Sopot (Kashubian: Sopòt, Sopòtë, Copòtë, Copòt), a small seaside city and spa resort, is a tourist destination, which together with the neighbouring Gdansk and Gdynia, forms the Tri-City conurbation with a population of over one million. Along the coast, the town is flanked by wooded hills, while the Bay of Gdansk is sheltered from the open sea by the Hel Peninsula, thanks to which the sea off the beaches of Sopot are warmer than at other locations on the Baltic coast. The town’s unique character stems from the Art Nouveau townhouses and villas, surrounded by trees, historic parks and beautifully cultivated gardens, with greenery covering 60% of the town area.
The longest wooden pier in Europe (511.5 m), stretching into the sea from the middle of Sopot beach is a popular venue for recreational and health walks (the concentration of iodine in the air at the sea end is twice as high as on land) or public entertainment events, and it also serves as a mooring point for cruise boats and water taxis.
Bohaterów Monte Cassino Street , which is the street leading down to the pier, is the most famous pedestrian precinct in the country, is lined with numerous pubs and galleries. During the summer it becomes a venue for itinerant street theatres, musicians and artists who exhibit their work. There are also cinemas on this lively street.
A bit of history …
The first mention of Sopot is from 1283, when the small fishing village of the same name was given to Oliwa Cistercians by Pomeranian Duke Mściwój II. They managed these areas for nearly 500 years. Since the mid-sixteenth century wealthy patricians of Gdańsk and diplomats of foreign states began to build their summer residences in Sopot. At the same time were the first attempts to organize special places for swimming. After the partition of Poland in 1772, Sopot passed into the hands of Prussia.
After Napoleon’s defeat in Russia and in the back of the French army from Moscow, in Gdansk settled French military surgeon Major John George Haffner, who bought a piece of land here and in 1823. He built the baths (bathrooms). A year later, as his case was made here for the first Kurhaus. Then, thanks to his activity was founded surrounding park (still exists today), marked walking paths and built the first pier. Sopot spa guests began to arrive and the town has been recognized as bathing. After starting in 1870 Koszalin railway connection with Gdansk and Warsaw, on the route which was Sopot, there has been a rapid development of the village. In 1901 Sopot received city rights. Resort slowly became very fashionable in Europe – it was called the Riviera of the North. In 1909 started its activity Forest Opera.
The Treaty of Versailles turned Sopot areas in the Free City of Danzig. In 1920 was founded in the casino, in 1927 was opened Grand Hotel. Wooden pier was extended to its present length of 511.5 m.
After World War II in 1945 Sopot was incorporated into Poland, and even in the remaining German population was displaced. Their place was taken by Poles from the eastern borderlands. In 1961 town gained notoriety again when organized here International Song Festival.
In 2001 Sopot celebrated the 100th anniversary of civic rights.