Hand-painted porcelain, handicraft and art products, souvenirs from remote parts of the globe, sentimental antiques… these are just a few of the many objects you can find in the numerous stalls and booths of St. Dominic’s Fair.
The event originated in the 13th Century, when the Dominicans obtained the Pope’s consent to grant indulgences on St. Dominic’s Day. And what better way is there to honour such an occasion than with joyous celebrations? Already at that time Gdańsk attracted merchants who came from all over Europe, bringing not only valuable articles, but also circus performers, mime artists and stilt walkers who colourfully enriched the regular trading on the streets of Gdańsk.
But there is more to the Fair than a huge gathering of merchants in the Old Town - it is also a major cultural and entertainment event. Every year, this 3-week event hosts lots of concerts and theatre and outdoor performances, while the charming tenement houses on Długa Street host displays and street art galleries. During the Fair, the public officially receives the keys to the city gates, a tradition involving parades by dancers, masqueraders, and jugglers.
Lest anyone forget about the historical period to which these celebrations date back, the Old Town in Gdańsk conceals “the mediaeval quarter”. Tourists can get to know about the then customs, see the outfits of mediaeval knights, squires, and ladies-in-waiting, and purchase souvenirs from the days of yore.
One of the highlights of the Fair is St. Dominic’s Festival called “The Fair’s Soul” (“Dusza Jarmarku”) during which the Dominicans reveal the obscure nooks and crannies of their monastery. Everyone can ascend the tower or visit the crypts and the church vaults, although the most popularity is enjoyed by the exhibition presenting the relics of the hands of St. Jack and the Blessed Ceslaus. The youngest guests at the Fair are welcome to enter a huge loaf of bread, the interiors of which showcase the finest products of Gdańsk bakeries. Those somewhat older will not miss an opportunity to do some bungee jumping, straight into the yawning chasms of the Motława.
There is one more thing that each, big and small, Fair participant should know. The rooster. A bird mentioned in a certain legend everyone needs to hear – on the condition, however, that this is done during the fair. The story of the rooster may bring a terrible curse and many years of misfortunes to the one who learns about it outside the city’s walls. So come to Gdańsk to hear the secret legend and take part in the Fair’s great cultural events.
More information on: Jarmark Dominikański