The earliest records mentioning Gdansk go back to more than a thousand years ago and are related to St. Adalbert’s mission. The twentieth century developments in the city put Poland, Europe, and the world on their contemporary course. The Gdansk of today is a dynamically developing capital of the Pomeranian Voivodship and its prime centre of academic life and tourism. It is the home town to one of the most unique football stadiums in Europe – PGE Arena, and the European Solidarity Center commemorating the fundamental changes which took place in Central and Eastern Europe late last century.
Gdańsk has for centuries been a melting pot of European cultures and traditions. This Medieval Hanseatic port grew to become the largest and wealthiest city of the seventeenth century Poland. Its affluence in the times is reflected in the city’s fabulous architecture. The visitors are greeted by the Royal Route – the historic thoroughfare which used to lead Polish monarchs and distinguished guests into the city. Restored meticulously from war destruction, the Route delights the eye with the Upland Gate, Golden Gate, Green Gate combining the city gate and palace functions, the Neptune Fountain, the abundantly decorated townhouse frontages and their antique interiors. These masterpieces of architecture were authored by top artists from the Netherlands, Germany, and other parts of Europe, including such grand names as Hans Kremer, Hans Vreedman de Vries – the father of perspective, or the artistic family of Van den Blockes.
Year after year, visitors to Gdańsk from all over the world feast their eyes on the authentic architecture and sink in reflection at the symbols of the turning points in history, to name but the monument on the Westerplatte peninsula, the place where some of the first shots of the Second World War were fired, or the Gdansk Shipyard, the site of the 1980 strike and birthplace of Solidarity.
The city also offers a wealth of cultural and music events. Each of the international organ festivals, Gdańsk Carillon Festival, International Shakespeare Festival, or FETA festival of street theatre, has its own faithful fans. Every year, throngs of vendors and visitors crowd the streets of the Main City during Saint Dominic’s Fair with its rich programme of parades, performances, and shows. The Motlawa River brims with yachts and vintage sailing ships moored at the berths to the pleasure of the visitors resting at the nearby restaurants and cafes, and the residents.
All this makes Gdansk and the Pomeranian Voivodship one of the most frequented regions in Poland; let us but mention over 8 million visitors in 2014.
The Tri-City Agglomeration. The City of Gdansk is the unquestioned centre of both the region, and northern Poland. Gdańsk, Sopot, and Gdynia together form the Tri-City Agglomeration. Their functional diversification evolved naturally. Core economic activities are centred in Gdansk and Gdynia. Gdansk is the capital of the region and its largest city with the population of 461 thousand. Gdynia embodies success of local governance in Poland and dynamic economic growth. The city hosts international events which attract millions of visitors to the Tri-City, to name e.g.: the Open’er Festival – a major rock music event, or Gdynia Sailing Days – a true feast for water sport fans. Enjoying the status of a spa, Sopot combines the function of an interregional centre of leisure and recreation with that of the business home base of the modern service sector. It is also the most popular seaside resort in Poland.
The Tri-City Agglomeration altogether has 755 thousand residents, which accounts for more than one third of the entire population of the voivodship. It is the hub of the region’s economic potential (generating over 50% of the regional gross product), its main transport node, and centre of academic life, industry and trade. It is the exhibition centre, the seat of foreign consular agencies and secretariats of international organisations.