Wrzeszcz gives the impression of a separate city – has its own shopping center, station, streets full of cafes and a specific atmosphere. This district of Gdańsk is also characterized by buildings and colorful diversity: on one street, quiet and elegant consulates are adjacent to the loudly flaunting seats of political parties.
Sama ul. Grunwaldzka is very busy, polluted with exhaust fumes and dangerous, despite the fact that in many parts it is drowning in green. Wrzeszcz is also a residential district (neighborhood ul. Batory) and historic (Art Nouveau tenement houses at Jaśkowa Dolina) – the essence of its attractiveness lies in this differentiation.
Through today's Wrzeszcz it led from Gdańsk to Oliwa and further north along the route, referred to by the oldest documents as Via Regia, that is, the Royal Route. The name of Wrzeszcz – formerly Vriest, Vriscze – associated rather with loud argumentation, has the same root, what heather. Wrzeszcz was already mentioned in 1188 r. in connection with granting the Oliwa Cistercians the right to build mills on the Strzyża River, today it flows with difficulty through the central district to the Martwa Wisła. W XIII w. there was a village in this place developed by the Cistercians, picturesquely situated at the foot of forested hills. The inhabitants were engaged in, among other things, skinning and kerolicking. W 1354 r. the settlement enriched the property of the Gdańsk commander, but already in 1412 r. was given to an henchman of the Teutonic Knights of Gdańsk – Gerdowi van der Beckemu. That Dutch knight, who made a career as the mayor of the Main Town and tenant of the Teutonic Mint, he also became famous as a big scammer, who "broke the money", arousing a revolt of the townspeople. The successors of the van der Becke family in Wrzeszcz were the Bischoff family, which during the religious rebellion of 1526 r. she supported King Sigismund the Old, thereby rejecting Protestantism and endangering the majority of Gdańsk residents. In the procession of successive owners, the Prussian King Frederick II took part in the procession, which in the 18th century. bought the town. According to historical rumor, during the Napoleonic episode in the history of Gdańsk, the concubine of governor Rapp himself lived in Wrzeszcz. In the second half of the 19th century. the district began to change significantly: it was transformed from a summer cottage and a barracks house into a residential one, inhabited by officials and merchants coming from Germany. Tram and railway lines were built, shops, artisanal factories, factories. Poles also marked their presence here, creating a Polish district in the vicinity of today's Kościuszki and Chrobrego streets. In the last days of World War II, the road from Gdańsk to Wrzeszcz was the site of execution of German deserters.
Access and orientation
A suburban train and trams go to Wrzeszcz from the main railway station #6, 11 i 12. Aleja Grunwaldzka is the central street, which at the Baltic Opera building changes its name to Zwycięstwa Avenue and as such reaches the Oliwa Gate. The fastest way to get to the center of Wrzeszcz is by cable car (third stop from Gdańsk Główny). The railway station in Wrzeszcz is a convenient communication point – on its southern side there are stops for buses departing to other districts of the city.
North of the rails
Coming out of the station to the north side, you come to Wajdeloty Street, running to a charming roundabout at the intersection of Aldony and Danusi streets. The streets are narrow and built-up only up to the second floor. The windows of many of the local stores bear the distinct features of the past; you can see, that there used to be a butcher or colonial store in the Video shop. The short Aldony Street comes to ul. Lelewela, that is the former Labensweg – made famous in the novel by the Nobel laureate of Literature for the year 1999 Gunter Grass A tin drum. Little Oskar Matzerath from the Tin Drum wandered the streets between the railway tracks and Aleja Legions.
Sam Gunter Grass, writer and visual artist, was born in 1927 r. at ul. Lelewela 13 w – as he put it – "Barracks tenement house", which has not changed much since then, as well as the surrounding houses and cobblestone streets, the war spared this part of Wrzeszcz. The tenement house faces the public library and is covered with a characteristic orange plaster.
Hallera and Zaspa avenues
The network of Wrzeszcz streets to the north-east of the railway tracks is based on the main thoroughfares running northwards: al. Hallera and al. Legionów. Aleja Hallera leads to the Brzeźno district, where is one of the beaches. From the tram windows #13 or 15, driving along the avenue, you can see the great blocks of the Zaspa district. There are so many of them, it's hard to believe, that before 30 years there was only an airport here, and the beach in Brzezno was walked along a field path.
At Chrobrego Street – parallel to Haller – houses the Zaspa cemetery, famous since the last war, where the defenders of the Polish Post were shot, and many prisoners of the Stutthof concentration camp were buried.