Sopot: Southend’s Polish Twin Town Ria May 27, 2014 Adventure Island, Landmarks & Attractions, Seaside, Southend, Southend Pier, Theatres 1 Comment What is a twin town? The idea behind town twinning came about after the second world war, to establish friendships between different cultures and mend relationships broken by the war, as well as encouraging trade and tourism between towns. Southend-on-Sea has been twinned with the vibrant and colourful town of Sopot since October 1999. Why is Sopot Southend’s sister city? Like Southend-on-Sea, Sopot is also a seaside town. Located on the coast of the Baltic Sea in northern Poland, they too have a pleasure pier that frequently hosts events and entertainment. Like us, their pier is also the pride of their town, claiming the longest wooden pier in Europe at 515 metres. Though but a quarter of the size of Southend’s pier, ours is constructed primarily of iron. The small seaside town of Sopot has a population of 41,000 residents. Though a smaller figure to Southend’s 174,800 Sopot boast a huge range in attractions that couple well with Southend’s own attractions. Much like how Southend-on-Sea built a name for itself as the local tourist destination for Londoners, Sopot built its reputation as the tourist getaway town for day trippers from Gdansk. Southend VS Sopot – The Similarities Fountains Sopot has a fountain of bromide spring water, known as the Inhalation Mushroom, which contributes to its fame as a health spa resort. Southend‘s seafront fountains serve as a colourful light show in the evening and a fun attraction for small children in the Summer, with its varying heights and glowing colours. Art Galleries Sopot has a string of art galleries, including the National Art Gallery and the Gallery Triada which exhibits modern art. Southend has the Focal Point Gallery and the Beecroft Art Gallery, as well as bits and pieces at the Southend Museums. Theatres Sopot has Atelier Theatre, located on the beach, is a popular spot for Summer festivals. There is also the Forest Opera, an open space roofed ampitheatre spanning over four hectares of the picturesque forest, which can seat 4400 people and 110 musicians on stage. Southend has two major theatre venues currently in operation: Cliffs Pavilion and Palace Theatre. Both theatres attract many internationally recognised (musical, comical and theatrical) acts throughout the year. Casinos Sopot have a casino at their Grand Hotel, the most famous hotel in Sopot, a 6500 square foot casino floor with an adjoining casino spa and hydrotherapy pool. Southend has the Rendezvous Casino and the Genting Club along the seafront, with talks of even more to join them in the future. And of course all of those arcades… Seaside Sopot has a sandy beach stretching 4.3km in length along the entire sea coast, with attractions along the seafront including, of course, their famous pier. The Sopot Sailing Club has one of the most modern and and largest windsurfing centres in the country. Southend is known for its traditional British seaside, and the pier and amusement park along it. There are many festivals that take place at the local beaches each year. Theme Park Sopot has an indoor/outdoor Aqua Park with many swimming pools; water grottos; wild river; water spa; tube slides; as well as a bar, pub and restaurant. Southend is famed for Adventure Island! Containing over 60 different rides and attractions, there are also plenty of food stalls and side shows to keep you entertained throughout the day. And there’s the sea life centre on the seafront too! Crooked House! Sopot has “Krzywy Domek” which is Polish for “Crooked Little House”, a strangely shaped building in Sopot, inspired by fairytale illustrations. Part of the shopping centre, it has shops and entertainment inside. Southend has a Crooked House at Adventure Island, originally built in 1953 (specifically for the purpose of terrifying small children with the creepy use of its animatronics – I’m joking) it is the oldest attraction at the park. Known for its dizzying effects with its slanted floors and narrow staircases, it’s certainly not a recommended attraction for those who suffer from claustrophobia! You have been warned…. Could we have been twinned with an even more appropriate town? I think not, but I would love to hear your opinions!