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Sighteeseeing Gdansk-Oliwa

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Oliwa is not only a town of historical significance, but it is an attractive tourist spot as well. It is mosty noted for its Gothic Post-Cistercian complex which consists of the Cathedral, the Monastery, the New Abbots' Palace, the Abbots' Granary, the Monastery gardens and the Water Forge. However, there are other tourist atractions in Oliwa as well such as the Park of Oliwa and the zoo. Thus, this part of Gdansk is worth a separate visit to enjoy the whole of this part of the city of Gdansk.

The Oliwa Cathedral

The Cathedral is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Bernard. Originally, it was a Cistercian shrine built in the 13th century. The present interior is mainly Baroque in style as the former one, Gothic in style, burnt down in a fire. Over the centuries the church was remodelled and extended to the present dimensions. As far as the architectural structure is concerned, the Cathedral is a triple-aisled basilica built on the Latin cross plan. One of the design peculiarities is the tunnel-like structure due to the 90-metre length and only 8-metre width of the Cathedral.

The Cathedral is mostly famous for its rococo organ. The instrument was made by Jan Wulf and Friderick Rudolf Dalitz, whereas the organ design was carved in the Cistercian workshop by Gross and Alanaus, two Cistercian monks. The organ beautifully decorated with angels playing the trumpet and cherubs is regarded as a unique example of workmanship. The music produced is of the highest quality. The sounds one can hear, like e.g. the angels' trumpets blowing and the bells ringing, are riveting. With its over 7,500 pipes the organ at the time of its construction was the largest one in Europe.

Another centrepiece of the Cathedral is the main altar rich in architectural and sculptural details modelled on the Italian designs. Rich contrasts in colours enhance the illusionist effect. The altar was made by one of the leading Baroque sculptors.

One more object not to be missed while visiting the Cathedral is the tomb of the Kos family dating back to the 16th century. It was made by Willem van den Blocke, prominent sculptor and architect of Flemish origin.

When in 1831 the Prussians dissolved the Cistercian Order, the monastery became a Catholic parish church turned into the Cathedral of the Gdansk archdiocese in 1926.
 
There are 20-minute organ mini-recitals from Monday to Saturday at 12 a.m. and on Sunday at 3 p.m. From May to September additional recitals are given from Monday to Saturday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., whereas in July and August - at 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. As far as Sunday is concerned, additional recitals are given from June to August at 4 p.m. and from July and August at 5 p.m. Moreover, organ concerts are held every Tuesday and Friday during the months of July and August.

The Post-Cistercian Monastery

The Post-Cistercian Monastery houses the Diocese Museum and the Seminary, thus, apart from the museum rooms, only the patio surrounded by the arched cloisters is open to the public. In the western wing there is the Peace of Oliwa Room which got its name from the Polish-Swedish peace treaty signed here in 1660, following the long war of succession.
 
The Diocese Museum is open from July 1st to September 15th from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.( Monday to Friday ) and from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Saturday).

The Abbot's Palace built in the 15th century and extended three centuries later in the rococo style nowadays houses the Modern Art Museum, the branch of the Gdansk National Museum. The Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. On Tuesdays no admission fee is charged.

Next to it there is the Abbots' Granary which nowadays serves as the Ethnographical Museum.

The Water Forge, erected in 1597 and in operation till 1947, was converted into the branch of the Warsaw Science Museum. It is open to visitors from Monday to Friday (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and on Saturdays (a phone booking is needed beforehand).

The Park of Oliwa

The Monastery gardens were turned into the Park of Oliwa in the 18th century. It was one of the abbots' idea to set up the French landscape garden in front of the Abbots' Palace. Then the next abbot extended the Park adding the English landscape garden in accordance with the design by George Saltzmann from Potsdam. After the Prussians confiscated the Cistercian monastery, the Park got into the hands of the Hohenzollern family. However, since 1860 the Oliwa Park has been a public park. It is the favourite leisure destination for the inhabitants of Gdanks. The Park boasts a vast selection of plants brought from all over the world. The major attractions include the alpine plants garden, the orangery, a cascade, the grotto and the hornbeam alley dating back to the 17th century. As this perfectly groomed park abounds in quiet spots, it is a perfect site to sit and relax at any time of year.

Gdansk-Oliwa Zoological Garden      

The Post-Cistercian Water-mill dating back to the 16th century houses the Zoo Management nowadays. The zoo, covering the area of 136 ha, is one of the largest  zoological gardens in Poland. It is situated in the picturesque scenery of the forest and park. Thus, the animals can enjoy spacious enclosures and the natural environment-like conditions. The zoo boasts its rich collection of animals amounting to over 200 species and over 1,100 specimens, many of which are rare endangered species threatened with extinction. Maned wolves, mandrills, pigmy hippopotamuses, Arabian oryxes, capybaras, to mention but a few.
 
As the zoo stretches along a large area, the visitors need to be ready for a nearly five-kilometre walk. In summer it is also possible to admire the animals from the retro train. With its rich collection of animals, attractive location, an esthetic design, a pet zoo and educational facilities, the Gdansk-Oliwa Zoological Garden is definitely worth a visit.
 
 

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