Polish cities are surprisingly diverse. Those located more to the east have a completely different character, buildings and sometimes spatial layout than those from western Poland. South and north are not similar either. This fascinating mix is the result of our complex history, in which influences from different cultures were mixed.
Visit, for example, Wrocław, a completely unique city in western Poland. Here you will encounter various influences, mainly German and Polish, but it does not lack Czech, Austrian and Jewish traces. The English historian, but also an expert on Poland, Norman Davies called Wrocław the "microcosm of Central Europe". (In the book Microcosm, which he wrote together with Roger Moorhouse). The large old town is the true social and cultural centre of the city. There are many students from different parts of Poland and the whole world. The atmosphere is similar to that of the university cities of Europe. In Lublin [redirection to the city], which is also a city of several universities, it is different, but equally attractive! It was here that East and West met, but most of all for several centuries it was a city of great importance for Polish Jews. Since it was one of the oldest and most important Jewish centres in Poland, it was called the Jerusalem of Poland or the Mother of Israel. For those who are interested in history, Lublin is a great place! Mediaeval fragments of the town walls are adjacent to Renaissance buildings. The beautiful park leading to the Catholic University of Lublin is a place where you can relax in a pleasant way. For lovers of student life there will also be attractions.
Warsaw is completely different. It is the capital of the country and the largest city in Poland. There are many universities here, but this is too large an area to speak of a university city. However, you will find here millions of attractions – cultural and more. No matter what music or entertainment you enjoy, you'll find places and people who share your passion. Museums, galleries, clubs, cafes, nightclubs, private theatres... At the end of World War II almost all of Warsaw was destroyed. The only district that has preserved its pre-war buildings is right-bank Praha, which is currently undergoing a renaissance. The Old Town was not rebuilt until the 1950s, but it never became the city centre, which distinguishes Warsaw from other cities in Poland.
In every city where you go to study, you will quickly find and understand its specificity. Kraków undoubtedly has a special atmosphere, with its well-preserved monuments and Europe's largest city square (under which a multimedia exhibition showing the rich history of the city, once the capital of the country and the city of kings, was launched). Today it is one of the main academic and business cities, with thousands of foreign tourists. Krakow is also proud of the oldest university in the country and the second in Central Europe – the Jagiellonian University, founded in the 14th century.
Lying on a bay of the sea, there’s Gdańsk, the city of the famous shipyard, where in 1980 Solidarity was born and where the world heard about Lech Walesa, which has a completely different character. The fantastic Gdańsk Old Town is only a part of the city's attractions, which are part of the Tri-City stretching along the coast (Gdańsk-Sopot-Gdynia). Wherever you are, you can always get on a train, bus or car and visit other cities in Poland, because all this diversity is within the reach of several hours of driving. It is certainly also worth seeing Poznań, Toruń, Łódź or Szczecin, and from smaller towns Zamość, Stary Sącz, Zakopane, Kłodzko...
Warsaw is the capital of Poland, an extraordinary city, located in the middle of Europe, at the intersection of communication routes from west to east and from north to south of the continent. It is here that the Polish government, parliament, ministries and embassies of other countries are located. In 2012 Warsaw will be a football city. It is here, during the European Cup Euro 2012, that several matches will be held. Warsaw is also one of the main candidates to be the European Capital of Culture 2016.
The city fascinates visitors with its history and atmosphere. It is curious in its variety. It is here that the influences of Western and Eastern European culture intertwine. Tradition meets modernity. The city surprises with its dynamic development – almost every day new developments appear, changing its face.
Warsaw is full of contrasts. After the war, the historic palaces, churches, buildings and architectural complexes were reconstructed with great care. Today, historical buildings are adjacent to modern architecture. The urban development coexists with the open space of squares, parks and gardens.
This vibrant metropolis is easily located in Europe. It offers an unforgettable experience to its guests and gives a chance to those who decide to stay longer.
Warsaw TOP 10
Walk along the streets of the Old and New Town to relax from the hustle and bustle of the city. Atmospheric alleys, squares and cosy cafes create a unique atmosphere, and two historic squares – the Old Market Square and the New Market Square – become a stage for musical and theatrical performances and an outdoor gallery in the summer season.
