7th August 2015
In the afternoon I visited the European Centre of Solidarity which is very impressive and unique.
The huge construction you can see next to the entrance to the Gdansk Shipyards is the new European Solidarity Centre which opened on August 30, 2014, the 34th anniversary of the signing of the August Accords. The 5-storey building, which has been designed to give the impression of walls cracking and tilting and is covered in rust-coloured sheet metal reminiscent of a ship’s hull, has been a project many years in the making. It was finally signed into life in 2005 on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the August Accords when a Founding Act was signed in Solidarity Square by 29 joint-signatories including EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and Solidarity legend and former President Lech Walesa.
There are a number of aims to the centre. First and foremost it is designed to be a symbol of the victory of the Solidarity movement and the way that victory was achieved peacefully thanks to the power of people uniting in solidarity with each other. It is both definitions of this word that the centre’s organisers want to pay tribute to and to develop further. The proclamation issued by the joint-signatories in 2005 stated that they wanted the European Solidarity Centre to “become the world’s centre for the ideas of freedom, democracy and solidarity to be fostered”.
Setting around European Centre of Solidarity
The building is centred around a permanent exhibition dedicated to the history of Solidarity and the opposition, which led to the democratic transformation of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. But the exhibition forms just a part of the European Solidarity Centre’s daily function. The building features a library, reading rooms and archives which are completely accessible to researchers and any interested reader alike. The conference rooms and other spaces, such as the winter garden on the ground floor, host debates and concerts serving projects of both the ESC and outside associations aimed at working towards the common good.
A viewing terrace on the roof allows visitors to look out over the remains of the Lenin Shipyards where the Solidarity movement was born. The warmer months will see a bar opened here as well.
The building is free to enter and to move around – there are no scowling security men on the door. The major attraction for the foreign visitor is the permanent exhibition spread over two floors, seven different halls and occupying 3,000m2. This is the one part of the centre for which you need a ticket. This permanent exhibition tells the story of Solidarity; where it began, how it grew and ultimately where it led the people of Poland and the occupied countries of the Communist Bloc. For those familiar with the highly-regarded Roads to Freedom (Drogi do Wolnosci) exhibition, this is its successor and aims to build upon its legacy and develop the story further. It combines traditional display methods with some truly impressive state-of-the-art technology which allows visitors access to authentic artefacts, 3D projections, photographs, film, declassified security service documents and interactive displays.
View from the terrace on the roof. Shipyard..
It is possible to relax on the roof...
So I was relaxing...
More photos tomorrow..