Sopot has been known recently mainly as a nightlife centre. Connecting Gdansk and Gdynia and being home to two large university departments, this is the place where young people from the whole Tricity gather to party. But as you’ll read, Sopot has more to offer than just party places and Music Festival in Forest Opera. It also has an interesting history and architecture.
A short history of Sopot
The first mention about Sopot comes from 1283, when as a small village it was sold to Cistercians from Oliwa. Since the XVI century rich Gdansk’s and foreign citizens started to construct here summer residences. After the first partition of Poland, it was part of Kingdom of Prussia. Following Napoleon’s defeat in Moscow, his army’s young doctor – Jean Georg Haffner – settled down here and started to change the small village into a resort. Sopot became very popular then and many people started to visit the village for health reasons, which led to its further development. As a result, in 1901 Sopot received town privileges. Shortly after, more residences appeared here, as well as sports facilities, horse racing area, long wooden pier and Forest Opera, home to many music events.
After the Treaty of Versailles Sopot was part of the Free City of Gdansk. It didn’t lose its popularity, and the Grand Hotel and Casino started to serve visitors. After the Second World War, the city came back to Poland and became famous again in 1964, when Forest Opera started to host Sopot Music Festival.
Now Sopot still is popular among Polish tourists and foreigners, who often come here while staying in Gdansk. It has an extensive beach to spend the day, and lots of pubs, clubs and discos to go in the evenings. Sopot is still a resort – there are 5 facilities that treat orthopaedic, rheumatology and cardiology problems. It also hosts Music Festival, but its quality has dropped recently. During winter it is possible to ski at Łysa Gora, which is a very small ski resort in the outskirts. There is also Aquapark with swimming pools and saunas that are open all year. But if you want to get the best of the city, you should take a step off the beaten track. Here you can find our suggested places to visit for one day in Sopot.
Wooden pier in Sopot – Molo
Wooden pier in Sopot, over 500 meters long, is the longest pier at the Baltic Sea. Jean Georg Haffner built the first pier in 1827, but it was only 31,5 meters long then. It reached 315 meters in 1915, and during years 1927-1928 it received present shape. It serves as walking area and marina and offers a good view of Grand Hotel and the coast.
From 28th of April to 30th of September you need a ticket to enter the pier. The ticket costs 8 PLN/ 4 PLN.
Built in 1909 Forest Opera is a wooden amphitheatre at the edge of the city – in the surrounding of dense forest – which is the source of unique acoustics. People usually associate it with Sopot Music Festival which has been hosted here since 1964. Popular singers, including Bryan Adams, Whitney Houston or Arash performed here during past festivals. Now Forest Opera is hosting less popular events, but still, it’s worth going to, even if there is no performance at the time.
Ticket to Forest Opera costs 7 PLN (reduced: 4PLN). There are family tickets available for 2 parents and 1-3 children.
Monte Cassino Street (Monciak)
This is without a doubt the most popular place in Sopot. Once connecting upper and lower parts of the town, now the street is a walking area packed with restaurants and discos.
There are 3 interesting buildings in the street. Going from the train station, first you pass by St George Church. The construction of the neogothic church was finished in 1901, and until 1945 this was a Protestant church. Inside you will find a copy of Holy Mary of Czestochowa figure, which used to be onboard Batory – Polish transatlantic ship. Going down along the street, look left to find number 53. This is the most famous building here, which architecture stands out from the surrounding buildings – Unvertical House also known as Drunken House. Although it looks like a fairy tale house, some companies chose it to use it as an office.
At the end of Monte Cassino Street, just before the wooden pier, there is an Old Lighthouse. This is a former chimney of hospitals for rheumatology, rebuilt in 1975 and transformed into a lighthouse. Now it no longer serves ships but is available to visit its tower to see the city from above. Ticket price is 4 PLN/2 PLN.
Obrońców Westerplatte Street
Although it is Monte Cassino Street that it’s most popular among tourists, there is another street that is worth visiting. Obrońców Westerplatte Street is very close to Monte Cassino Street but is somehow mass tourists skip it during their stay. Small footbridge divide this 560 meters long street into two parts. When you cross it, you enter the street where the time seems to have stopped a long time ago. The street was designed in 1870 to be residential, prestigious area. Many noble citizens from Sopot and Gdansk built here their villas, and many of the buildings survived the war. Although neglected since then, they didn’t lose their beauty and magnificence.
One of the most beautiful and mystery building here is Berger’s Villa. Unfortunately, it is in bad condition and on private property, can only be seen from outside.
Just next to Obroncow Westerplatte street – in Goyka street – there is another building to see. Wilhelm Juencke’s villa was built in the late XIX century. Once it was surrounded by a large garden, but now it’s only the villa and small office house that survived.
Just one street away from Obrońców Westerplatte Street there is Sierakowskich Manor. This is one of the oldest buildings in Sopot. Its history goes back to 1714, when Gdansk Mayor’s summer residence is found on the Sopot’s plan. Kajetan Sierakowski bought the Manor in 1793 – hence its present name. Now Sierakowskich Manor hosts Society of Friends of Sopot. The Society organises many cultural events inside, including poetry evenings, music concerts or theatre plays, and artistic cafeteria “Young Byron” invites for a cup of tea at any time.