Trip Tips: On the trail of Solidarnosc in Gdansk
By Pawel Lapinski
GDANSK, Poland (Reuters) - Gdansk, the biggest city in northern Poland, seaside destination and party zone, was once a key center of opposition to Communist rule.
This momentous history has left its mark on the city, and traces of key events and personalities from that era can still be seen if you follow the trail of these main sights:
Birthplace of trade union Solidarnosc (Solidarity) and the workplace of its leader Lech Walesa, the Lenin Shipyard used to employ about 20,000 people. But the days when its noisy industry echoed around the city and cranes punctuated its skyline are over. The shipyard failed as capitalism took over and has become a patchwork of workshops and manufacturing sites.
Some buildings are now occupied by music clubs, and the complex also houses an art gallery and a yacht shipyard known for its boats designed for Gulf Arab sheikhs and eastern oligarchs.
Some Communist propaganda still survives, with health and safety posters and murals visible around the shipyard.
Don’t fail to visit the recently opened European Solidarity Centre, where an exhibition will guide you through life behind the Iron Curtain. Among its interactive exhibits are a riot police car from the 1980s and printing machines from the Solidarnosc underground workshop. You may even run across Poland's most famous mustachioed electrician himself, as Walesa's institute is located on one of the floors. Continued...