Photographer's Note

Stormy Gdansk with the Granary Island (in the foreground)

Once joined to the mainland, Granary (Spichlerze) Island was created when the New Motława
Canal was dug in 1576. A centre of trade developed here at the end of the 13th
century. What was then a relatively small number of granaries had grown to more
than 300 by the 16th century. Each granary had a name and each façade was
decorated with an individual emblem. The purpose of digging the canal, and thus
of surrounding the district with water, was not only to protect the granaries
against fire but also to safeguard their contents against thieves.
Everything was destroyed in 1945. Today a main road bisects the island, and the
charred stumps that can still be seen in many places are all that remain of the
granaries. The name signs on some ruins – such as Arche Noah (“Noah’s Ark”) on
Ulica Żytnia (“Wheat Street”) – remain legible. Reconstruction began several
years ago. The first granaries to be rebuilt were those between the Motława and
Ulica Chmielna (“Hop Street”). One of them is now the headquarters of ZUS, the
Polish social security organization. Restoration of a group of buildings on
Ulica Stągiewna was completed in 1999. Two 16th-century Gothic castle keeps,
survivors of World War II, are in this street. They are known as the Stągwie
Mleczne (“Milk Churns”).


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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