Gdansk – 16

The streets were packed with visitors for the city’s annual three-week long St Dominic’s Fair – the largest open-air trade and cultural event in Poland, attracting over a million visitors annually. The Fair was established by Pope Alexander IV in 1260 and is known in Poland as Jarmark Dominika or simply Jarmark. The Fair used to have pardon masses attendance at which could cut your stay in purgatory by 100 days. 

Nowadays, more than one thousand traders, artists and collectors offer only earthly delights for visitors, such as amber, silver, and art. The Fair used to start with bell ringing, a call for ships to come to Gdańsk to ply their wares. It was always an important event for the town with the king and nobility taking part – however, the Fair stopped at the beginning of WWII and didn’t recommence for 33 years. Looking around at the amount of business being made, both traders and visitors were making up for lost time. 

There are many sightseeing highlights including The Armoury with its hideous elongated gargoyles, The Upland Gate, and the Zuraw or Red Crane by the water’s edge. There’s a Ferris Wheel in the harbour area and a Maritime Museum. What’s noticeable here is that the new apartments being built don’t fit in with the other Hanseatic warehouses – they look cheaper and nastier – the old Communist attention to detail has been lost in the interests of greed and making a quick financial killing.    

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