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Gdańsk, an oasis of freedom on the banks of the Baltic

I had never been in Poland.There were a couple of tentatives frustrated for reasons that do not come to the case, but in both the chosen destination was Krakow, a World Heritage City that resists disappearing from my list of pending destinations.But as almost always, the best experiences meet without looking for them.That is what happened to me when the possibility of traveling to Gdańsk arose, a quiet city on the banks of the Baltic often eclipsed by its neighbors Krakow or Warsaw that has caused me a very pleasant first impression of Poland.

And it is that in a world where it is increasing.Also known as the capital of freedom, this city of medium size, open spirit and cozy character presumes to be the most multicultural corner of Poland.Germans or Scandinavians have it among their usual getaways, but for many Spaniards it continues to be a jewel to discover.And that, well thought out, is a luck.Above all now that it is possible to fly directly from Valencia with the route that Ryanair operates in both directions on Tuesdays and Saturdays, an ideal combination for an escape to a vibrant destination and nothing trite.

Gdańsk gathers well arguments to seduce the most demanding travelers.Its characteristic urban landscape of cobbled streets and red brick buildings, rebuilt largely after World War II, remember at times that of the Netherlands.The colorful facades of the emblematic Long Street rise like arrows that point to Gdansk's sky.Many of them are furrowed by tin gutters topped with figures of real or mythological animals, hearts and all kinds of icons that make them one of their most recognizable elements.

Gdańsk's identity is manifested through three major symbols.One of them is the great 15th century crane, an engineering work that worked for half a century and today recalls its splendid past as a commercial enclave of the Hanseatic League.Inside you can still see the two pairs of huge wheels within which the men who provided the motor force walked.

In front of her, on a small island formed by the two arms of the Motlawa before its union with the Vistula River, there were more than 300 wheat, rye or wood warehouses that made the reputation of the barn of barn earn the city ofEurope.Only twenty of them were standing after World War II, but their place has been occupied since then by new buildings that remember the morphology of those barns and that today provide one of the most beautiful panoramic views in the city.Not surprisingly, this kind of Malecón furrowed by a wooden ribbons walk has become one of the most popular meeting areas for its inhabitants for the amount of premises and terraces in which to have dinner or take something with a view to the river and theOld helmet.

Another of Gdańsk symbols is the source of Neptune, an icon of its relationship with the sea and, according to legend, origin of the famous Goldwasser (Agua de Oro), a brandy that occurs since the 16th century with nuggets of that precious metal.Since 1633, water flows in this source located on one of the sides of the long market square, next to the old town hall.We are in one of the most picturesque corners of the city, a noble zone in which the beauty of the facades reflects the eagerness of its original owners for demonstrating their status: more windows, more power.One of the most beautiful is the one that raises at number 35, just in front of Artus Court, the Gdansk Museum.Leaving behind the famous green door on the shores of the Motlawa, the walk along the long street to the gold.

Very close to the golden door, it is worth stopping to contemplate the great armory, a perfect example of a Dutch Renaissance style for its front of the characteristic red brick of flamenco origin, which was the one they used as ballast the ships that docked in the port ofGdańsk.The figure of Athena, goddess of the battle, and that of the lion showing its attributes, icon of the city, stand out in the front of this building that today belongs to the Academy of Art.If the visit coincides with the month of December, this corner of the city will be animated by a traditional Christmas market.

Gdańsk, un oasis de libertad a orillas del Báltico

After a short walk through the one known as the beer street (Piwna) it reaches the basilica of Santa María, the largest brick church in the world whose construction began in 1343 and lasted more than 150 years.Every noon, the allegorical figures of its original astronomical clock of the 15th century dance to tourists who always come to see their particular parade.Leaving the north side of the Church, after contemplating the formidable baroque facade of the Royal Gdańsk chapel in contrast to the immense brick cathedral that rises behind it, walking along Mariacka street is like traveling 300 years ago.Converted into paradise from Amber buyers, it is probably the most faithfully reflecting corner the past of the city and its traditional houses, with ostentatious entrance terraces of gutters of gutters topped with gargoyles and dragons.

The parallel disposition of the streets in this part of the city to the Motlawa River remains in the Middle Ages.Even some sections of the medieval wall and the towers of the twelfth century surrounded the main city are preserved.This was one of the four administrative divisions in which the current city of Gdańsk was then divided.The other three were the new city, the old city and the suburbs.

Una historia unida al ámbar

Gdańsk is irremediably linked to amber.All its inhabitants have played at some point in their childhood to be seekers of small pieces of this fossil resin on the Baltic's fine sand beaches.The two fundamental references of that relationship are the Ambar Museum and Church of Santa Brígida, both in the old city.The first is one of Gdańsk's most novel attractions, since just a few months in operation.This is the first Poland Museum dedicated to explaining everything about this element as associated with the Baltic, from its formation as fossil to extraction methods and its different uses as a decorative and even medicinal element.The entrance is free with the city's tourist card, a recommended resource to access freely or at a reduced price to the vast majority of GDAńsk cultural sites.

