Gdańsk 1988 and 2015

Three sets of shots from trips to Gdansk (more properly, Gdańsk) in 1988 and 2015.

Looking down the Long Bridge from outside the Green Gate:

Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970 (1980):

Westerplatte Monument in memory of the Polish defenders (1966):

As we found out in Venice last year, these mock-ups are surprisingly difficult to do!

Our visit to Westerplatte took place on the 76th anniversary of the outbreak of World War 2 on 1 September, which was quite special. Likewise, and coincidentally, we visited the Solidarity Centre on the 35th anniversary of the signing of the Gdansk Agreement on 31 August. The new Polish president and his entourage, plus a large number of Solidarity veterans, were also in attendance. In the 2015 photo it’s the museum which takes the background – the trees are gone.

A prime tourist spot, the Long Bridge seems little changed from 1988 apart from the demise of the belching factory chimney. And Gdansk retains its special patina, even carried through on some new housing developments. Wonderful. What has changed though is the availability of vegetarian food. While in 1988 I existed on a diet of zapiekanka (Polish pizza), in 2015 there are two value for money chains: old school fill ’em up Green Way (great felalfel wraps) and the completely contemporary Bioway. Perhaps they could be persuaded to open in Copenhagen?

In some ways though Gdansk was reminiscent of Copenhagen, not least for its bonkers topography. A postcard I bought with a map of Danzig in 1900 shows the city hanging off the river Weichsel (aka Vistula), with Speicher Insel (Granary Island) sitting in the middle of the river Mottlau and Niederstadt, doubling for Christianshavn, to the east, the whole lot surrounded by graben (moats) and an impressive set of bastions.

North of the historic city centre the Vistula splits into two main branches, with the Martwa Wisła (dead Vistula) emptying into the Gdansk Bay at the Westerplatte Peninsula.

Three are the coasts which I like most in all of Europe: Golden Horn, Gulf of Triest, Bay of Gdansk.

(Alexander von Humboldt, Gdansk, 14 September 1840)

More Gdansk: museums and me, an excellent In Your Pocket and some nice writing: Sketches of Gdansk 2012 ( “impression of Gdansk: a complex, rich city filled with historical vicissitudes, and unexpected beauty”), Marcel Krueger on Westerplatte and Past in the Present on Gdansk. 2018 update: Henning Larsen to Danskify the shipyard, nooo…

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