Gdańsk Shipyard


Gdańsk’s former Lenin Shipyard is a key fragment of 20th-century European history. It was here that the first major cracks in Eastern Europe’s communist wall appeared when discontent with the regime boiled over into strikes and dissent, brutally stamped out by armed force in 1970. A decade later an electrician named Lech Wałęsa emerged to rouse crowds of strikers here, leading to the formation of the Solidarity movement and ultimately to democracy for Poland and most of the Eastern bloc.

However, since the giddy years of the Wałęsa presidency, the yard has largely lost its hallowed status and at one time the vast area was even slated for redevelopment and general gentrification. Nothing ever came of this and despite a number of false dawns for the local shipbuilding industry, things have never reached anywhere near the scale of the postwar years. All visitors can see of the shipyard are the huge cranes, visible even from the old centre, and a few scruffy perimeter buildings.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Gdańsk attractions

1. Sala BHP


The Sala BHP is the former Health and Safety building where the 21 demands were signed off and where strikes were coordinated. The hall has been left…

3. European Solidarity Centre

0.15 MILES

Opened in 2014, and housed in a truly awful example of 21st-century architecture (its rusty steel plates were designed to evoke ships under construction),…

4. Berlin Wall

0.27 MILES

Near the mammoth headquarters of Solidarność on Wały Piastowskie stands a lonely piece of the Berlin Wall. Next to it stands the wall Lech Wałȩsa climbed…

5. St Bridget's Church

0.39 MILES

Founded over 700 years ago, St Bridget’s was reduced to medieval brick dust in 1945, and until 1970 only the outer walls were left standing. Very little…

6. St Catherine's Church

0.42 MILES

The largest monument of the Old Town is St Catherine’s Church, Gdańsk's oldest, which was begun in the 1220s. It was the parish church for the entire town…

7. Museum of WWII

0.42 MILES

Opened in 2016, this striking piece of modern architecture is a bold addition to the northern end of Gdańsk's waterfront. It has rapidly become one of…

8. Great Mill

0.43 MILES

Standing conspicuously opposite St Catherine’s Church, the Great Mill certainly lives up to its name. Created by the Teutonic Knights in northern Poland’s…