Royal Łazienki Palace-Garden Complex
One of the most beautiful complexes of this type in Europe, founded in the 17th century. It is a place of numerous cultural and entertainment events. Within it, you can see magnificent architectural monuments, the most important of which is the Palace on the Island built for King Stanislaw August Poniatowski. It was his summer residence, where parties were held and famous Thursday dinners were served.
Wilanów Palace and Park Complex
The summer residence of King Jan III Sobieski and then August II and the most outstanding noble families. It is one of the most beautiful monuments of the European Baroque and a testimony to the greatness of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The palace is surrounded by a magnificent two-level Baroque Italian garden and a romantic park in the English style. Wilanów is a place of important cultural events and concerts. In the former dressage room there is a Poster Museum.
Palace of Science and Culture
Erected between 1952 and 1955 as a gift from the Soviet nation to the Polish nation, it is the tallest building in Warsaw. It houses theatres, museums, a cinema, a swimming pool and a concert hall. On the 30th floor there is the highest viewing terrace in the city.
Museum of the Warsaw Uprising
The museum, opened on the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Uprising, is a tribute to those who fought and died to free Poland and its capital. It is located in the building of a former tram power plant and is one of the most modern museums in Poland. A tower soars over the building, with the symbol of the Fighting Poland, on top of which there is a terrace.
It has a rich collection of exhibits from all epochs, from ancient times to the present. It is also the venue of numerous temporary exhibitions presenting art from all over the world. The wing of the building from the Vistula side is occupied by the Museum of the Polish Army, which presents the history of the Polish Army, with an interesting exposition outside.
Copernicus Science Centre
The Centre is a joint institution established and financed by the City of Warsaw, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the Ministry of National Education. Its aim is to promote modern scientific communication. Visitors can learn about the laws of science by conducting their own experiments at more than 350 interactive exhibitions. It is one of the most modern interactive research institutions in Europe. The museum opened in November 2010 and the next part will be opened in 2011.
Library of the University of Warsaw
The facade of the building, which symbolizes a row of open books, is one of the most interesting examples of contemporary architecture in Warsaw. There is a garden on the roof which is open to the public. Strollers can see the interesting interior of the Library through special windows or the glass roof. The office of Think Poland is also here!
Right-bank Warsaw has recently gained the status of an artistic district, where artists' studios, theatres and fashionable clubs are located in atmospheric tenement houses. Just visit Ząbkowska or 11 Listopada Streets to find several of the most popular restaurants in one place...
Places connected with Fryderyk Chopin
Fryderyk Chopin is undoubtedly the best known Warsaw inhabitant. He spent the first 20 years of his life here. It was here that he learned music, gained his savoir-faire, and gave his first concerts. Walking through the streets of the city you’ll find the places where he lived or where he used to be. Warsaw has the world's richest collection of Chopiniana.
Warsaw is one of the largest and most important academic centres in the country. Every year it trains 23,000 students in more than 60 higher education institutions. Warsaw is the city with the largest number of students, and immediately behind it in the rankings stand Krakow and Wrocław. The most important public universities in Warsaw are: the University of Warsaw, the Warsaw University of Technology, the Warsaw University of Life Sciencesand the Warsaw School of Economics.
For many years, the University of Warsaw has been the largest university in the country and a leading academic centre in Europe. The main part of the campus is located in Krakowskie Przedmieście, not far from the Royal Castle and the Old Town. You can walk through the campus and the park in the direction of the Vistula River, where the modern University Library is located, into a beautiful, award-winning building with a botanical garden on the roof. The Think Poland office is also located in this building.
The Warsaw University of Technology is one of the leading technical universities in Poland and one of the largest in Europe. Every year, more than 35,000 students study in 19 faculties covering the most important fields of science and technology. According to research conducted by the Polish daily “Rzeczpospolita”, it is the graduates of the Warsaw University of Technology who make up the largest percentage of managers and presidents of Polish companies. Every ninth president among the five hundred top corporations in Poland is a graduate of the Warsaw University of Technology.
