The Famous Gdańsk Residents

The obvious fact that Europe ends at the Ural mountains is unquestionable, but only a few know that the estimation of the border between Europe and Asia was made by Philipp Clüver, a geographer from Gdańsk. He established many geographical facts, including areas limited by the Urals from the east, as being part of the European continent.

Another great son of Gdańsk was Hans Hewelke, who named himself Jan Hewelius. Despite he was due to become a merchant, and was a brewer by profession, he is recognised historically as an astronomer. He spent every free moment in his observatory on the roofs of three houses in the Old Town. He examined the Moon, the planets, comets and stars and although his works are not of such fundamental significance as Copernicus’, his input to understanding the mechanisms of the universe is quite important.


Daniel Gralath, representing intellectual, political and financial elites, founded the Gdańsk Natural Sciences Society in the 18th century, together with a group of people interested in the latest scientific discoveries. His passion was the latest electricity-related phenomena which he examined. He discovered the electrostatic interactions phenomenon. These were described by him, but he failed to produce a mathematical formula for his theory. This was done later by Charles Coulomb, a French physicist, and this is the sole reason why students learn about the Coulomb and not the Gralath’s law.

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, the inventor of the mercury thermometer and the creator of the temperature scale, was born in Gdansk and lived on todays’ Ogarna Street. He left the city as a child for the Netherlands and finally settled in the Hague, however Gdańsk remembers him and is proud of his achievements. The Fahrenheit scale, never used in Gdańsk, is still used in some Agnlo-Saxon countries and the guests from these countries are surprised when they realise that Fahrenheit was actually born in the city on Motława.

Artur Schopenhauer, a well-known philosopher, is another famous person who was born in Gdańsk and then left it as a child to develop elsewhere. He was born in a house located on Holy Spirit (Św. Ducha) Street and then emigrated with his parents, who did not want to stay in a city taken over by the Prussian King.

The stormy times of Gdańsk’s history produced yet another person recognised in the whole world. Lech Wałęsa, the icon of the Polish ‘roads towards freedom’, was a leader of the social movement in the 1980’s and of the Solidarity trade union. In Gdańsk there are only a few names of its residents whose fame outreached the state borders and time limits but these persons were still all very important to the world.

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