The Polish Chapter of Association for Information Systems
Magic of Gdansk|
"Everyone walking the streets of Gdańsk for the first time is surprised by the extreme beauty with which the city has been laid out and the rare splendour and luxurious sumptuousness that are manifest everywhere. What in Gdańsk enchants most are not the churches, although among these one can find much that is worth attention, but the very foundations of the city and the way in which its power and the riches of its burghers have been embodied in its architecture".
Views such as these may be found not only in any poem in praise of the beauty of Gdańsk but also in scientific monographs on the history of European architecture. When serious scientists use the language of poetry there can be but one reason: a real admiration of the city's beauty. Gdańsk has always evoked admiration and love. We find them in expert treaties, travellers’ tales and the reminiscences of former inhabitants forced to leave the city to live afar. Similar reactions are also to be seen today. Anyone who has, if only once, shown Gdańsk to newcomers has been able to experience it. The visitors absorb its immortal beauty without analysing it or wondering what is authentic and what was reconstructed after the terrible destruction of the last war. They commune directly with the history and draw joy and satisfaction from it. This is the best proof of the rightness of the concept of reconstruction as accepted half a century ago.
A great attraction of Gdańsk lies in its old traditions. It is pervaded by its long and often dramatic history, from the visit of St. Adalbert in 997 to the great celebration of its millennium. Its history is present in its old documents and architectural landmarks, in its science and culture and in the everyday life of its people.
The traditional love of freedom has remained ever alive, revealed equally strongly in the 15th century, when the burghers of Gdańsk shook off the yoke of the Teutonic Knights, and in the times of "Solidarność", when they successfully revolted against the Communist system. Its spiritual power was manifest in the achievements of the pioneers of science from Gdańsk, including such distinguished men as the astronomer Jan Hevelius, the physicists Gabriel Fahrenheit and Daniel Gralath and the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. Had they lived in the 20th century, these would have been Nobel prize-winners like their successors, the biochemist Adolf Butenandt, the fighter for freedom Lech Wałęsa and the man of letters Günter Grass.
Gdańsk has always had its outstanding artistic creators of brick, stone and amber masterpieces. The city was and is the world's amber capital. The most famous achievement of the masters from Gdańsk was the Amber Chamber, unfortunately lost in the last war.
The scientific and artistic traditions of Gdańsk have been maintained and developed by its nine institutions of higher education with their 700 professors and 55,000 students.
What is the secret of this magic of Gdańsk? The city is unique. It is not only its art and architecture that are beautiful but also its surroundings. It is situated at the junction of three geographical regions: the Kashubian Uplands, which reach 300 m in height, the Lowlands of Żuławy, the Polish “Holland” with depressions of more than 1m below sea level, and the sandy beaches of the sea shore, known as the Amber Coast, since amber really can be gathered along it. Gdańsk combines the triple beauty of landscape, architecture and history, as well as being a busy seaport and a centre of science, education, industry and culture. Best of all, however, are its people - freedom loving, open to new ideas and friendly to visitors from all over the world. They have a proverb, old but ever valid: "Everyone loves two cities - the one where he was born and Gdańsk". You may prove this for yourselves.
Prof. Andrzej Januszajtis
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