No matter which public university you choose for yourself in Warsaw, you can be sure that each institution will guarantee you the highest quality education!
Considered one of the main attractions of Central Europe, Wroclaw is beautifully situated in the valley of the Oder River, which intersects the city creating 12 islands. Some compare the city with Amsterdam or Venice. Wrocław attracts tourists like a magnet – with its location, mild climate, monuments and friendly inhabitants.
Wrocław is very well managed and is best able to manage EU funds from among Polish cities. The mayor of the city is a candidate who is not associated with any political faction and who enjoys great popularity among the inhabitants. Like Warsaw, Wrocław is a top candidate for being a European Capital of Culture in 2016. And in 2012 it will be a football city as part of Euro 2012.
The Silesian capital boasts many architectural styles – Bohemian, German, Austrian and Prussian – which reflect the rich history of the city. The Old Market Square, the largest in Europe after Krakow, attracts thousands of tourists. You can spend hours here walking through the maze of narrow streets, looking into art shops, art galleries, or stopping by for coffee or cake in the surrounding cafes.
The second important site to visit is Ostrów Tumski. This is where the grand basilica and four smaller churches are located. Narrow streets, the lack of urban life, and oil lamps lit at night create a mystical atmosphere and the illusion of travelling in time.
You can also take a boat trip on the river to fully appreciate the architecture of the city and the variety of its 112 bridges. Tours are available in summer from May to October.
If you would like to see Polish culture, go to the flea market on Sunday morning at Niskie Łąki. Here you can buy "soap and jam", which means… absolutely anything. Today, Wrocław is mainly an academic city with a unique cultural offer. Numerous festivals are held throughout the year, the most famous of which is Wratislavia Cantas, during which the churches of Wrocław are turned into concert halls, where great oratorios and cantatas are held. Celebrating the New Year in Wrocław’s Market Square also attracts crowds of young people.
A characteristic feature of Poles – the ability to make "something out of nothing" is best reflected in the pubs in Wrocław. Students can drink Polish Tyskie beer sitting in a wardrobe in Graciarnia or in a mediaeval prison (Pracoffnia), taste the aromatic Żubrówka in a bar which is a replica of Columbus’ ship, or drink mad dogs (vodka, raspberry juice and tabasco) sitting face to face with Lenin in the historic bar dedicated to the times of the People's Republic of Poland.
If you see dwarfs in the street after leaving the pub, do not be afraid that this is a post-fun side effect. They were deliberately scattered around the city in tribute to the Orange Alternative, the most colourful form of opposition to the Communist regime. Its participants used to paint orange dwarves on propaganda slogans. Today, you can see a small stone dwarf climbing a street lamp, doing laundry in the river, or flying on a pigeon.
Wroclaw is the fourth largest city in Poland and offers all the city's attractions to visitors.
Wrocław is a city of culture, with an opera, an operetta, and many theatres. It was here that Jerzy Grotowski, the founder of the famous Theatre Laboratory, poet Tadeusz Różewicz, and the founder of the Wrocław mime theatre, Henryk Tomaszewski, lived. Wroclaw also has many interesting museums worth seeing.
One of the main attractions is the famous Panorama of Racławice. This great painting (15 x 114 m) takes the viewer to another reality and a different time. The picture presents the battle of Polish insurgents at Racławice near Krakow, under the leadership of the national hero Tadeusz Kościuszko, with the Russian army. This legendary work came from the brushes of Jan Styka and Wojciech Kossak.
While visiting the Old Market Square, one cannot fail to notice the Baroque facade of the University of Wrocław with Leopoldin's Aula and the University Church with its beautiful frescoes.
University of Wroclaw is only one of 35 universities in the city. The University itself has a rich history of more than three centuries. Since the beginning of the 20th century, it has trained nine Nobel Prize winners (Theodor Mommsen, Philipp Lenard, Eduard Buchner, Paul Ehrlich, Fritz Haber, Friedrich Bergius, Erwin Schrödinger, Otto Stern and Max Born). Today it is the largest university in the region with more than 400,000 students and 1,300 PhD students at 10 faculties. However, Wrocław's students stand out not only in terms of science; at the next Thanks Jimi Festival in 2007, once again the Guinness Guitar Record was beaten.
