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City of legends

The late, lamented Professor Jerzy Samp called Gdansk a city of “magical spaces”. Those on the lookout for such spaces should, therefore, equip themselves with his book titled “Feast of the Century. Gdansk Legends Old and New”.

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City of legends (1/1)
The Virgin Mary at St. Mary’s Basilica
The Virgin Mary at St. Mary’s Basilica
Gdansk Tourism Organization

 

It is said that legends are not to be fought but to be told... which is why no self-respecting tourist route can do without them.

Let us listen to some Gdansk tales, then. Let us begin with St Mary Church (or the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in the Main Town). When inside the temple, it is difficult to miss the sculpture of the Madonna which stands in St Anne's chapel. The stone piece was created in the early 15th century and is considered to be one of the greatest examples of mediaeval art.

Now let us close our eyes for a moment and listen to the tale. Long ago, a young apprentice fell in love with the widow of his late master. His rival suitor was his colleague, a good-for-nothing and a scoundrel. After work, they would sit in the port tavern, drinking beer and arguing about who had a better chance of winning the woman’s heart. Heated discussions soon turned into squabbles, which resulted in hatred between the two. As is usually the case, their pent-up aggression soon found release in a fight.

When the boys jumped at each other, the scoundrel suddenly whipped out a knife. The charging knifeman stumbled on a rock and fell. The other boy ran to him and realised with dread that his friend was dead, having stabbed himself with his own knife. Though innocent, the apprentice was apprehended and sentenced to death for murder. His explanations fell on deaf ears, as did the explanations of the widow. The only thing left was to pray fervently to the Holy Lady. As his last wish, he asked for sculpting tools and a block of stone.

The next day, the guards assigned to lead the boy to where he was supposed to be executed saw a beautiful sculpture in his cell. After examining the boy’s creation, the city authorities concluded that only an innocent man could sculpt such a beautiful Madonna. And so, as is the case with legends – everything turned out well...