Let Sopot surprise you


Krzywy Domek in Sopot

This article about buildings that wheeze, squeeze and dance made me think of a picturesque Polish seaside resort Sopot and especially about one of its unique and unusual sights:

“Imagine wandering along Monte Cassino Street in Sopot, Poland (I know, I know, you imagine this all the time), and you bump into this: the Krzywy Domek, a local shopping center built in 2004 that looks like a child’s drawing that got squished. (Or, as some Poles have said, it seems to be melting.) Bugs Bunny could move in here with Elmer Fudd and live happily ever after.”

Indeed, I imagine wandering along Sopot’s Heros of Monte Cassino Street all the time ever since I was there about a year ago. Affectionately called “Monciak” by the locals, it’s the city’s main pedestrian drag buzzing with tourists, diners, and shoppers. There are many things to look at and explore along the way: steepled neo-Gothic St. George’s church, historic Balneological Spa, cool street art, or fresh-from-the-oven zapiekanka (a halved baguette typically with mushrooms and cheese for the purists but also other topics for the adventurous). But everyone new to Sopot unmistakably pauses in front of Krzywy Domek, or Crooked House.

Krzywy Domek – note the turning heads

The structure was inspired by the fairy tale illustrations of famous Polish children’s books illustrator Jan Marcin Szancer and the work of Swedish artist Per Dahlberg. It’s featured in many rankings of the strangest buildings in the world and – if you’ve been partying – makes you count how many drinks you had. The interior houses great restaurants, cafes, shops, and commercial offices. I loved this quirky urban space and you can see why for yourself in this virtual tour. Deliciuos food at Tawerna Sopocka, great atmosphere and live music in Cafe del Arte! Now, culinarily and artistically restored, let’s continue down Monciak…

Walking along Monciak

Pedestrian paradise

We finally reach the beautiful facade of Balneological Spa. Built in 1903, it is still an active treatment center for rheumatism and related ailments, using local bromide spring water for therapy. The city’s rise to prominence dates back to the 16th century when it became a popular vacation spot for rich Gdańsk merchants and a transformation from a fishing village to world-class destination began. Thanks to its picturesque surroundings and mineral waters, Sopot gained international standing when Jean Georg Haffner, medical doctor in Napoleon’s army, settled there and founded the first spa in 1824. Sopot, known then as Zoppot, was a part of the Kingdom of Prussia at the time and became a favorite of aristocrats, including Emperor Wilhelm II. After the treaty of Versailles in 1919, Sopot became a part of the Free City of Danzig, a semi-autonomous city-state squeezed between Germany and newly independent Poland. It continued to draw international visitors, with a new casino in what is now Grand Hotel as an added attraction.

From Sopot with love – auf Deutsch (Image: http://www.stare-fotografie.com)

After the chaos of WWII and the decades of relative drabness under communism, Sopot today regained its past glory and international appeal.

Balneological Spa and light house

A fountain with bromide spring water

Rose garden next to the Balneological Spa

From the Spa, the beach is only steps away. Salty breeze fills the air. Distant song of the waves crashing against the pier gets closer and closer. Sopot Pier – Molo – is the city’s great pride. Dr. Haffner built the first 31.5-meter-long structure back in 1827 and it was expanded several times. The current pier, 511.5 meters long, was built in 1928 and has been a delight to residents and visitors alike ever since.

Sopockie Molo – Sopot Pier

View of the city from the pier

Grand Hotel: 127-room grande dame of Sopot

The Baltic Sea doesn’t usually come to mind at the top of the list of fun beach vacation spots – the water is kind of cold, weather can be sketchy. But if the weather cooperates like it did for me, Sopot beach is a great place to be.

Sun and fun at the Baltic Sea

A different perspective

If it rains, well, I at least get photos like this when the rain stops:

Rainbow over the Sopot Pier

And even if the weather is cool, there is always a refreshing evening stroll along the beach to enjoy…

Maritime night scape

Molo lights

…and nightlife on Monciak!

Krzywy Domek at night

Lively Monciak after dark, St. George’s Church in the background

Read on:


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