Zaspa: The Gdansk Street Art Housing Estate

On the map, Zaspa looks like any ordinary housing estate with uniform blocks laid out neatly, but when I visited this spot in person, I was absolutely blown away by the many giant murals and street art that turned this otherwise ordinary residential suburb in Gdansk into an impressive outdoor gallery of Polish street art. Here’s a closer look at my Zaspa Street Art experience.

In Singapore, over 80% of the population live in high-rise apartment blocks known as Housing Development Board (HDB), so seeing these blocks of flats in Zaspa in the middle of my career break almost felt like I was home.

In recent years, many of Singapore’s blocks of flats have been spiced up with more interesting designs, from Mondrian-inspired colour schemes to the TV test-screen graphic shown on local networks, and murals cover many of the pillars in the void decks, but nowhere is there an estate that looks like Zaspa.


Where is Zaspa?

Zaspa is a district in Gdansk in the northern part of Poland. It’s located a short distance outside of Gdansk City and was built on the remains of the former Gdansk Airport.

How to get there

I took an SKM Tricity train from Gdansk Main Station (Gdańsk Główny) to Gdansk Zaspa Station. It cost me 6 złoty (about S$2.10) and took about 10 minutes.

Poland Zaspa Train Station
Gdansk Zaspa Train Station – the works are in the estate on the Eastern side of the tracks

Use this Google Map by Murale Gdansk Zaspa to navigate the works.


Street Art in Zaspa

In the 80’s and 90’s, Zaspa was not a great place to live and was both desolate and dangerous. In a bid to revive the area, local artists were brought in to liven up the area with their works.

Monument Painting Collection

The first 10 paintings were created back in 1997 to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of Gdansk, and revived in 2009 as the Monumental Art Festival with a bevvy of international artists.

The festival continued until 2016, and today the art is known as the Monumental Painting Collection, an integrated open-air gallery with over 60 large format murals painted on the sides of the many high-rise concrete residential blocks.

I spent about 5 hours or so walking around, here are some of my favourite works.

Poland Zaspa Street Art Praca Zbiorowa Kod Witacego
Baltyk (left, Pilotow 10A) is a group piece by 7 artists in the Gdansk School of Mural and shows a diver in the depths of the greenish Baltic ocean. The wall of dots (right, Pilotow 8H) is a quote from Polish writer Witkacy in binary by PGR Art. The quote: “Art is a world apart, the ultimate reflection of the unity of existence”
Poland Zaspa Street Art M-City Joanna Skiba
M-city‘s work (left, Pilotow 12) marks the 70th anniversary of WWII. Joanna Skiba (right, Pilotow 10) was actually a last-minute replacement for another artist who couldn’t turn up and her first large scale mural.
Poland Zaspa Street Art Piotr Szwabe Lech Walesa
This pixelated face by Piotr Szwabe (Pilotow 17F) is of Lech Walesa, a Gdansk Opposition party leader who lived close by in 17D and marks the 25th anniversary of his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.
Poland Zaspa Street Art Emil Gos
Fish in a can? This work by Wroclaw native Emil Gos (Dywizjonu 303) show some of Poland’s most popular fish from the Baltic – Herring, Cod, Flounder and Goby
Poland Zaspa Street Art Justyna Posiecz-Polkowska
Both these works date back to 2010 – Jacek Wielebski‘s (left, Dywizjonu 303 5F) marks the formation of a Polish trade union while Justyna Posiecz-Polkowska‘s (right, Dywizjonu 303 3A) shows the members of a Polish squadron in the Royal Air Force (RAF)
Poland Zaspa Street Art Krakowisch
Look up high to see this work by Darius Milczarek (Pilotow 20D)
Poland Zaspa Street Art Pawel Paulus Mazur
Balancing life and money with Pawel Paulus Mazur (Skarżyńskiego 8F)
Poland Zaspa Street Art Wojciech Wozniak
You have to walk around the building to really take in this work by Wojciech Wozniak (Pilotow 5)
Poland Zaspa Street Art Zosen Bandido
These fantastical animals represent those found in the mind of Zosen Bandido (PIlotow 18E)
Poland Zaspa Street Art Selfie
WHEW it was a long day of walking!

Read more about all the individual works at Murale Gdansk Zaspa – toggle the EN language button on the bottom/side if you get Polish text.

Zaspa Street Art Tours

You are free to wander around on your own to explore as I did with the help of this Zaspa street art map, but if you want to learn more about the history of the place and stories about the artworks, you can take a free guided tour by a local organised by the Institute of Culture in Gdansk.

Read more about Zaspa Street Art Tours here – tours take place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in summer, or drop them an email for more information. Tours are guided by locals and are free!


Where to find Street Art in Poland

I ended up spending 3 weeks in Poland, a lot longer than I expected and one of the reasons was because I was so mesmerized and distracted by all the amazing street art throughout the country. Here are some highlights:

Krakow

I did a street art walking tour in Krakow, but to be honest, my guide that day didn’t seem personally interested in street art even though there were some pretty cool works, so I definitely enjoyed walking around on my own more. Krakow was also where I lost my voice completely.

Poland Krakow Street Art M-City
M-City is a Polish street artist and his distinctive urban style is clear in this 2012 wall

Wrocław

Wrocław (say ‘Vrot-swav) was the European Capital of Culture in that 2016 when I visite. It is a beautiful colourful city and besides cool street art, look out for their fun little gnome statues doing strange activities all around the city!

Poland Wroclaw Street Art Blu Liberty
Italian street artist Blu has many works around Poland – this one is called Liberty and dates back to 2008!

Łódź

Not ‘Lodz’ but pronounced ‘wooj’, this industrial city is the 3rd largest in Poland and a surprisingly charming place. Great for those trying to avoid the crowds, and also home to a lot of beautiful walls.

Poland Lodz Street Art Etam Crew Balloon
Etam Cru is really 2 Polish street artists known as Betz and Sainer whose works I first saw in Lagos, Portugal. This piece known as Baloon dates back to 2011

Warsaw

The Polish Capital Warsaw was my last stop in my Poland sojourn, but definitely not lacking in great street art.

Poland Warsaw Street Art 1010 Dziura
I love the 3D effect of this work by German artist 1010. This wall called Dziura was created for the Street Art Doping Festival in 2015.

Have you seen the street art in Poland? Which is your favourite city with the best works? Tell me so I know where to go in future.

Looking for more street art? Check out my many street art guides for cities in the Asia Pacific and Europe, and even my home country Singapore.

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2 thoughts on “Zaspa: The Gdansk Street Art Housing Estate”

  1. Wow, some of these murals are so elaborate! I love stunning street art, though I was in Gdansk decades ago as a child so couldn’t check it out. I saw some beautiful work in Krakow though.
    I love that you walked around alone for five hours, although I think I might prefer an organized tour just to find out more about the history.
    Thank you so much for this. I really would like to go back to Gdansk which I remember as a stunning city, and now I know that there is something else there that I’m really interested in.

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