Amber, “the Gold of Baltic Sea” can be found in museums, in churches, and on the stalls on the streets. It can be found virtually everywhere in Pomerania. The magic stone has a strong background in local culture. This is not surprising, as amber has been collected and processed for centuries on the Baltic Sea.
A geologist, when asked about amber, would say it is a fossilised tree resin from the trees which grew in the pre-glacial era on the terrains of today’s Scandinavia. A large river which flowed over the area now covered by the Baltic Sea moved amber from the north to the areas of today’s southern sea coasts. Chemists or physicists will describe the unusual features of amber, which is not much heavier than water so it flows in a salt solution, has strong electrostatic properties and produces a nice smell when burned. A historian or archaeologist would note that amber has been present in the history of the Baltic coast since the first humans appeared there. However, no scientist is able to explain the magic of amber, which has always affected people’s imagination.
Since the first notions of the Gdańsk area in written historical sources the presence of amber prevails. It was the reason for the Romans’ to enterprise expeditions on the famous Amber Road. Illegal possession of amber at the times of the Teutonic Knights inflicted capital punishment. Jewellers could make real masterpieces of art in amber, which today is one of the commercial and tourist attractions of Gdańsk.
The natural history of amber and the role it played in the local culture is presented in the Museum of Amber located in the Prison Tower, in front of the gate leading to the Long (Długa) Street. It is one of the most interesting museums in the region, which depicts the history of amber, and its outstanding exhibits, including a real rarity - a specimen of a lizard captured in the resin, as well as the amber’s presence in history, medicine, magic and the masterpieces of the amber craftsmen of Gdańsk, past and contemporary. The Archaeological Museum on St. Mary's (Mariacka) Street has also an impressive fine collection of amber. A huge amber monstrance the St. Brigit’s church is very impressive, as well as the unfinished amber altar there. The closest contact with the beauty of amber in various styles, shapes and sizes and prices is guaranteed by Gdańsk street stalls, hundreds of workshops and amber shops scattered around the historical centre of the town. The most patient ones can challenge their luck on the sea shore, particularly after storms, where gems of various sizes can be found in the sand.
Various types of amber can be found all over the world. However, there is no other place where it is so beautiful in its magic variety as at the Baltic Sea. Gdańsk, the world capital of amber, has to be visited by those who want to find out about amber as an element of multi-century culture, and experience its magical and natural values.