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Sopot (German: Zoppot ; Kashubian: Sopòt) is a seaside town in Eastern Pomerania on the southern coast of the Baltic Seamarker in northern Polandmarker, with a population of approximately 40,000.

Sopot is a city with powiat (county) status, in Pomeranian Voivodeshipmarker. Until 1999 it was in Gdańsk Voivodeship. It lies between the larger cities of Gdańskmarker (to the south-east) and Gdyniamarker (to the north), the three towns together making up the metropolitan agglomeration called Trójmiasto (Tri-Citymarker).

Sopot is a major health-spa and tourist resort destination. It has the longest wooden pier in Europe, at 515.5 meters, stretching out into the Bay of Gdańskmarker. The city is also famous for its Sopot International Song Festival, the largest such event in Europe after the Eurovision Song Contest. Among its other attractions is a fountain of bromide spring water, known as the "inhalation mushroom".


The name Sopot stems from an old Slavic word meaning "stream". The same root occurs in a number of other Slavic toponyms; it is probably onomatopeic, imitating the sound of a running stream. (Today several streams run into the sea in the area of the town.)

The name is first recorded as Sopoth in 1283 and Sopot in 1291. The German Zoppot is a Germanization of the original Slavic name. In the 19th century and in the interwar years the German name was Polonized as Sopoty (a plural form) or Copoty (another plural form, closer to the German pronunciation). "Sopot" was made the official Polish name when the town came under Polish rule in 1945.


Early history

The area of today's Sopot contains the site of a 7th-century Slavonic (Pomeranian) stronghold. Initially it was a commercial trade outpost for commerce extending both up the Vistula river and to cities north across the Baltic Seamarker. With time the significance of the stronghold diminished and by the 10th century it was reduced to a fishing village, eventually abandoned. However, a century later the area was settled again and two villages were founded within the borders of today's' city: Stawowie and Gręzowo. They were first mentioned in 1186 as being granted to the Cistercian abbey in Oliwamarker. Another of the villages that constitute today's Sopot, Świemirowo, was first mentioned in 1212 in a document by Mestwin I, who granted it to the Premonstratensian (Norbertine) monastery in nearby Żukowo.

The village of Sopot, which later became the namesake for the whole city, was first mentioned in 1283 when it was granted to the Cistercians. By 1316 the abbey had bought all villages in the area and became the owners of all the area of the city. After the Second Peace of Thorn the area was reincorporated into the Kingdom of Poland.

The spa for the citizens of Gdańskmarker has been active since the 16th century. Until the end of that century most noble and magnate families from Gdańsk built their manor housees in Sopot. During the negotiations of the Treaty of Oliva King John II Casimir lived in one of them, while Swedish negotiator Magnus de la Gardie resided in another — it has been known as the Swedish Manor ever since.

During the 1733 War of the Polish Succession Imperial Russianmarker troops besieged the nearby city of Gdańsk and a year later looted and burned the village of Sopot to the ground. Much of Sopot would remain abandoned during and after the conflict.
In 1757 and 1758 most of the ruined manors were bought by the Pomeranian magnate family of Przebendowski. General Józef Przebendowski bought nine of these palaces and in 1786 his widow, Bernardyna Przebendowska (née von Kleist), bought the remaining two.

Annexed to the Kingdom of Prussia

Sopot was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussiamarker in 1772 in the First Partition of Poland. Following the new laws imposed by King Frederick the Great, church property was confiscated by the state. The village was reconstructed and in 1806 the area was sold to the Gdansk merchant Carl Christoph Wegner.

In 1819 Wegner opened the first public bath in Sopot and tried to promote the newly-established spa among the inhabitants of Danzigmarker, but the undertaking was a financial failure. However, in 1823 Dr. Jean Georg Haffner, a former medic of the Frenchmarker army, financed a new bath complex that gained significant popularity. In the following years Haffner erected more facilities. By 1824 a sanatorium was opened to the public, as well as a 63-metre pier, cloakrooms, and a park. Haffner died in 1830, but his enterprise was continued by his stepson, Ernst Adolf Böttcher. The latter continued to develop the area and in 1842 opened a new theatre and sanatorium. By then the number of tourists coming to Sopot every year had risen to almost 1,200.

