The Gdańsk Lighthouse
and Time Ball 1894

The Gdańsk Lighthouse and Time Ball 1894

One of the most beautiful lighthouses of Northern Europe (geographical position 54°24'28''N, 18°39'50''E), this 90-feet-tall structure was built in 1893 and put in service in 1984 and, according to a legend, it was a twin of the most beautiful lighthouse of America - the lost Main Lighthouse of Cleveland, Ohio. It was also the first lighthouse on the Baltic Sea to use electricity.

Situated at the entrance of the harbor of Gdańsk, the Nowy Port lighthouse combined three distinct functions: that of a coastal lighthouse, a harbor pilots tower, and a time ball station. Like in Greenwich, England, the time ball, which measured 5 feet in diameter and weighed 150 pounds, dropped every day at noon to give a precise time signal to the captains of the ships lying at anchor in the Bay of Gdańsk, to allow them to adjust their chronometers, which in turn allowed them later to establish their ship's position (more precisely the longitude) on the open sea.

The Gdańsk Nowy Port Lighthouse entered world history on September 1, 1939, when from its embrasures at 4:45 a.m. of that day the German army opened fire on the Polish military outpost of Westerplatte on the oposite side of the river, thus starting World War II, a war which claimed 55 million lives. Three minutes later, at 4:48 a.m. the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein began shelling Westerplatte in its turn.

In 1984, when a new, modern lighthouse was built in the Northern Port of Gdańsk, the lighthouse of Gdansk Nowy Port was decommissioned, abandoned and forgotten. It was only in 2001 that a Canadian with roots in Gdańsk acquired it from the Polish government and after extensive renovation and conservation work opened it to the public in 2004 as a museum. Inside the historic monument one can admire old optical and electrical instruments from the era long gone by, as well as a superb exhibition of the most beautiful lighthouses of the world.

In addition, in 2008 the lighthouse's time ball was restored, and now drops every day at 12 o'clock noon and then at 2, 4 and 6 pm, with the accuracy of 1 second cumulative error in 200 000 years!

The Gdańsk Nowy Port Lighthouse, the Grand Old Dame of Gdańsk, is often described as the most beautiful, most interesting, and the best kept lighthouse of the Polish coast. This historic monument also offers its visitors a chance to admire its unique architecture and an unsurpassed view of the Gdańsk Harbor, Westerplatte, and the whole Bay of Gdańsk, including the Hel Peninsula.

A visit not to be missed !