Gdansk has played an important and complicated role in the history of Poland and Germany. At various times it has been part of both countries as well as an independent city-state. World War II started here when Hitler decided to take Gdansk back into Germany. It also was instrumental in the downfall of the Soviet Union with the strikes led by Lech Walensa at the Gadansk shipyard. Between attacks by Germany in capturing it and Russia and the US and its allies in retaking it, the city was virtually destroyed in WW II. There were three ideas for rebuilding: leave it in ruins as a reminder of the consequences of war, rebuild as a modern city, or rebuild in the traditional style. Fortunately, they decided to rebuild in the traditional style with any hint of Germanic architecture removed. The result is block after block of one of the most charming towns I have seen in Europe.Gdansk lies at the mouth of the Matlawa River. The tall building with the red roof at the far right is a medieval crane for loading and unloading ships. The crane had a lift capacity of up to four tons. And how was this old crane powered?By men climbing steps in two giant hamster wheels!The streets were filled with people and most of them appeared to be locals.
The tall building with the tower is the city hall.This building was formerly an armory.I liked the whimsical water spouts.Our guide called this the prettiest street in Gdansk. The street was lined with jewelry shops selling amber. We were completely charmed by Gdansk and have added it to the list of places we would like to return.