It shows an impressive piece of 68 kilos and 35 million years old and all kinds of figures carved with this material, from furniture and jewelry to chess games or musical instruments.The five exposure plants are within a large mill that was the largest in Europe in the Middle Ages, built when the city was still under mastery of the Order of the Teutonic Knights.It worked as a mill until the end of World War II and since then it has had diverse uses, including the Municipal Prison.

But the most impressive manifestation of Amber in the city is located in the church of Santa Brígida.After practically razed in World War II, the temple was not rebuilt until the seventies of the last century.Nowadays it stands out for containing a great amber altar whose construction began two decades ago and, in some way, continues with the amber pieces that the residents of Gdańsk bring.The set itself is impressive, but only the custody of the center weighs 34 kilos.The Church was the place chosen by several foreign leaders visiting Poland to meet with the Nobel Peace Prize Valesa when it still directed the union "solidarity" in hiding.

Espíritu de libertad y concordia

But to investigate the keys to which Gdańsk is considered an oasis of freedom and concord it is necessary to look at his third great symbol: the Plaza de la Solidaridad.In this large open space next to the old shipyards, three large crosses of 42 meters high with anchors are erected as a tribute to the shipyards of the shipyard who were killed by the Polish popular army in 1970 during a protest for the price increaseof food.To understand the traumatic path that the Poles had to travel until they conquer their freedom after four decades of submission to the Soviet regime after World War II it is essential to visit the European Solidarity Center.

There was where on August 14, 1980 an electrician named Lech Valesa led a working strike that quickly extended throughout the country and that meant the beginning of the end of the dismantling of the communist system east of the curtain of steel of steel.The European Solidarity Center (CES) explains the episodes, many of them tragic, which preceded the Foundation of Solidarity, the union created by Valese after ensuring that the Soviet regime would accept freedom of association, and that in a short time it became civic motionWith 10 million members throughout Poland.In the CES, many original elements of those days are exhibited, such as the wooden board on which the strikers wrote their 21 claims or clothing in which the shots are appreciated to the workers who died in during the repression of the70s strikes.Everything in the CES is loaded with a huge symbolism, starting with the building that houses it, an immense ship -shaped structure that has made it worthy of several awards.As soon as you access the First Chamber, the image of hundreds of yellow helmets deployed from the ceiling that belonged to the shipyards of the shipyard is shocking.Through six other rooms, the fixed exhibition explains how solidarity was created and its influence on the birth of the new Poland with the first partially free elections in June 1989 of which a government with representatives of solidarity came out.

This role in the fight for the recovery of freedoms in Europe and its previous resistance against Nazism made Gdańsk deserving of the Princess of Asturias Award of the Concord in 2019, award that is also exhibited in the CES.The jury highlighted not only its historical role in the struggle for civic freedoms in Europe, but also its tolerant character and their recent policies for integrating immigrants and refugees or defending disadvantaged social groups.That open and cozy spirit continues to breathe today in each of the streets of Gdańsk, who opens his arms to receive visitors from all over the world willing to experiment for themselves why GDAńsk is the Baltic capital of freedom.

Dormir, comer, salir...

The historical zone and the new area of GDAńsk are pleasant to travel on foot, the distances are short and the rolled traffic is very limited.The environment of the famous green door and the long market square is one of the best areas to stay due to the most interesting points and for being one of the most beautiful areas of the city. Son opciones interesantes establecimientos como el Hampton by Hilton, el PURO Gdańsk o el Radisson Hotel & Suites.The latter is in a beautiful walk next to Motlawa, one of the most lively areas of Gdańsk in which countless restaurants of all styles such as the traditional Gdański Bowke are concentrated.

Those who look for a more select bite can find it in arc, open in 2020 by the Catalan chef Paco Pérez.This restaurant is located on the 33rd floor of the highest building in Gdańsk, the Victoria Star business complex, which allows you to enjoy spectacular views to the table.In the same plant there is also the restaurant thirty -three, a more casual and affordable version of the same chef with a proposal based on Spanish tapas and dishes such as the rice that pirren the Poles.

To face a Polish letter, some references should be clear.The famous Pierogi, a kind of empanada with a mass similar to that of the Gyozas, are undoubtedly the most famous bite in Poland.But there is much more.The Ahumadado Oscipek cheese, made with milk of sheep raised in the mountainous areas of the country, is a rarity that no cheese lover should get lost.Soups are also typical, very comforting.

When we talk about nightlife in Gdansk, fundamental references are two.One is the beer street, whose name leaves a few doubts, and the other is the electricity neighborhood (Elektrików), which does require an additional explanation.In the first, right in front of the Basilica of Santa Ana, little Wiśniewski is always very busy.There is a famous hot liquor of cherries whose method of elaboration is reserved as a mystery.The bravest can drop by Jack's Bar Fahrenheit and try drinks as blunt as the one that combines vodka, raspberry and tabasco syrup or smoked as the vodka combined, apple juice, lime and cinnamon in branch.But where the city vibrates with more intensity is in Elektrików, on the land of the old Gdańsk shipyard.The old ships and concrete buildings today house clubs, galleries, cafes and food trucks that make the area especially animated in the warm months.