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