Gdansk, the Baltic Sea and the Teutonic Knights

Gdańsk, home of the Solidarity movement, once a member of the Hanseatic league, is the largest city of the Kashubian ethnic group. It’s come a long way from its origins as a fishing village in the 9th century and is now the jewel of a region which ranges from the sand dunes of Slowinski National Park to the ancient shores of the Vistula River and the tranquility of the Zarnowieckie Lake.

Add the gothic old town of Toruń, the intact fortified medieval walls of Chelmno, the 15th century Basilica in Pelplin, and the magnificent Malbork Castle into the mix and you have a trail of amazing memories, unforgettable cycling, and remarkable sights to discover.

Where better to start your adventure than in Hel? The Hel Peninsula is a sliver of sand which stretches some 35kms to the west of Gdansk. The timeless Kasubian town of Hel is not all fire and brimstone; with the sea breeze at your back, and the scent and the sound of the sea, you just can’t help but relax.

We veer away from the coast and head south into the heart of the Pomerania region. We are in the medieval lands of the Teutonic Knights and traces of their existence are scattered throughout. An extraordinary example of the Teutonic legacy is the 14th century castle in Bytow.

Next, we visit the stunning medieval town of Chelmno; whose fortified walls, five Gothic cathedrals, and Renaissance town hall must have been designed to impress.

The Hanseatic port of Toruń is a special highlight. A Slavic settlement since 1100 BC, a Teutonic outpost since the 13th century, the birthplace of Nicolas Copernicus in the 15th century, and UNESCO World Heritage listed in the 20th century, Toruń will captivate you with its Gothic charm and off-the-beaten-track character.

Another astonishing day beckons as we head towards the majesty of Malbork Castle. This colossal fortified castle is Europe’s largest Gothic fortress. We spend a few hours exploring its multiple defensive walls, labyrinth of rooms and chambers, and exquisite architectural detail and decoration. The late afternoon sun on the 600-year-old red brickwork is indescribable.

Posted in Cycling Holiday Travelogues

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