Gdank, a historic city located on Poland’s Baltic coast, is one of the prettiest in the country. Narrow, three-story, Dutch-looking houses line cobblestoned streets in the picturesque Old Town. Every building is painted in subtle and sublime shades of ochre, russet, periwinkle, celadon green and rose gold. During World War II, the city was 90 percent destroyed. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, it was painstakingly rebuilt — brick by brick.
In the early 1980s Gdank became the birthplace of Solidarity — Solidarnosc — a pro-democracy movement that started in the Gdank Shipyards. Helmed by Lech Walesa, who went on to become president of Poland, the nonviolent protests swept the country and led to the demise of the Communist regime in Poland.
Gdank’s coastal position determined the economy of both the city and the region, dating back to the times of the Hanseatic League (1358–1669), when its strategic location made it a wealthy and powerful trading city. Traditional industries in Gdank are still associated with the sea, but software startups and petrochemical, pharmaceutical and biotech companies now bring in foreign investors — from nearby Denmark and Sweden and from other EU countries as well as Great Britain, Asia and the United States. Poland is a member of the European Union but still uses the zloty; however, euros, U.S. dollars and U.K. pounds are widely accepted.
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