I was fascinated by the history of Gdansk. It’s a city in Northern Poland at the edge of the Baltic Sea with a strong German influence (it was officially incorporated in to Poland after World War II). But in intermediary years Gdansk was a free city state. Twice. The first time was in the 1800s and the second time was between WWI and WWII (Gdansk as a free city state was in Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points).
Gdansk played an insanely large part in modern history. It’s basically where WWII began. The German invasion of Poland started on the 1st of September 1939 with the attacking of the Free City of Gdansk. (Though some historians say that Wielun was bombarded several hours before the attack on Gdansk began.) As you can imagine, the city was utterly destroyed. It’s almost impossible to look at pictures of it in 1945 and understand how it got back to into the picturesque state that it lives in now. And then later it’s where the Solidarnosc (Solidarity) movement started in 1980. Under the Solidarity movement and the leadership of Lech Walesa Poland freed itself from communism.
Because it’s access to the Baltic is what made Gdansk so historically important, I wanted to start my travel photos with the ones I took along the waterway, along Dlugie Pobreze and the Motlawa river area. The most famous site along the water’s edge is the Zuraw or Old Crane. The crane is actually the defining symbol of Gdansk and it harkens back to its time as one of the great trading towns of Europe. The Zuraw is from 1442, and was the biggest working crane in the world. (It could lift 4 tons up 11m. All this was done by a team of men who turned two massive 6 m diameter wheels inside.) The Crane was also one of the defensive structures of the old city. Sadly, 80% of the original Crane’s structure was destroyed in the Battle of Gdansk in 1945, but it’s since been rebuilt. The Polish Maritime Museum is adjacent to the Crane.
One of the most surprising things to stumble across on the waterfront were the Pictish Stones. These were ancient stones (10,000 years old) found along a now-modern road several hundred years ago. The one that I’ve shown below is called “the old hag”. It was just such a shock to stumble upon a piece of ancient history!
Probably because of the lack of water in my natural habitat (New Mexico), I am absolutely fascinated by maritime areas.