Wroclaw is one of the most beautiful cities in Central Europe, beautifully situated along the Oder River with its charming character of 112 bridges and 12 islands. Some compare it to Venice or Amsterdam.
The capital of Silesia boasts a wealth of architectural styles – Bohemian, German, Austrian and Prussian. The Old Town, with the second largest market square after Kraków.
The city, which has 600,000 thousand inhabitants, is located in the western part of the country. It is an important transport hub on the Moscow-Berlin road, with an extensive railway network and its own airport. After Warsaw, Poznań is the fastest growing city in Poland.
The economic boom of the 1980s attracted many foreign investors, and since then the city has been constantly developing. Many international corporations have established their subsidiaries here, and the number of universities is constantly increasing.
Thanks to its location, Poznań has been a well-known trade fair and exhibition centre for many years. Before the Second World War it was here that the largest trade fair in Poland took place. Currently, every year MTP organizes over forty specialist trade fairs, both domestic and worldwide. In Poznań, football fans will be able to participate in the Euro 2012 Cup.
This large academic city is full of young people. More than 120,000 students study here in more than 12 academic schools. Several important national and European academic centres are located here. The most important include the Adam Mickiewicz University (UAM), the Poznań University of Technology (Politechnika Poznańska) and the University of Economics.
What is worth seeing in Poznań?
In the heart of Poznań lies the Old Town and Market Square with a beautiful Renaissance town hall. At noon, the clock door opens on the tower of the town hall, and the eyes of tourists gathered below appear two goats, butting with their horns each time the clock strikes. They are the ones that can be seen in the city’s coat of arms.
The carefully restored Old Market Square is the most characteristic place in the city. It is also a place for social meetings in excellent restaurants or lively pubs.
Sports fans gather around Lake Malta, which has one of the most modern regatta racing tracks. Around the lake there are recreational areas attracting cyclists, roller lovers and even skiers who enjoy an artificial ski slope all year round. Near the lake there is Poznań Zoo, which can be reached by narrow-gauge railway.
Also worth a visit are the districts of Poznan: Sołacz and Jeżyce, each having its own individual character. Sołacz hides beautiful 19th-century villas around a park in the English style, while Jeżyce boasts richly decorated tenement houses in art-deco style and a market square where you can buy everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to clothes and household appliances while watching the life of the inhabitants of Poznań.
One of the most famous festivals in Poznań is the International Theatre Festival "Malta", held annually in June (www.maltafestival.pl). It turns the city into a street spectacle, attended by artists from all over the world and residents who are often invited to play.
Museum lovers will not be disappointed. Poznań has a dozen or so of them. Once a year a so-called Museum Night is organized, during which you can visit the museums for free.
November 11th is the holiday of Poznan. It is both Independence Day and that of the patron saint of the city, St. Martin. On this day St. Martin opens a procession and a street parade which passes through the main street of the city – St. Martin’s. Only on this day in Poznań you can get the famous Marcin horns – filled with a tasty mixture of almonds, poppy seeds and orange peel.
Located in the south of Poland, Krakow is one of the oldest cities and a gem of national cultural heritage. In the past, it served as the capital of the country, the seat of kings. It is a vast city, situated on the queen of Polish rivers – the Vistula River and is visited by tourists from all over the world. Krakow is also a convenient base for trips to Zakopane and Wrocław.
Krakow is a city full of history. For centuries it has attracted great scientists and artists from all over the world. Thanks to their talents and imagination, it has been possible to create a magical city full of unique monuments that reflect the most important trends in European culture. No wonder that the city was once called Athens of the North or the Second Rome.
The city centre is built up with beautiful tenement houses, rich churches, charming squares and parks with sculptures. It is impossible to say that you visited Krakow in one day. It is far too little to experience all the emotions that this place brings with it. The unique atmosphere of Krakow is an inspiration for artists and scientists. Tourists fall in love with this place and leave to return to it a moment later. This is due not only to the cultural and artistic richness, but also to the charming streets and lanes, and small restaurants with regional delicacies.