In 1870 Sopot saw the opening of its first rail line: the new Danzig-Kolbergmarker rail road that was later extended to Berlinmarker. Good rail connections added to the popularity of the area and by 1900 the number of tourists had reached almost 12,500 a year.

In 1873 the village of Sopot became an administrative centre of the Gemeinde. Soon other villages were incorporated into it and in 1874 the number of inhabitants of the village rose to over 2,800.
The "Crooked House"
At the beginning of the 20th century it was a favourite spa of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany. The city again became a holiday resort for the inhabitants of nearby Danzig, as well as wealthy aristocrats from Berlin, Warsawmarker, and Königsbergmarker. Soon after World War I a casino was opened in the Grand Hotel as the primary source of money for the treasury of the Free City of Danzigmarker.


In 1877 the self-government of the Gemeinde bought the village from the descendants of Dr. Haffner and started its further development. A second sanatorium was constructed in 1881 and the pier was extended to 85 metres. In 1885 the gas works were built. Two years later tennis courts were built and the following year a horse-racing track was opened to the public. There were also several facilities built for the permanent inhabitants of Sopot, not only for the tourists. Among those were two new churches: Protestant (September 17, 1901) and Catholic (December 21, 1901).

On October 8, 1901, Wilhelm II granted Sopot city rights, spurring further rapid growth. In 1904 a new balneological sanatorium was opened. In 1907 new baths south of the old ones were built in Viking style. In 1909 a new theatre was opened in the nearby forest within the city limits, in the place where today the Sopot Festival is held every year. By 1912 a third complex of baths, sanatoria, hotels, and restaurants was opened, attracting even more tourists. Shortly before World War I the city had 17,400 permanent inhabitants and over 20,000 tourists every year.

The Treaty of Versailles

Following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, Sopot became a part of the Free City of Danzigmarker. Due to the proximity of the Polishmarker and Germanmarker borders, the economy of the town soon recovered. The new casino became one of the main sources of income of the tiny free-city state. In 1927 the city authorities rebuilt the Kasino-Hotel, one of the most notable landmarks in Sopot today. After World War II it was renamed as the Grand Hotel and continues to be one of the most luxurious hotels in Polandmarker.

A Richard Wagner festival was held in the nearby Forest Operamarker in 1922. The festival's success caused Sopot to be sometimes referred to as the "Bayreuthmarker of the North". In 1928 the pier was extended to its present length of 512 metres. Since then it has remained the longest wooden pier in Europe and one of the longest in the world. In the early 1930s the city reached its peak of its popularity among foreign tourists — more than 30,000 annually (this number does not include tourists from Danzig/Gdansk itself). However, by the 1930s, tensions on the nearby Polish-German border and the rising popularity of Nazism in Germanymarker saw a decline in foreign tourism; in 1938 local Germans Nazis burned down Sopot's synagogue.

World War II

World War II broke out on September 1, 1939. The following day the Free City of Danzig was annexed by Nazi Germany and most of the local Poles, Kashubians, and Jews were arrested and imprisoned or expelled. Due to the war, the city's tourist industry collapsed. The last Wagner Festival was held in 1942.

Soviet occupation

St. George's Church

The Soviet Unionmarker's Red Army entered Sopot on [March 23, 1945. Sopot in 1945 lost approximately 10% of its buildings—some during the fighting, but a good number burned to the ground by drunken Soviet conscripts after the fighting had ceased on May 8, 1945. The Red Army soldiers burned and looted most of the buildings close to the pier, including the health-spa sanatoria complex.

