Posted Apr 02, 2012
More than a thousand years old, Gdansk, Poland, was once the richest port on the Baltic Sea, drawing scores of artists and intellectuals from around the world. After World War II, citizens of Gdansk worked together to rebuild the old city and regain its independence. Today, the city is in the midst of an economic boom thanks to the efforts of its proud citizens. Princess passengers will have the chance to explore this booming metropolis and learn about this city's brave history if their European cruise calls in Gdansk.
This stunning seaside town boasts a surprisingly laid-back feel and visitors will want to spend at least a few hours exploring the streets and historic sites. The shipyards are a poignant reminder of the tense moments in 1980 when the nation became a democracy after overthrowing the Communist regime that had been in place. As the symbol for the founding of Solidarity, the self-governing trade union that led Poland to its independence, these shipyards have delivered more than 1,000 ships and served as a stage for numerous strikes. Today, the Lenin shipyards feature a monument honoring the strikers from the 1970s, inviting visitors to pay their respects to the brave men and women who fought for freedom.
St. Mary's Church
St. Mary's Church is visible from nearly every block of Gdansk, and is the largest brick church in the world. A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, this Roman Catholic cathedral was built from 1343 to 1502 A.D. and has the capacity to hold 25,000 people. St. Mary's is best visited by night, due to its dimly lit bricks and looming presence, which allows visitors on a Europe cruise tour a chance to take eerie time-lapsed photos before they enter this massive building. Built by the master Marcin Friese, a 46-chord organ enchants visitors. Additionally, the church also has an incredible timepiece machine that not only tells the hour of the day, but also the lunar phase and positions of the sun.
For a taste of the wonderful modernities of this otherwise old-time city, passengers on a Europe cruise vacation can head to Sopot that boasts the continent's longest wooden pier. This seaside resort town features the oddly shaped Crooked House, which undulates as though it is from a Looney Tunes cartoon. Princess passengers will have many opportunities for shopping during a Europe cruise through the Baltic, and Sopot is a perfect place for collecting souvenirs.