Walking in Gdansk, Poland, on a sunny, September day, I enter St. Mary’s gate to discover Mariacka Street glowing with gold—not the shiny precious metal that we usually think of but the burnished golden glow of amber—Baltic gold. Shop owners have brought their goods outside to lure shoppers like me into their stores. Tables and stands are heaped with amber jewelry and decorative items of all kinds. The scene is a heady-mix of old-world charm and all things amber.
Iron-railed stoops lead down to the cobblestone pavement from buildings decorated with rich architectural details giving Mariacka Street an intimate feeling. You’d be hard pressed to find evidence on the pedestrian-friendly street that this area of Gdansk was nearly flattened during World War II. The restoration doesn’t look new, like some I’ve seen in other European cities. Perhaps it’s because the stoops have been reconstructed with the original stone and engravings of patrician and religious symbols that graced the destroyed medieval buildings have been meticulously recreated.
Don’t just shop for amber in Gdansk. Be sure to visit the Amber Museum for a fascinating lesson in Baltic gold.
On my golden walk , I merely browse. There’s an art to knowing which golden piece of amber is real and which is fake. Later in the day, I learn the difference from an expert, but not soon enough for any purchases on my exploration of Mariacka Street.
Disclosure: Airberlin, VisitBerlin and the City of Gdansk provided this travel experience. As always, the opinions are my own.