Day 4. Gdansk Shipyards and Amber Museum

We started off the final day of our weekend in Gdansk with a short tram ride to the European Solidarity Centre which was constructed alongside the historic shipyards.  It is free to enter the building but tickets are required for the permanent exhibition 30zl (£5.55).

European Solidarity Centre, Gdansk
Inside the European Solidarity Centre

The exhibition begins with the widespread strikes of August 1980 following more than ten years of unrest.  It details the birth of the Solidarity movement and the emergence of Lech Walęsa as their leader.  Also covered is the Polish born Pope John Paul’s visit to his homeland the effects of which led to freedom not only for Poland but for all the occupied countries of the communist bloc.

Rooftop terrace, European Solidarity Centre, Gdansk
The Solidarity Centre’s rooftop terrace

The building has a large atrium filled with trees and plants, feeling light and airy.  There’s also a large reference library, conference facilities, cafe and gift shop.  We took the lift up to the rooftop terrace from where there are splendid views overlooking the shipyards and further afield.

Views off the Gdansk Shipyards from the Solidarity Centre's rooftop terrace
Views off the Gdansk Shipyards from the rooftop terrace

Outdoors in Solidarity Square stands the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard workers of 1970.  The memorial was unveiled in 1980 to commemorate the events of 1970 when 45 people died during street riots against the communist regime.

Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970, European Solidarity Centre
Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970, European Solidarity Centre

To one side of the monument is Gate 2 of the Gdansk shipyard.  This famous gate is where Lech Walęsca stood to announce that a deal had been secured with the Communist government in 1980.

Gdansk Shipyard Gate
Gdansk Shipyard Gate

Leaving there we hopped back onto a tram back to the old town so that we could visit the Museum of Amber.  Standard admission 12zl (£4.08) Included in the Gdansk Card.  The museum moved into new premises in 2021 and arranged over two floors there are dazzling displays of the stone illuminated against black walls providing a striking contrast.

Museum of Amber, Gdansk
Displays in the Museum of Amber

The exhibition begins by taking visitors back millions of years to when fossil resins and Baltic amber began to form.  The Baltic Sea is unique for its wealth of amber deposits with small nuggets of this semi-precious stone found around the coast.

Museum of Amber, Gdansk
Interior of the Museum of Amber

The museum goes on to describe how amber is extracted, what its properties are and the ways it has been used across the ages.  On display are natural lumps of stone as well as finished products such as jewellery, utensils, sculptures and ornaments.  I knew very little about amber before visiting but enjoyed learning about this semi-precious stone in this well designed and informative museum.

National Museum of Gdansk
National Museum of Gdansk

Leaving there, our next stop was to the National Museum of Gdansk standard entrance 10zl (£1.86).  The museum is located in a former Franciscan monastery and is a joy to visit to admire the inside of the building with its vaulted ceilings and large, sweeping staircases.  The galleries contain paintings and sketches by European masters from the end of the 15th to the beginning of the 19th century.

The Last Judgement, National Museum of Gdansk
The Last Judgement on display in the museum

On display is the Last Judgement by Hans Memling which was created between 1461-1471 and is one of the most valuable pieces of work owned by the museum after it was returned to Gdansk by Russia in 1956.

Gdansk Market Hall
Gdansk Market Hall

Close to the museum lies the Gdansk Market Hall, constructed in 1896 in neo-Gothic style this red brick and wrought iron masterpiece could easily be mistaken for a grand railway station.  Going indoors we found it to offer the usual range of market items from clothes and footwear through to household items.  Outside we discovered more stallholders selling fresh fruit,  vegetables and tasty snacks.

Green Gate Museum, Gdansk
The Green Gate Museum located in the city gate

Our walk then continued to the magnificent Green Gate that forms the link between the old town and Granary Island.  We had walked through these archways numerous times over the weekend but not yet been inside the building which is home to the Green Gate Photo Museum, entrance  5zl (93p).  The museum forms part of the National Museum we had just visited and displays sketches of old Gdansk within its two rooms.  The sketches were interesting but as none of the signage was in English we had difficulty understanding their significance.  The building was a good place though to enjoy aerial views of both Long Market and the riverside.  I am unable to include any photos as this is not permitted inside the museum.

Blue Lamb Granary, Gdansk
Blue Lamb Granary, Gdansk

On leaving there we wandered over to Granary Island to visit the Blue Lamb Granary which is a branch of the Archaeological Museum.  It’s located in one of the former granaries close to the river and is yet another of Gdańsk’s museums located in historic buildings.

