The City of Gdansk is the main polish town on the Baltic coast. It is the third largest city in the country. The city has a long history dating back to 980. It grew quickly to become an important trading post at the shore of the Baltic it became a base for first Poland and then Pomeria for a while.
After this the city became a Danish possession for a while until 1301 when the polish rulers hired the Teutonic Knight for assistance in pushing out the Danes – the Teutonic Knights did push out the Danes but they kept the city for themselves for the following centuries.
The city joined the Hanseatic Trading League of city states in northern Europe under the German name of Danzig and the city became an even more important trading post in the area. The city was under the rule of the Teutonic Knights until 1454 when it was finally returned to polish rule. The following time was another period of unrest with several wars taking place around the area. This didn’t stop the development of the city which becomes the largest city in Poland.
The city had a large minority of German speakers who formed the elite of the town. So it is hardly surprising the city was quickly integrated into Prussia after 1793 when Prussia received this area after the second partition of Poland. The city remained within the rule of Germany up until the end of World War I. After this the city got a special status as an independent city under the supervision of the League of Nations. The city still had a mainly German population so the integration into Germany after the onset of World War II in September 1939 was generally well received by the population.
Towards the end of the war the city was 80 percent destroyed and the old German center of the city more or less disappeared. Fortunately the polish authorities have made some good restauration works. So the central part of the city now looks very much like an old German town. If you don’t look too closely you could think this was actually an old town. If you look more closely you might notice all the windows in the houses are perfectly aligned – there are none of those crocked looking windows which are not at a right angle like you would see in a truly old city.
The old town is easy to walk around and you can enjoy the life on the main street where you will also find the majority of the restaurants in the city of Gdansk.