Main Market Square
The Main Market Square is the largest mediaeval market square in Europe. It is a square with sides 200 metres long. The market square is the centre of cultural and social life. It is here that regular concerts and fairs are held, and it is a meeting place for hundreds of tourists and inhabitants of Krakow.
The eastern part of the Market Square houses St. Mary's Church. Each hour is marked by a bugle-call from the St. Mary's Tower. It is played every day, commemorating the invasion of the city by Tartars in the 13th century. You can also see local traditions on display in the Market Square. Colourful, cyclical events include the Election of the Chicken King and Lajkonik's Scout in June and the selection of the most beautiful Nativity Scene in December. These ancient customs can only be seen in Krakow.
In the very centre of the Main Market Square is the Cloth Hall, built in the 12th century. Once a place where materials were sold, today you can buy local handicrafts there. One of the most beautiful and modern museums of the history of the city was opened below the Cloth Hall.
A few hundred metres from the Main Market Square rises Wawel Hill with the Royal Castle, from which there is a beautiful panorama of Krakow. Wawel Cathedral has witnessed royal coronations and funerals. The building dates back to the year 1000 and when visiting Wawel Castle, do not forget to visit the Renaissance monastery and beautiful royal chambers with tapestries (dresses?) woven by Flemish masters. Wawel Cathedral is a Polish Pantheon containing the tombs of many Polish kings, national heroes and poets.
Kazimierz is one of the most fashionable districts of Krakow. Once an independent city, today it is one of the districts not far from Wawel Castle. Kazimierz was captured in Steven Spielberg's film Schindler's List, the winner of many Oscars.
The charming tenement houses of Kazimierz create a specific atmosphere in the place. Kazimierz was the place of residence of the local Jewish community until the outbreak of World War II. Visitors can visit several beautiful synagogues and taste traditional dishes in many of the exclusive Jewish restaurants. Every summer, the Festival of Jewish Culture takes place in Kazimierz, which attracts fans of Jewish culture from all over the world.
"Those who want to know the spirit of Poland should look for it in Krakow," wrote Wilhelm Feldman. A visit to this place is a real feast for music lovers and lovers of art, literature and poetry. The city is famous for its Old Theatre, where the greatest Polish actors started their careers. To this day, it is used to stage plays with the participation of the most eminent stars of the national stage . There are currently thirteen theatres and a philharmonic concert hall in the city. Interesting exhibitions of both classical works and fruit of avant-garde art are presented in Galleries.
Visits to numerous restaurants, cafes and pubs, which try to refer as closely as possible to Krakow's tradition, including culinary delicacies, will make your stay more pleasant.
Krakow is also a well-known and respected academic centre. Every year, more than 170,000 students attend 25 higher education institutions. The largest and oldest one is the Jagiellonian University, founded in 1364. The Jagiellonian University together with its Collegium Medicum boasts over 45,000 students and 6,700 academic teachers. Other colleges worth mentioning are: the Krakow University of Technology, the AGH University of Science and Technology, tha Academies of Fine Arts, colleges and business schools.
Lublin is undoubtedly the capital of eastern Poland. The long, multi-ethnic tradition of the city has made its name known not only in other languages, but even in alphabets. In Yiddish, the name of the city is registered as לובלין, in Ukrainian: Люблін, and in Russian: Люблин The town is also called Liublinas in Lithuanian.
Situated on the border of Eastern and Western cultures, Lublin has played an important cultural role for centuries. For centuries, trade and diplomatic missions passed through Lublin, and today the city is a meeting place for artists, scientists, students and businessmen.
Lublin has for centuries been a noble example of tolerance; Jews, Ruthenians, Protestants, Catholics and other nations lived in the city. Podzamcze, the old town district, was the seat of Jews for centuries until the terrible year of 1939.
In contemporary Lublin, one can feel at every step the openness and kindness typical of cities in which the elements of various cultures have blended for centuries.
