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The history of German–Polish relations is especially prominent in the Baltic city of Gdańsk. As a proud Hanseatic city, Gdańsk was able to assert itself against the Polish, German and Swedish powers. In its slightly more than 1,000-year history, Gdańsk had both city rights and other privileges, and was even a royal city under the Polish crown. The Main City and the Old Town are at the heart of old Gdańsk, where there are many attractions within walking distance. Like Warsaw and Krakow, Gdańsk also has a Royal Route, which, amongst a colourful display of royal power and grandeur, the king would use during his visits to the city. You can – and should – follow this route today to get an impression of the Gdańsk of yore.
The route passes through the Highland Gate, the Prison Tower and the Golden Gate, all the way to Gdańsk’s most famous street, Long Lane. The city’s former wealth is especially evident here. The many ornate, yet typically very narrow patrician houses along the lane are located in what was the best area of old Gdańsk. Those who lived in them usually belonged to the upper class. This will bring you to the Long Market, with the gorgeous Main Town Hall. Its tower offers a breathtaking view of the city below. Neptune’s Fountain is one of the most notable tourist attractions in Gdańsk. It is located at the entrance to Artus Court, once a meeting place for the merchants of Gdańsk. The Royal Route ends at the Green Gate, which is, however, a somewhat misleading name: the gatehouse is an enormous building that was intended to be used as the city residence of the Polish kings, but was never used for this purpose. Today, it houses part of the National Museum.
After you pass through the gate, you will reach the Green Bridge, which connects the shores of the Motława. The Crane Gate, arguably Gdańsk’s most famous landmark, is situated along the boardwalk here. Located on an island in the river, the Great Mill houses 18 mill wheels for producing large quantities of flour. Gdańsk’s St Mary’s Church is an impressive architectural feat out of brick and one of the largest brick churches north of the Alps. On hot summer days, you can explore the beaches of Gdańsk just outside of the city centre. Brzeźno, an old coastal resort, is considered the most beautiful beach in Gdańsk, and can be easily reached with the tram lines 3 and 5. Jelitkowo and Sopot in the north-west can also be reached by tram. The Stogi and Sobieszewo beaches are located in the south-west of Gdańsk. Eleven kilometres long and with the finest sands, the longest beach in Gdańsk is in Sobieszewo.