The architecture of Sopot is unique and definitely different from the Gothic-Baroque Gdańsk and the modernist Gdynia. The construction momentum associated with the flourishing of the countryside, and with the time of the city of Sopot as a resort, coincided with the greatest popularity of sophisticated and complicated forms of eclecticism.
The oldest monuments of Sopot which can be classified in the “summer” category – e.g. the Sierakowski Mansion of two hundred years – represent forms of classicism. Houses of Sopot residents dating two hundred years back used to be brick constructions of simple shapes.
This was the way Sopot looked at the times when Dr. Haffner started organising his first resort. In the second half of the 19th Century, the period of strengthening the position of Sopot as a health resort introduced various changes into the city’s architecture.
For any European in the 19th Century the image of the health resort was that of the Swiss modfels and as Sopot wanted to be well remembered it followed the pattern of architecture more typical of the Alpine regions.
XIX century spa
However, the true eclectic character of the place was gained at the end of the 19th Century and first decade of the 20th Century. The “romantic historical style” became extremely fashionable then, a style which took full advantage of all the previous architectural periods and had full scope to develop in Sopot.
Attention was not only paid to beauty and detail in the then being constructed houses and pensions but the rich decorations and original forms of the buildings were also promoted.
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The method was simple, and included lowering taxes on real property from the owners of property with decorated facades. This led to the accumulation of various bays, little balconies, towers, galleries, railings, cornices and everything that could be included in the facades of the newly-constructed buildings.
Even secession found its place in this system, as it appeared with its curvy lines, not only in the architecture itself but also as the decorative element of Sopot’s houses. The architectural mix referred to as the “Sopot style” in this city established in 1901 gave the place a specific atmosphere which can be felt even today.
Jean Georges Haffner
Luckily Sopot avoided serious damage during WWII and the contemporary city not only values its architectural tradition but also makes sure that the new buildings do not strike you as looking too modern. It remains a place where beautiful buildings are constructed, despite the fact that some developments have also been criticised.
The combination of the High-Street style in the main parts of the city with the cosy architecture of the less-popular areas and the monumental facilities of the resort – these are the main Sopot resort-style features.