Things to Do in Gdansk
One of the largest historical centers in Europe, Gdansk Old Town (Gdańsk Stare Miasto) will take you back to the Middle Ages. Due to significant damage during World War II, many buildings are reconstructions of their historic counterparts, but a good number of original structures do remain. Almost one third of the streets in the Old Town have had the same names for more than 500 years.
The Old Town doesn’t have a main square; instead, activity centers around the long pedestrian street known as Dlugi Targ, or Long Market. Standing in the middle of Dlugi Targ is the impressive Neptune Fountain, built in 1633. One highlight of any tour around the Old Town include the 14th century Gothic style city hall, which today is home to the Historical Museum of Gdansk. Another must-see is the House of Uphagen, an 18th century town house that offers a glimpse into how the wealthy burghers of that era lived. Also of note are the 12th century Green Gate, the Dlugie Ogrody (Long Gardens), the colorful and cobbled Mariacka Street, St. Mary’s Church and Targ Weglowy (Coal Square).
The Nicolaus Copernicus Museum (Muzeum Mikołaja Kopernika in Polish) is set in Frombork, a seafront town on the lagoon of the Vistula River in northern Poland. It was here that Renaissance genius and astronomer Copernicus lived and worked for years until his death in 1543, leading to this museum complex’s focus.
Centered around Cathedral Hill, multiple structures and exhibits make up the museum, including Copernicus’ second burial site, the Gothic-Baroque Bishops’ Palace and Copernicus’ Tower, where he developed in his observatory the then-revolutionary theory that the earth moved around the sun. Constructed in the 14th century, the tower has been rebuilt multiple times and today houses a reconstruction of Copernicus’ sparsely furnished study.
Also refurbished after being razed by a fire, Bishops’ Palace features a permanent exhibition on Copernicus’ life, displaying early telescopes as well as a collection of stained-glass from the cathedral. The Belfry offers a planetarium with regular 3D shows, a gallery of modern art and Poland’s only functioning Foucault’s pendulum, which measures the rotation of the earth.