The historical center of Gdańsk

Gdańsk as we know today hasn’t been like this for a long time. After being annexed by Nazi Germany, it suffered considerable destruction and was reconstructed in the early ’50s. The political decision of the reconstruction aimed at cultural cleansing by destroying all traces of German influence in the city. The city’s architecture has Dutch, French and Italian influences, which replaced the Germanic architecture used ever since the 14th century. The signs of German tradition were called “Prussian barbarism” and wished to be demolished. 

St. Mary's Church in Gdańsk
Building facade and man
Building facade
Building facade in Gdańsk
Dluga Street, Gdańsk

Nowadays, reconstruction has been criticized by some people and been called its second catastrophe of the 20th century. Such decisions taken after the war are interesting to be researched more. They can’t be judged without knowing the context and can’t be fully understood without feeling the vibe of those times. Although, the city gave a sense of feeling that its old city it’s mainly frequented by tourists. Peaking through the windows, the buildings did not show much life and left me wondering how many of those rooms are inhabited. I can’t deny the city’s beauty but would have loved to see the center as part of the locals’ life.

Zaspa – a visual antithesis

Only 30 minutes away by tram from the historical center of Gdańsk lay the communist blocks in the Zaspa quarter. The grey and depressive blocks of concrete were erected in the early ’80s in a modernistic urban planning way. It was wished to be “self-sustained machine for living“, but failed to be due to the financial crisis of those times. The blocks were painted in vivid colors in the ’90s and are home to The Monumental Painting Collection. It is an open-air gallery consisting of 60 large format murals, covering the less pleasant visual aspect of the bleak period in which the country found at the East of the Iron Curtain went through.

Colorful communist building in Zaspa
Communist building in Gdańsk
Block orange entrances
Zaspa communist buildings, Gdańsk

Gdańsk has a rich history and not only its looks make it an interesting city. It is a mix of wonderful architecture in the historical center and communist blocks of concrete covered in well-made murals. From the Slavic mixed with Baltic cuisine to the amazingly designed restaurants and pubs, Gdańsk is ready to offer tourists an unforgettable experience.

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