On the Motława River

On the Motława River

From every point of the Main Town, something irresistibly pulls towards the Motława River. This strength is fostered by the layout of the main streets of Gdańsk, which overlook the Long Coast. Already near the Neptune Fountain, you can hear screaming gulls and smell the characteristic smell of the river, being a mixture of the scent of rotting wood, sea ​​salt, ship oils and seaweed. The last meters from the quay are almost jogged. Why? Because Motława smells like adventure and distant journeys, because the scent of the Motława River connects old and new history like a link.

Going east, you can't see the river, nor the emerging islands. Motława is suddenly unveiled just outside the gates of the streets. And then the viewer succumbs to the "Motława effect”, which is about it, that suddenly facing the river, ships, granaries, noises and smells, it is not really known, is you delighted, or disappointed, or bewildered. Still, under the influence of the "Motława effect", it comes several times, from different sides – from Ołowianka, from the Krowia Gate, to finally understand your condition. Only after leaving Gdańsk do you begin to miss a strange river – and this is the final stage of the effect.

Walking along the buildings of Długi and Rybackie Pobrzeże, you can blend in with the colorful parade of passersby next to cafes and souvenir shops, walkers, sellers of postcards and amber. Colorful advertising, rock music and stylish tenement houses create the atmosphere of this place. Reliable tourists comment on the gloomy charm of the Crane in any weather, granaries, amber. The cameras pop, hear the German speaking, English, Japanese, French, Swedish… and it has been so since the Middle Ages, when the belt over the Motława River was the central one, the busiest point of Gdańsk, where the fairs were held, sailors met, and the merchants unloaded their goods from the ships.

Long Embankment

A walk along the Long Embankment is a good opportunity to see the series of water gates situated on the banks of Motława. Formerly, they had a defensive function, today – rebuilt after the war – serve different purposes. Almost every street in the Main Town, running from west to east, it is ended with a gate.

Gate of the Anchors

The first from the south, between Podwale Przedmiejskie and Ogarna, is the gate of the Anchors.
In fact, a slight outline of the arch and the southern tower remained. Lazy, quadrilateral, the tower, covered with a lofty tent dome, served as a prison for murderers and… place of secret executions, when they wanted to remove the convicts without unnecessary uproar and there were no public executions (e.g.. when it came to the leaders of the rebellious commoners).
When in years 70. the Motława River was cleaned, a large dump of headless skeletons was found near the tower. Today, the tower is occupied by conservators of monuments.

Other gates

Ogarna Street is closed by the Cow Gate from the 14th century., through which in the Middle Ages cattle were driven to slaughter to the Granary Island. Behind the Green Gate, at the exit of ul. Chlebnickiej, stands 15th century, the oldest of the water gates, Chlebnicka Gate with the coat of arms of Gdańsk engraved in the times of the Teutonic Knights (two crosses without a crown). Raw, St Mary's Gate flanked with turrets from the second half of the 15th century., opens Mariacka Street. Before the Crane, closing ul. Wide, there is the gate of the Holy Spirit ending the street of the same name. Gates Świętojańska and Straganiarska already overlook Rybackie Pobrzeże. The northernmost point of the Main Town is the free-standing Swan Tower, where Gdańsk sailors are based.


A few separate words should be given to Żurawi – an unusual hybrid of the gate, tower and crane. The characteristic silhouette of a brick and wooden building with a great "beak" closes ul. Wide, separating the Long Coast from the Rybackie (Rybackie) Coast. For Gdańsk, it is more than a monument – it is the soul of the city enchanted in wood and its symbol.

The current shape was obtained by the Crane at the end of the 15th century. Basically, it served as a port crane (do XIX w. one of the largest in Europe) used for handling goods and setting up masts on board ships. The crane machine was set in motion by two large wooden drums with a diameter 6 m moved by the force of the legs tramping inside people – most often prisoners.

Looking from below at the reconstructed interior, you can only feel sorry for the workers, who walked all day in this oversized hamster carousel. The crane could lift up to 27 m the weight of the weight 4 your. It served the city for five centuries, while serving until the 17th century. defense functions, aided by adjoining round towers. Do 1858 r. had the crane of his master crane, who took care of the technical condition, stamp duty (The crane "earned" fees for lifting services, paid by ship captains) and workers' wages. After the death of the last master, the interior of the crane was occupied by, among others, a slipper factory and a hairdresser. World War II left only 60% walls. Today, admiring the construction of the Crane, hard to believe, that he is the ancestor of his contemporaries, giant cranes from the Gdańsk Shipyard.

White Fleet

Long and Rybackie Pobrzeże are not only riverside promenades, but also a port, where yachts are moored in summer, and all year round the ships of the white fleet, running to Sopot, Gdynia and Hel. If someone doesn't like the long journey, can go into ongoing 40 a minute cruise on the Gdansk port.

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