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  • Writer's pictureDamian Brzeski

Main Railway Station in Gdańsk - Over 170 years of railway history in Gdańsk

The Gdańsk Główny Railway Station is not only an important transport hub, but above all a monument of great historical and architectural value. Its history begins in the 19th century, when, on the initiative of the then city authorities, it was decided to build a new, impressive railway station.

The grand opening took place in 1900, and the design of the building was entrusted to outstanding architects who gave it a characteristic neo-Renaissance style.

Since its inception, the station has witnessed many important historical events, playing a key role in the life of the city and the region. Its walls have seen both joyful farewells and touching returns, becoming an inseparable element of the local community.

In the interwar period, the station was expanded, which further increased its importance as the communication center of Pomerania.

Recently, in the face of dynamically developing tourism and the needs of modern travelers, a decision was made to thoroughly renovate and modernize the station, which gave it a new glow and further emphasized its historical importance.

I invite you on a short journey through almost two centuries of railway history in Gdańsk.

The main station in Gdańsk, view from May 3

History of the Main Railway Station in Gdańsk

Gdańsk Główny Railway Station, formerly known as Danzig Hbf. or the Central Station, today located at Podwale Grodzkie Street , has been named after Mieczysław Jałowiecki since December 5, 2023. Its history dates back to the end of the 19th century, when, as a result of leveling part of the city fortifications, its construction began in 1896. 5 million marks were allocated for the implementation of this project.

The main part of the station, the Empfangsgebäude, i.e. the welcome building, was put into use on October 28, 1900, and the whole was officially opened two days later, when the first train to Tczew left from here.

When designing the station, Alexander Rüdell and Paul Thoemer from the Ministry of Public Works in Berlin were inspired by the Gdańsk Neo-Renaissance, creating a facility that fits into the city's skyline not only functionally, but also aesthetically.

Johann Hermann Georg Cuny, an architect from Gdańsk, supervised the preparation of working drawings and the construction itself, carried out by Hermann Prochnow's company.

The station's characteristic red brick facade, combined with light sandstone, refers to Dutch Mannerism, which dominated the architecture of Gdańsk at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries.

A distinctive element is the 48-meter high station tower, which initially served as a water tower . Its cupola, covered with copper sheet, is a variation on the top of the tower of St. Catherine.

The station is dominated by glazed tiles, and the foundations are made of Silesian granite.

The building is decorated with numerous turrets, dormers and gables, and inside there is a spacious passenger hall with ticket windows and a number of other utility rooms.

The interior of the train station in Gdańsk city center

Over the years, the station has undergone many changes, adapting to the growing needs of travelers.

Rebuilt in 1914, expanded with new waiting rooms and a dining room, and during the Second Free City of Gdańsk managed by the Polish State Railways, it even survived an arson attack in March 1945.

Rebuilt after the war, with modern amenities and renovated commercial space, it became not only a witness of history, but also the center of urban life.

A general renovation of the station, carried out in the early 1990s, restored its original appearance to a large extent. The station, with its rich history and architecture, remains a key point on the map of Gdańsk, combining the heritage of the past with the requirements of the present.

Gdańsk main railway station

The beginning of the railway in Gdańsk and the first station

Few people realize that the history of the railway in Gdańsk hides fascinating secrets that are still waiting to be discovered by residents and tourists.

One of them is the location of the first railway station in the city, which was located almost on the opposite side of the city, if we look from the perspective of today's widely known Main Railway Station at Podwale Grodzki.

This disclosure may surprise many, because the modern map of Gdańsk is dominated by the presence of one main railway junction, while history hides in its recesses the story of two railway stations that once operated in the city, making Gdańsk not only an important point on the travel map, but also a place of innovation and developing infrastructure.

This is not only evidence of the dynamic development of railway transport, but also an interesting part of Gdańsk's heritage, the traces of which, although somewhat forgotten, can still be found while walking around the city.

On July 19, 1852, Gdańsk witnessed a historic moment when the first steam locomotive, pulling three wagons, traveled the newly built route from Tczew.

This event ushered in the era of the railway, which was to revolutionize the transport of goods and passengers, becoming the dominant means of transport.

eastern railway station

The first connection between Gdańsk and Berlin, launched eighteen years later, attracted the attention of the highest-ranking figures, including the King of Prussia. The development of the railway network in Gdańsk Pomerania, covering over 450 kilometers of track, one third of which was double track, strengthened the position of the railway as a key means of transport, competing even with shipping on the Vistula.

The 19th century brought Gdańsk's decision to build its first railway station, which was made possible thanks to a breach in the city's defensive embankment.

The Brama Nizinna station, which was the terminus for trains, was located at a strategic point where the track from Tczew was approaching the city, crossing the Motława flow with an iron bridge.

This neo-Gothic building, equipped with two floors and a shelter over the platform, was at one time the gate to Gdańsk, providing the city not only with new transport opportunities, but also economic ones.

The official opening of the line, honored by the arrival of the King of Prussia in August 1852, not only strengthened Gdańsk as an important transport hub, but also contributed to the development of railway connections in Pomerania and beyond - with Berlin, Königsberg and Warsaw.

Map of the eastern railway from Gdańsk

Güter Ostbahnhof – Eastern Freight Station

The station's name, Ostbahnhof, reflected its connections with the Prussian Eastern Railway (Ostbahn), and its strategic location allowed the departure of both passenger and freight trains, which was a significant impetus for the city's development.

Freight traffic, intensified by the proximity of the port and the possibility of loading directly from ships, further increased its importance.

Merchant Railway on Granary Island

A particularly important element of Gdańsk's infrastructure was the Granary Railway, financed by the city's merchant corporation.

This unique infrastructure, enabling direct transport of goods from warehouses on Granary Island, operated until the end of World War II, expressing the economic innovation and entrepreneurship of Gdańsk merchants.

Gdańsk freight station

Schlachtbahn – a railway to the Gdańsk slaughterhouse and the power plant on the Ołowianka River

In addition to transporting goods and passengers, the railway also had other specific uses, such as the line leading to the city slaughterhouse, which shows how versatile this form of transport could be used in city life.

The first railway station in Gdańsk, although over time it was replaced and somehow degraded only to the role of a freight station, went down in history as a witness and participant of many key moments for the city, from its foundation, through wars, to historical moments IV republic.

This is a fascinating chapter in the history of Gdańsk, often unknown even to its inhabitants, full of innovations and changes that have determined the face of today's city.



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