Gdansk, Long Market Dlugi Targ

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Długi Targ

Top choice in Gdańsk

Długi Targ was once the main city market and is now the major focus for visitors. Things have gotten a bit touristy here over the last decade (dubious amber stalls, restaurant touts), but look up from the crowds to appreciate the period architecture, all of which is a very selective postwar rebuild, of course.

According to local legend, the Neptune Fountain next to the Town Hall once gushed forth with the trademark Gdańsk liqueur, Goldwasser. As the story goes, it spurted out of the trident one merry night and Neptune found himself endangered by crowds of drunken locals who couldn’t believe their luck. Perhaps that’s why, in 1634, the fountain was fenced off with a wrought-iron barrier. The bronze statue itself was the work of Flemish artist Peter Husen; made between 1606 and 1613, it is the oldest secular monument in Poland. A menagerie of stone sea creatures was added in the 1750s during the restoration of the fountain.

The nearby 1618 Golden House, designed by Johan Voigt, has the richest facade in the city. In the friezes between storeys are 12 elaborately carved scenes interspersed with busts of famous historical figures, including two Polish kings.

The Long Market is flanked from the east by the Green Gate, marking the river end of the Royal Way. It was built in the 1560s on the site of a medieval defensive gate and was supposed to be the residence of the kings. Today it houses an art gallery.