As per the Potsdam Conference, Sopot was incorporated into the post-war Polish state. The authorities of Gdańsk Voivodeship were located in Sopot until the end of 1946. Most of the German inhabitants who had remained in the city after the evacuation before the advancing Red Army were soon to be expelled, and soon eastern settlers from Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union would arrive.

Sopot recovered rapidly after the war. A tramway line to Gdańsk was opened, as well as the Higher School of Music, the Higher School of Maritime Trade, a library, and an art gallery. During the city presidency of Jan Kapusta) the town opened an annual Arts Festival in 1948. In 1952 the tramways were replaced by a heavy-rail commuter line connecting Gdańsk, Sopot and Gdyniamarker. Although in 1954 the Higher School of Arts was moved to Gdańsk, Sopot remained an important centre of culture, and in 1956 the first Polish jazz festival was held there (until then jazz had been banned by the Communist authorities). This was the forerunner of the continuing yearly Jazz Jamboree in Warsaw. In 1961 the Sopot International Song Festival was inaugurated, although it was held in Gdańsk in its first three years – it moved to its permanent venue at Sopot's Forest Operamarker in 1964. In 1963 the main street of Sopot (Bohaterów Monte Cassino, "street of the heroes of Monte Cassinomarker") was turned into a pedestrian-only promenade.

New complexes of baths, sanatoria, and hotels were opened in 1972 and 1975. By 1977 Sopot had approximately 54,500 inhabitants, the highest ever in its history. In 1979 the historical town centre was declared a national heritage centre by the government of Poland.

Fall of the Communist regime

The martial law declared by Wojciech Jaruzelski in 1981 and the following period of economic decline ended with the fall of the communist regime in 1989. In 1995 the southern bath and sanatoria complex were extended significantly and the Saint Adalbert spring opened two years later, as a result in 1999 Sopot regained its official spa town status.

In 2001 Sopot celebrated the 100th anniversary of its city charter.

The present day

Sopot is currently undergoing a period of intense development, including the building of a number of five star hotels and spa resorts on the waterfront. The main pedestrianized street, Monte Cassino, has also been extended by diverting traffic underneath it, meaning the whole street is now pedestrianized. Sopot, aside from Warsaw has the highest property prices in Poland.
City centre

Fountain on the main square (before the city centre redevelopment)

Typical Sopot beach tourist hotel, usually open during the summer.

Sopot beach memorial to Sopot fishermen lost at sea.

Famous people

The following is a list of notable personalities born or living in the city.

Guests and visitors of the spa resorts and the Grand Hotel have included:



Major corporations

Higher education


Interestingly, Sopot does not have its own municipal mass transit. The city is covered by both the Gdyniamarker and Gdańskmarker municipal bus lines, the commuter rail line (with three stops: Sopot Wyścigimarker, Sopotmarker, and Sopot Kamienny Potokmarker), and the Polish national railway, PKP.


:See also: Sports in Tricity
There are many popular professional sports teams in Sopot and the tri-city area. The most popular in Sopot today is probably basketball thanks to the award-winning Prokom Trefl Sopot. Amateur sports are played by thousands of Sopot citizens, as well as in schools of all levels (elementary, secondary, and university).

  • Prokom Trefl Sopot - men's basketball team, Polish Champion 2004= 1st place in Era Basket Liga, will play in basketball Euroleague
  • Idea Prokom Open - ATP and WTA tennis tournament held in August. Rafael Nadal and Flavia Pennetta won in 2004.
  • Ogniwo Sopot - [MKS Ogniwo Sopot] is a rugby club, founded in 1965. Since the 80's, Ogniwo is one of the best Polish rugby teams. They were undefeated since 1989 to 1993, with Edward Hodura as a coach.
  • Klub Piłkarski Sopot (KP Sopot)– Football (Soccer) Club founded in 1987. In 2007/08 season it won the Regional Polish Cup.[23556]
  • PDP Karlikowo Sopot - Men's football club

Twin cities

See also



External links

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