimes washes up. At night, the beachfront is alive with happy people enjoying the pubs and discos as well as star-watching from the beach.
Travelers who want to visit the Port of Gdansk by sea can find a list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.