Lublin also has a lot to offer in terms of historical monuments.
The Lublin Old Town is the best preserved mediaeval town in Poland. On a 7 ha hill there are 100 historic tenement houses and buildings. Under the old town there is an underground tourist route leading through the cellars of former merchant depots, wine cellars and the times of the city's development.
Krakowskie Przedmieście, the representative Lublin street, is a favourite place for residents and tourists to meet and play. There are many cafes, art cellars and restaurants to choose from, as well as the famous Semadeni confectionery, founded 160 years ago.
Lublin Castle was built in the neo-Gothic style in 1828. The ruins of the castle housed a prison which until 1954 imprisoned and killed many thousands of Poles murdered during the Second World War and the Stalin terror in the years 1948-54. Today, the building is the seat of the Lublin Museum.
The oldest university in Lublin was the Jewish Talmudic Academy, founded in 1567, called the Academy of Wise Men in the 20th century. In 1918, the Catholic University of Lublin was founded, where Pope John Paul II, among others, studied. For over half a century, other renowned universities have been located in Lublin: Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Medical University, Agricultural University and Wincenty Pol University.
For centuries Lublin has been a place where culture and artists meet. There are many theatres and theatre festivals here. Throughout the year, student clubs and cultural centres organize extraordinary meetings, conferences, concerts and festivals, culminating in the Juwenalia festivals: Kulturalia, Kozienalia and Feliniady. You will certainly not be bored if you decide to live in Lublin!
The biggest city in Poland, after Warsaw, is a cultural phenomenon and a fascinating place; it is the seat of outstanding artists, scientists and industry. A modern city immersed in tradition. A city of multicultural heritage of Poles, Germans, Jews and Russians, the industrial revolution of the age of steam and electricity and the seat of the world-famous Museum of Contemporary Art and the Łódź Film School. Łódź is a city of creative energy, vibrating with the pulse of the era.
Since the 19th century, Łódź has been a Promised Land for many nations – Poles, Germans, Jews and Russians. Among them were great industrialists, merchants, bankers, architects and writers, who together created the modern city and its culture. Traces of this unique heritage can still be admired today in the form of numerous monuments of sacral architecture and the necropolis – here is the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe and the beautiful Old Cemetery on Ogrodowa Street with numerous tombstones in the Art Nouveau style. Today, the city's multicultural heritage is reflected in the annual Festival of Four Cultures, which takes place in September.
Łódź is famous for its numerous monuments of industrial architecture. German weavers came here in the 1830s and left behind factories with machines, villas and palaces that impress with their variety of forms, richness of decorations and interiors, evangelical churches, theatres and schools. The empires of entrepreneurs have survived to this day and are a testimony to the fortune that they had in their possession. Today, they serve as the headquarters of various institutions. For example, the Poznański Palace currently houses the Museum of the History of the City, and two of its villas today belong to the Academy of Music and the Museum of the History of Art, where you can admire the oldest collection of modern art in Poland.
A city in a city
One of the most interesting industrial monuments in Łódź is Księży Młyn, built in the 1870s. It’s a city in a city, with its private railway network, consists of residential houses, factory buildings, spinning mills, warehouses, worker houses, a hospital, a school, shops, a sports park and power plants. The massive red-brick walls, powerful towers, monumental gates and chimneys are the symbols of the 19th century and the industrial revolution. Księżny Młyn is one of the most important monuments of European industrial culture.
Manufaktura is a modern centre of art, commerce and entertainment, created within the walls of the former spinning factory empire. The Centre was nominated for the international MIPIM award in the category of shopping centres. Manufaktura includes an IMAX cinema, restaurants, bowling alleys, a climbing wall, a museum and many brand-name shops.
The Karol Wilhelm Scheibler Palace houses the only Museum of Cinematography in Poland, gathering exhibits related to the history of film industry and technology. Łódź is also a city of many film festivals.
The city's flagship is Piotrkowska Street, the longest shopping route in Europe. It is a great place to do shopping, also to visit a restaurant, café, pub or disco of your choice from over a hundred located here. You should also take advantage of the unique opportunity to ride a rickshaw or a replica of a historic tram.
