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Photographer's Note

St.Mary’s street from the Basilica, Gdansk

It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful streets of Gdańsk. It leads from the St Mary's church to the Long Embankment with the Medieval St Mary's Gate. The street is an exquisite example of historic Gdansk urban planning with terraced entrances and narrow, richly decorated facades of houses which once belonged to affluent merchants and goldsmiths. The picturesque scenery of the place has always inspired writers and painters. It has also used as the scene of films.

Closed from the west with an over thirty meters high St. Mary's Church (the 82 m high spire of the church can also be seen from the street), from the east - with Mariacka Gate and the tower of the Archeological Museum (former Natural Sciences Society), Mariacka Street seems to be a separate world. That impression in increased by the fact that it is the only street where the entrance terraces were not destroyed. A narrow lane, resembling a ravine with entrance terraces and high, usually four-storey houses on its sides begins with the Gothic arch of the Mariacka Gate and ends with the main entrance to St. Mary's Church. On the entrance terraces, in the basements and ground floors of the houses, there are numerous restaurants, cafés, pubs and shops, mainly amber shops (Gdańsk is the world's capital of amber). In summer, especially during St. Dominican Fair, the street is visited by thousands of tourists, musicians play the works of old masters and artists sell their paintings and drawings. During the other seasons of the year, the street can be completely empty - the silence is interrupted only by the sound of the bells of St. Mary's Church and that of the carillon of the Old City Town Hall, or the sound the ships make when going along the Motława river, situated behind Mariacka gate.

Gdansk

A thousand-year history, a location at the crossroads of important commercial and communication routes, an extensive port and mercantile traditions - all this makes Gdańsk a meeting place of many cultures, nationalities and denominations.
The first written mention of Gdańsk comes from 997. The defensive and urban complex as well as a port started to really form in the second half of the 10th century.
The dynamic development of trade, fishery and craft guilds soon pushed the city to the leading position in Pomerania. It maintained this even despite being taken over by the Teutonic Knights in 1308. The city continued to develop dynamically. Joining the League of Hanseatic Cities (in 1361) and the fast development of the port are just some of the factors contributing to the strong position of Gdańsk in Europe.
Although after the defeat of the Teutonic Order near Grunwald the city voted for the Polish king, it did not return to Poland until 1457 when King Kazimierz Jagiellończyk incorporated Gdańsk into the Crown and, in recognition of the merits of Gdańsk burghers, granted Gdańsk numerous privileges, thus starting a three-hundred-year period of prosperity.
The following years are traditionally called the "golden age." During this time Gdańsk was one of the wealthiest and most significant cities in Europe. The religious freedom gained in the 16th century turned the city into a true melting pot of nationalities and denominations, giving it yet another stimulus for development, thanks to the specific "community of differences." It was one of the few such places in the world at the time.
This prosperity was checked by the Swedish wars and partitions of Poland in the 18th century. The city was cut off from Poland and in 1793 it was annexed to Prussia. What followed was a period of slow decline, the gloomiest in its history, interrupted but for a while by the Napoleonic wars.
In 1919, the Free City of Gdańsk was established under the Treaty of Versailles, which brought the city back to the elite of European ports. Unfortunately, in 1933 Nazis took power and fascist terror started to escalate in the city.
On 1 September 1939, at around 4.30 in the morning, it was here, in Gdańsk, that the Second World War started with shots fired from the battleship Schleswig-Holstein. It was a time of bravery and martyrdom of its citizens. The heroic fighting in Westerplatte and the martyrdom of the defenders of the Polish Post Office opened a new, tragic chapter in the history of Gdańsk. (Source: Gdansk & wikipedia)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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