Gdansk is a city with over 1000 years of history and tradition, it is not only historic buildings, but also the extraordinary fate of its inhabitants. On the pages of history you can find many romantic loves, stories of passionate lovers, but also the tragic history of forbidden and illicit love. So, ready for a journey through "Gdansk love?".
The bridge of love - lovers versus bakers
The Bridge of Love is a magical place that bends under the weight of padlocks with names, initials, dates or confessions written on them. Such a bridge is located in Gdansk at the intersection of Karenna and Na Piaskach streets.
In fact, the bridge has been called the Bread Bridge for centuries, because in the Middle Ages Gdansk bakers in its vicinity sold their products. The first padlocks appeared on the bridge in 2011 – today there are several hundred of them, and the number of confessions and sighs is still increasing.
St. Catherine's Church
This is the place of the wedding of the Gdansk scholar, Jan Hewelius, with his second wife, Elzbieta Koopmann. Although Elzbieta was younger than her husband, the 16-year difference between them did not prevent them from discovering common passions. Coming from a wealthy merchant family from Gdansk, she willingly spent time with her husband observing the sky, using all measuring tools as well as he did.
It was she who helped her husband create a catalogue of stars, and in one of Hevelius’s works a print showing the spouses serving a large astronomical octant was placed. Elzbieta Koopmann became the first woman astronomer in Poland. After their deaths, they were both buried in the Hevelke family tomb in the church of St. Catherine.
Zacharias Zappio Alley
Zachariasz Zappio Corner is a climatic place, slightly away from the main tourist routes. This small, quiet and beautiful street behind the Church of St. Jana, during the Dominican Fair, turns into the Alley of Kisses. On summer evenings, you can meet couples hugging there, photographing in front of a sculpture depicting two angels whose wings form the shape of a heart.
This place owes its magical character to a legend about the suicide death of a certain monk – wanting to avoid punishment for the forbidden love that arose between him and a mysterious woman. In contrast to the tragic couple from the story, the historical figure is Zachariasz Zappio, who lived in the 17th century and became famous for giving selfless help to children from poor families in Gdansk. He was the godfather of over 70 children, thanks to which he was able to help them financially.
St. Mary's Basilica
The largest brick temple in Europe has also found its place on the Gdansk Love Trail. It was within the walls of the Basilica that Maurycy Ferber and Anna Pilemann secretly met. It was also here, in the Chapel of the Goldsmiths, that Maurycy proposed to Anna, the daughter of a wealthy merchant from Gdansk, but after many trials, she finally decided to marry Henryk von Süchten in 1506.
Maurycy fought for his beloved for some time, but seeing no chance of fulfilment, he finally decided to devote his life to spiritual matters. Wanting to forget about the disappointment of love, he devoted himself to his new duties with such commitment that in 1516 he became the parish priest of St. Mary’s Church. To this day, in the portal of the presbytery built by him, there is the coat of arms of the Ferber family.
St. Mary’s Basilica is also the place of the grand wedding of Jan Hewelius with his first wife, Katarzyna Rebeschke, which took place on March 21, 1635.
The basilica is also the resting place of “English lovers”, i.e. Barbara Rosenberg and Jakub Fluelin. Their love began even before the English House was built. The young Barbara fell in love with the London merchant at first sight. Unfortunately, their happiness was hindered by the law in force at the time, prohibiting marriages with foreigners. The lovers even went to the royal court for help. Fortunately for them, King Zygmunt August, moved by their plight, provided Jakub with a safe conduct guaranteeing him inviolability and allowing him to marry a woman from Gdańsk.
Gothic tenement house
With one of the most charming streets of the city, St. Mary’s Street is connected with the story of an ambiguous relationship between another Polish astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus, and the daughter of a Dutch merchant, Anna Schilling. Copernicus charmed Anna so much that she agreed to become his housekeeper in Frombork, where she left, leaving her husband, Arendt von Schilling (from whom she had been separated for some time anyway). Everything indicates that they were connected by a unique intimacy, going beyond the framework of friendship.
The situation became a thorn in the side of the church authorities, who tried in various ways to force Copernicus to dismiss the woman. Finally, after 7 years of living together, Anna left Gdansk. She was banned from returning to Frombork, which was in force even after the scientist’s death. In the oldest tenement house in the city, Gotyk House, dating back to 1451, during renovation works, the remains of a historic chest with the inscription “Anna” and the date A.D. were discovered. 1539.
The New Bench House, i.e. the Hall of Gdansk
“A Lady from the Window” is a romance from 1891 by Jadwiga Luszczewska (Deotyma), who set the action of the book in seventeenth-century Gdansk. The story begins when Lieutenant Kazimierz Korycki arrives in the city, and during a walk, he noticed Hedwig in the window of one of the tenement houses.
Unfortunately, despite the great feeling that flared up between the two, they were not allowed to lead a life together. The young Hedwig was under the care of the councillor, Jahann Schultz, who chose her as his wife. The appearance of a suitor made Jahann so angry that he locked Hedwig in the attic on bread and water until Kazimierz left Danzig.