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Photographer's Note

Mariacka Gate in morning light, Gdansk

The charming and truly unique Mariacka Street is closed off on one end by the towering Mariacka Church and by the Mariacka Gate on the other. The gate allows pedestrians passage from the Motlawa to the cobbled roads of the Old Town and the famed porches of ul. Mariacka. This defensive structure was built in 1485 and is built of dark, almost brown, brick. Two towers rise up from the top of this fort, and the windows are small and secretive. When one is walking along the Motlawa, enjoying the vendors or restaurants, he or she might hardly notice the exceptional and almost out-of-place look of this building, but to see it from Granary Island youll notice that its dark, Gothic style sticks out like a sore, impenetrable thumb!

Gdansk

Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area. The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay (of the Baltic Sea), in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the Tricity (Tr鎩miasto), with a population of over 800,000. Gdańsk itself has a population of 455,830 (June 2010), making it the largest city in the Pomerania region of Northern Poland.

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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