Gdansk Stories and Tips

Shabby relics of Old Gdansk

Orunia Photo, Gdansk, Poland

Relics of Old Gdansk

Although Srodmiescie (Town Centre) district houses most of the popular sightseeing attractions, the visitors interested in the more elusive, off the beaten track and atmospheric if sometimes rough and a bit unsavoury remains of Old Gdansk can find those relics in the small districts adjacent to the town centre and those stretching south of the city past the Brama Nizinna (the Lowland Gate) and along the Trakt Sw Wojciecha, once the main route entering the city from the south, leading to Tczew, Grudziadz, Torun and Lodz.

ANIOLKI

Literally 'Little Angels', Aniolki sit between Wrzeszcz (to the north) and Srodmiescie (to the south), separated by the railway from the shipbuilding area of Mlyniska. The district's housing comprises apartment blocks, some interesting old tenements and villas as well as more modern individual houses, but a visitor to the city is most likely to visit this area when travelling from Srodmiescie to Wrzeszcz, participating in an event that takes place on the open-air stage and fair area called Plac Zebran Ludowych, risking life and limb at one of Lechia Gdansk football matches or – hopefully least likely – attending the vast teaching hospital complex that belongs to Gdansk Medical University.

Most residents of Tri-City are likely to refer to the Aniolki area by the name of the SKM city train station Gdansk Politechnika, and indeed the venerable buildings of Gdansk University of Technology are nearby (though not strictly in the Aniolki district).

The Grand Avenue, a tree-lined old route between Gdansk and Wrzeszcz starts in Aniolki, and the Steffens' Park as well as the tank monument can by found by the side of this busy communication artery.

The proximity of the technical and medical universities means that several studenty clubs, including Kwadratowa and Medyk are nearby, while on the Opera and Philharmonia as well as a large Multikino complex sit on the borders between Aniolki and Wrzeszcz.

ORUNIA

Or, to give it the full name, Orunia, Sw Wojciech and Lipce, is the southernmost district of Gdansk with a long history. Initially developed along the Radunia Canal, dug in order to provide water to Gdansk, Orunia prospered as the entry point to the city, with mills and locks. Among the most illustrious residents are the Polish king Jan Sobieski who had his summer residence here, as well as the author of the Polish national anthem Jozef Wybicki and the parents of the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer who was in fact born in Orunia.

Modern Orunia has less illustrious connotations, being traditionally very much a working-class, poor area of often very low-quality housing, especially in the sections closest to the centre of the city. Even now, some pre-war tenements look as if they have not been touched since the times of the Free City, and parts of the post-war communist era developments also turned into something of sink estates. Orunia has been traditionally considered a rough area although parts have gentrified considerably in the period following the change of the system in 1989.

The district is not without its attractions tough, the chief of which is Park Orunski, once among the grandest in the city and now slowly regaining its former glory.

Further south, Lipce and Sw Wojciech are semi-rural suburbs with agricultural activity still in evidence, though being surpassed by housing developments. Lwi Dwor (Lions' Mansion) that stands by the Trakt Sw Wojciecha in Lipce is an excellent example of an inn, typical of the buildings constructed by the Dutch settlers of the area in the 17th century.


OLD CHELM

The southern part of the administrative district of Chelm situated on the hilly upper terrace of Gdansk has a fairly long history going back to at least the 15th century. In the 18th century, following the 1st partition of Poland, the area boasted a town of 10,000 people that competed with Gdansk. This was completely burned down during the Napoleon's siege of Gdansk in 1807 and the area remained a bit of a wasteland.

In the 1930s housing for the shipyard workers was constructed in the part now known as Stary Chelm (Old Chelm) while the nearby Bishops' Hill (Biskupia Gorka) which straddles the borders of Srodmiescie and Chelm boasts good views of Gdansk, some old fortifications and many pre-war and 19th century tenement houses, now often inhabited by rough council tenants. Old Chelm is also a location of the oldest Jewish cemetery in Gdansk, for a long time a dilapidated and ruined wreckage but recently - from 2008 tidied up and a more fitting remainder of the Jewish role in the history of Gdansk.

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