In my last post I showed you how colorful and beautiful Gdansk is, but that was not the only reason why I wanted to visit this city. I also wanted to go there for the street art! Yes, Gdansk has also a creative side, or better said the area of Zaspa has it. This arty neighborhood is only 10 minutes away from Gdansk main station. At first sight Zaspa seems like an ordinary suburban area. You see one grey apartment block after the other. But if you look a bit further, you will see that every apartment block is an art piece itself. The sides of the apartment are used as a canvas for gigantic vertical art works (so called murals). Looking for street art has never been so easy, because we only had to to walk across all the apartment blocks. This way I saw a great part of the 58 murals in Zaspa. In this article I will share with you my favorites.
Zaspa, the open air art gallery of Gdansk
Street art in Zaspa is part of the Monumental Art Collection which started in 1997 with 10 murals. Why in 1997 you ask? Well, Gdansk existed for a 1.000 years in 1997 and to celebrate this millennium artist Rafal Roskowinski organized an international Monumental Painting Festival in Zaspa. Almost twenty years later there are more than fifty murals you can see in Zaspa. This increase was mainly driven by the last eight editions of the Monumental Art Festival (2009-2016). Every year the festival had a special theme and in 2016 it was ‘Waiting’. In my mind this also refers to the ending of the Monumental Art Festival and the round-up of the urban collection. Zaspa is a true record-holder when it comes to murals in a residential area. You can also still see the older murals from the nineties. At Dywizjonu 303 you will find an enormous image of Pope John Paul II from 1997. This mural shows the moment that the Pope visited Zaspa in 1987. A special moment in a then communist country. The colors might not be as vivid as you see with the other pieces, but it is still quite impressive.
Murals, more than just gigantic art
The Monumental Art Collection is more than just creating murals. In 2009 a platform was set up called Gdansk School of Mural that focused on monumental wall paintings. This artist collective aims at restoring and preserving the original meaning of the mural. Murals have a socio-political background and are often created as a reaction to recent events. They tell something to people, make them think or spread a certain message. But moreover, a mural is just super impressive because of its size. You just cannot ignore them!
My favorite mural in Zaspa was the one made by the American artist Shai Dahan in 2013. The inspiration for this piece was a story about an American plane in the 1920’s that had to make an emergency landing in a field of cows. The pilot did everything he could to avoid hurting the cows. This love for animals really comes across in the mural. There are little birds on the pilot’s hands and his coat is partly taken over by nature. Also he comes across more as a forest ranger than as pilot.
I also really liked the mural showing in the header of this post. It is a bit of a weird piece, because on the one hand it is very joyfull with some soft colors and a t-shirt with the text I Love You on it. On the other hand, there is chopped off bird head flying around and at the bottom you see a mythical animal with a tree as its head. Let’s just say, it is a very interesting mural!
- With a big collection of 58 murals you can easily explore Zaspa on the go, but you can also use the map that is available on the website of Muralegdanskzaspa.
- There are also street art tours available in the summer season (three times a week). You can book these tours at the Cultural Information Point at the Dlugi Targ. When I informed about these tours they were only available in Polish, but maybe now they also have English tours.
- A ticket with the SKM train from Gdansk Glowny to Zaspa costs 3 PLN per person. During the week this train leaves every 7 minutes and on the weekends it leaves every 15 minutes. Quite often!
Do you want to visit Zaspa?