Piotrkowska Street is the cultural backbone of Łódź, the axis of the expansion of the 19th century city and a modern, representative salon. Among the peculiarities of the street, there is Freedom Square, which is octagonal in shape. Piotrowska never sleeps. If it doesn't trade, it's fun, if it doesn't sing, it dances, it's a place where many concerts, happenings, sports competitions and festivals take place – it's the cultural salon of the city.
All over the world, in circles of cinema lovers, the name Łódź Film School evokes a warm smile and words of respect. Among the hundreds of graduates of the Film School, there are world-famous directors, cinematographers and actors, there are Oscar-winners and prestigious awards of the Cannes Film Festival: Krzysztof Kieślowski, Roman Polański, Andrzej Wajda and Krzysztof Zanussi.
The Technical University of Łódź educates over 20,000 students at 9 faculties. A unique unit is the Centre for International Education, where studies are conducted in English and French. This promotes the internationalisation of education and student exchanges with foreign higher education institutions.
A thousand of years of history, its location at the intersection of important trade and communication routes, and a large port have made Gdańsk a city of many cultures, nationalities and religions. History is visible at every step of the way in Gdańsk. The well-preserved defensive walls are one of Europe’s largest city fortifications. The city itself is a gem of bourgeois architecture, with beautiful tenement houses and an interesting market square. The old town hides many charming streets with Gothic churches.
The most famous symbols of the city are: Neptune's fountain on the representative street of the city – Długa (it’s also a great place to meet) – and a large 14th-century crane on the Motłowa River. The two objects are not far from each other.
When talking about the history of the city, it’s impossible not to mention the Gdańsk Shipyard, where the Solidarity movement was born, led by Lech Walesa, which contributed to the overthrow of communism in Poland in 1989.
Gdańsk is also famous for its amber. Ladies in particular will be delighted by the beautiful amber jewellery, from small earrings to large amber beads. Gdańsk, together with the neighbouring cities of Sopot and Gdynia, forms the so-called Tri-City, the only such urban conglomerate in Pomerania. You can take a ferry from the ports of Gdańsk and Gdynia to Sweden. Gdańsk will also host football matches played as part of the Euro 2012 Cup.
A thousand years of history is not only a time for merchants, but also for artists who still proudly represent their city in Poland and Europe. The theatre and the opera are well developed in the city. Cinema lovers will not be disappointed by the offer of local cinemas either.
Most of the cultural events take place in the summer. Here are some of them:
- Gdańsk Music Summer (July-August) – a cycle of classical concerts with the biggest stars in the breathtaking scenery of the amphitheatre on the river Motlawa.
- International Festival of Organ Music at the Oliwa Cathedral (July-August) – both old and new compositions will be played by the world's organ virtuosos
- FETA International Street Theatre Festival (July) – a popular festival among students, the city turns into a street theatre
- Baltic Sail – Ships Rally in Gdańsk (July) – regattas, sailing, and a shanty festival in the very heart of Gdańsk
- Shakespeare Festival (August) – an international meeting of theatres showcasing plays by the Stratford Master
- Gdańsk Carillon Festival (August) – this is the only music event of its kind in Poland. Only Gdańsk has two valuable sets of playing bells, i.e. carillons: the carillon in the Main Town Hall and the concert bells in St. Catherine's Church. The festival is a review of magnificent works from the literature of music for carillon, from baroque compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach to 20th-century works by Artur Rubinstein.
- Dominican Market (August) – one of the most popular events in Gdańsk, with its origins in the thirteenth century. Today it attracts tourists from all over the world. The market is not only a place where you can buy antiques, handicrafts, jewellery and, of course, amber, but also events, concerts, competitions and family meetings.
Gdańsk is a well-known academic centre in Europe. Its universities enjoy high rankings in Poland and Europe. The University of Gdańsk is a university with a wide range of courses for foreign students. The Medical University attracts not only Poles, but is also the Alma Mater for many Swedes. The Gdańsk University of Technology, on the other hand, has a fantastic range of Oceanology courses, unique in the country.