The history of Gdansk - part one :)
The beginnings of Gdañsk go back to the year 980.Shortly before Easter 997 St Wojciech or Adalbert, a missionary and bishop of Bohemia, arrived in the area only to be soon killed by the pagan Prussians. A Benedictine monk, Jan Canaparius from the Aventine monastery described his life and death. In the records he referred to "urbs Gyddanyzc" or the city of Gdañsk as the place where the saint was believed to have baptised a large number of the newly converted. In this context today 's city on the Motlawa River was first mentioned in writing.
The complex combining a castle-town, city, and port began to take shape in the second half of the tenth century. Gdañsk then ruled by the dynasty of Pomeranian princes had a mixed population where the local Slavs lived side by side with growing numbers of merchants and craftsmen that arrived from the west. In the 12th century Gdañsk must have already grown to a large settlement for its times with several hundred homesteads, an open market, harbour, wharf, and defence bulwark.
Thanks to Prince Swietopelk II the Great, Gdañsk obtained city rights (of the Lübeck type). The ruler 's son and last prince of the Gdañsk Pomerania, Msciwoj II also called Mestwin, bestowed his land to Przemysl II, Prince of Great Poland in an act drawn in Kêpno in 1282. That was a step of great political significance, as it enabled unification of the Polish territories. However, in view of the chaos that spread in Gdañsk following the death of the Czech king Vaclav (the Œwiêc family having sold Pomerania to the Margraves of Brandenburg), the governor of the castle, Bogusza, called on the Teutonic Knights for help. Those, having captured the castle in 1308 butchered the population. Since then the event is known as "the Gdañsk slaughter ".
What sort of local customs?
Well, it seems to be the custom of students to sit in the streets and chatter. It's the local custom to hang lace curtains at an open window in summer. It's the local custom to hang enormous banners on buildings as a way to advertise. (think I prefer it to our ugly billboards) And it's the local custom to talk to strangers while walking your dog.... well, you get the idea.
Oh! And I particularly enjoyed the local custom of making good use of the street furniture when I was beginning to wear down!!! :)
Dogs and law
Locals keep their dogs leashed but they, in contrast to visitors, rarely muzzle them in Gdansk. No wonder, most dogs don't like a muzzle. However, as I know, the law requires dogs been both leashed and muzzled in public space unless otherwise stated (in some parks for example). I've noticed that city guards try to enforce that law in downtown Krakow but surprisingly not in Gdansk. My dog used not to accept any muzzle in the past. I guess, he would prefer to live in Gdansk now.
I've seen unleashed, even alone, although usually muzzled dogs, running in a park in Gdansk. Is Gdansk a dog friendly city or maybe its citizens are not about to obey the law regarding to dogs? Anyway, better don't try to take your dog unleashed or unmuzzled to the city bus or tram. The driver don't let you in.
Don't miss the old lighthouse
The lighthouse was located here (in Nowy Port) in the early 17th century and it's still working. Worth seeing although it's far from the beaten path and tourist visit it not very often. How to reach it? It's on the other side of the canal by Westerplatte monument and you can see directions on the webpage.
The most general direction is that the lighthouse is situated close to ferry terminal.
Go off the beaten path street
Whenever you visit St. Catherine's church (a must see) turn backstreet (Katarzynki Street) to see a group of four houses built in secession style. They have typical for the old Gdansk (and... many Hanseatic cities in, say, the Netherlands, Germany, Estonia etc.) richly decorated front facades with a triangle top. Quite large tarasse put in front of each house, a few steps above the street level and seperated by iron fence is a typical architectural feature of Gdansk rich houses from before WWII. The fence of these tarasses is often decorated by stone sculptures.