Gdansk is the largest city in Northern Poland and, combined with the nearby urban centres of Sopot and Gdynia, forms what is known as the Tri-City along the Gulf of Gdansk on the Baltic Sea. Gdansk was the Hanseatic trading hub of the Teutonic knights in medieval times, helping it to evolve into the greatest port on the Baltic.
Though the city owed its loyalty to the Polish monarchy, the city was demographically mostly German, architecturally reminiscent of Flanders, and effectively an independent city-state. Wealthy, cultured and cosmopolitan, it was a city that forged its own history. Napoleon was heard to say that Gdansk was the key to everything, and Hitler most probably shared his opinion when he started World War II here. Gdansk was devastated by the war, but the post war reconstruction was extensive and today the city appears to be city full of original 16th century architecture.