Exhibit, Blue Lamb Granary Archaeological Museum, Gdansk
Exhibit, Blue Lamb Granary Archaeological Museum, Gdansk

We didn’t know quite what to expect but were very impressed with the museum layout, signage and exhibits which include a recreated Hanseatic street from the 14th/15th century.  Wandering along this alleyway we felt as if we had been transported back to medieval times with the sights and sounds of life during those days.  Displays of craft workshops, people’s homes and shops help to bring the museum to life and whilst we were there a primary school group were enjoying the galleries just as much as we were.

Mercury in the Glass, Gdansk
The Mercury in the Glass monument on the Long Market

This concluded our visit to Gdansk’s museums, many of which we’d had an opportunity to visit during our four day visit.    There was still time for one last stroll through the delightful old town and whilst making our way along Long Market we noticed a Fahrenheit thermometer on display so paused to take a closer look.  We discovered that Daniel Fahrenheit (1786-1736) the physicist and inventor was born on an adjoining street from this recreation of his ‘mercury in the glass’.  He gave his name to the temperature scale and his contribution to science has endured for centuries.  Whilst many nations have since abandoned the Fahrenheit scale in favour of Celsius it is still widely used in the USA and several other countries.

Gdansk riverside
Gdansk riverside

After our gentle stroll we enjoyed dinner at a restaurant on Granary Island before collecting our luggage and heading back to the airport.  For the return journey we decided on a different method opting to take a tram to the central railway station and then a bus from outside which took us straight back to the airport.  This took about the same length of time as the train/tram option that we used on arrival but as the bus service is less frequent I think it’s best to check the timetable to see if it fits with your arrival time before deciding which one to take.

Lech Walesa Airport, Gdansk
Lech Walesa Airport, Gdansk

The airport was operating efficiently with our return flight to London Stansted departing on time.  The end of a super weekend in Gdansk, a city that I would highly recommend visiting.

Our visit was supported by Visit Gdansk and as always all views and opinions are entirely my own.

 

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Gdansk Shipyard & Museums

 

28 thoughts on “Day 4. Gdansk Shipyards and Amber Museum

  1. I have really loved this series and the view of a part of Poland I had never heard of before. The amber museum looks really amazing, and how striking those piece are against that dark background. The archeology museum looks really fascinating. Great tour of this area Marion 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like you had a great trip, Marion! I would love to visit the Museum of Amber – based purely on how it is formed, amber is perhaps one of the most interesting gemstones of all. In my native country, the stone is not only used in jewellery, it’s also used in a number of different decorative objects and has been popular for hundreds of years. Plus, it’s used as a healing agent in ancient folk medicine. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A solid sendoff Marion with these essential sights. I hadn’t been familiar with the solidarity movement and that so much of its history lies connected to Gdansk. The National Museum is such a handsome building, I love these kinds of church conversions.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your post made me mourn the gorgeous pieces of amber jewellery that I had acquired in Poland and the USSR and which were stolen in a house break-in when I returned to Australia. How sad … but what a wonderful insight into Gdansk and the very seat of Walesa’s uprising. I so remember being glued to the television during those days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How sad and annoying that your amber jewellery was stolen whilst you were away. We had a break awhile back whilst we were away for a weekend in London and it’s was the personal, sentimental items that are irreplaceable that I was most upset about losing, such as an engraved watch to mark a grandparent’s retirement. Getting back to Gdańsk, it’s a wonderful city and I too remember the uprising of the shipyards on TV.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a wonderful end to your time in Gdansk! I’ve heard that amber is a huge deal in that part of Europe, and I especially heard they’re abundant in the Baltic countries like Lithuania and Latvia (just a country away…). Happy to hear you had a wonderful short getaway, and I’m looking forward to your next holiday, wherever it may be!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like the way the amber pieces are displayed. One thing I learned from your trip to Gdansk is that their buildings are quite unique – it’s a style I don’t really see in other countries. Oh, hang on … and I learned where the word ‘Fahrenheit’ originated from 😉. Thank you once again Marion for introducing me to Gdansk – I’ve enjoyed this (as I always do).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The amber really dazzled in its display cases with the clever use of lighting. Visiting Gdańsk was delightful and I’d like to return again at some point to enjoy its architecture, waterfront and of course the food. Thanks so much for taking an interest in this series of posts Corna and for your ever welcome thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. An excellent last day Marion, hitting all the highlights. Hopefully Poland is not Putin’s next target. Love the amber museum. We saw something similar in NZ, but it was kauri gum, petrified kauri resin. Some beautiful works were created there. Thanks for sharing. Happy Sunday. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

  8. ThingsHelenLoves

    History and pretty amber, I really enjoyed reading about your time in Gdansk. I’d really love to visit the Solidarity centre. More so now, that atrium is lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

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