A Gentle Land, which has many places waiting to be discovered. We invite You to visit Kociewie!

Kociewie. Ethnical-cultural land of Pomerania spreads from  Gdansk county to Chojnice on the line of Tczew-Starogard Gdanski – Swiecie.

- It was winter, 1807. There were fights between Polish and French troops fighting with the Prussians to get part of this land back. Lieutenant colonel Hurtig was informing gen Jan Henryk Dabrowski about moving the soldiers “towards Gociewie”. This fragment of a letter sent February 10 from Nowe, near Wistula River was the first time, the name of this area was mentioned – says Piotr Konczewski, a director of the Local Tourists Board KOCIEWIE.

There are 340.000 inhabitants living in Kociewie. They are called “Kociewiacy”, along with Kashubians, one of the most important social group in Pomerania. Let’s focus more on the practice, not theory. In our conversation We shall ask Piotr Konczewski about the things what characterise Kociewie and why it is worth coming here…

Piotr Konczewski: - It is worth coming to Kociewie for the several century tradition which testimony is the folk art, the dialect and local food. For unforgettable landscapes, historical heritage and original folk food. But first and foremost for people in Kociewie always welcome You with serenity.

Vistula bridges in Tczew, fot: pomorskie.travel

Pomerania.travel: - What we have to visit in Kociewie?

P.K.: - Kociewie is the land, which You can visit at any time of the year. It is really worth visiting Tczew to see the bridge from XIX c built by Carl Lentze, famous at that time architect. There is the only in Poland river museum here, Vistula River Museum, where in Wreck Conservatory Centre You can see boats from all over the world. For art fans there is a Art Factory, where You can visit different kinds of art exhibitions.

One more place important on the map of Kociewie is Pelplin, the spiritual capital of the region. There is a massive construction of the Basilica church with a famous painting by Herman Han “The coronation od St. Virgin Mary”. The Cistercians, while building the monastery did not forget about the citizens and the Holy Spirit church was built for them. You can find different styles of the interior there, form gothic to neo - baroque.   In a Diocese Museum there is the only in Poland piece of Gutenberg Bible. It is one of the most precious book in the world. A very special place in Pelplin is a hill near the city. June 6 1999, pope  John Paul II celebrated a mass there. Today a lot of pilgrimages come there.

Cistercian abbey in Pelplin, fot: UM Pelplin

Pomorskie.travel: - Kociewie is also associated with the ancient settlements and medieval constructions…

P.K.: - Fans of medieval tournaments should visit Gniew and the former Teutonic Castle, which was built in XIII/XIV c. It was a seat of a House Commander and later a Polish foremen, including, the most famous one,  - John III Sobieski. Today, there are tournaments and historical show’s organised here. While visiting the city, go and see the Old Town, where the square has remained its medieval shape.

Following the tradition of medieval nights, we have to also mention Johannites, whose castle was in Skarszewy and today You can see its remaining. Have a look also at the market square and medieval city walls.

Owidz Settlement is situated  close to the capital of Kociewie and also offers meetings with the history. There is reconstructed  settlement from IX c. where old Slavic tribes used to live. There is a Mythological Slavic Museum there too, where in a modern way You can learn more about people who lived here in the past.

Owicz settlement, fot: pomorskie.travel

Pomorskie.travel: - What about the capital of Kociewie?

P.K.: - Of course, it is worth going to Starogard Gdanski, the capital of the region. This settlement was built on the former ancient Amber Route and St. Mathew church still remembers those times. The church was built in XIV c. and impresses us with the number of sacral artefacts. Walking around the city pay your attention to the touristic trail, called “The crown and the cross”. Following it You will see the most important places in the city – for example the square market in the Old Town and three towers: Gdansk, Triangle and Tczew. There are also two history and cultural facilities here. Museum of Kociewie Land where You know more about the history and the culture of the region and the Musuem of Rokitna Chevau-leger, where You can have a living history lesson.

Pomoreskie.travel: - Kociewie is also a place for the active tourists.

P.K.: - There are over 800 km of cycling paths in the region, called Cycling Trail of Kociewie. They lead through the most interesting and most beautiful areas of Kociewie. The fans of water sports can go canoeing down the two rivers. Wda – a calm river where You can admire the nature of Wda Landscape Park or Zurski Lagoon. Those, who need adrenaline choose Wieżyca River, which is very curly and can offer us some surprises.

Canoeing down the Wieżyca river, fot: LOT Serce Kaszub

Pomorskie.travel: - Kociewie has extremely rich culture. There are famous embroidered table cloths and napkins here with flower, wheat and poppyseed patterns. There is also a typical kind of tree shaped laces on vest typical for the women folk clothes tradition.

P.K.: - Yes, indeed. What’s more – along with the embroidery and the traditional clothes people in Kociewie has got their characteristic dialect, which is registered as a part of the greater Poland dialect. The culture of Kociewie that is also its kitchen and food, which is very varied  because the food was different at the lakes and rivers and different in the low lands and forests. There were mainly vegetables, fruits, forest fruits and fish. Meat was served usually during festivals.

Pomorskie.travel: - People from Kociewie, Low Lands, citizens from the Tricity. Shared life is in peace and symbiosis…

P.K.: - Of course, it is… We are aware of the fact that people come to Pomerania to visit mainly the Tricity with Gdansk and the sea side. Kociewie has got many advantages from that as well. More and more tourists, during summer time, organise loser and further trips away from the beach … to Kociewie.

Castle in Gniew, fot: Castle in Gniew

I can admit, we are less popular that Kashuby region but popularity is not the same as the attractiveness and the touristic potential. The last one is on our side. I am sure we have far more to offer when the cultural tourism is concerned: artefacts, such as Pelplin or Gniew, the Owidz settlement, an arboretum in Wirty, the complex of the Art Factory in Tczew, Vistula River Museum and the Centre of Wreck Conservation. We have to also remember about the Nowe near Vistula , Swiecie or Tlen. All that, plus the attractions of the active tourism: cycling or canoeing and the offers of the holiday resorts and guesthouses with good food can become an alternative for the nearby Kashuby and even the sea side resorts.

Johannes Gutenberg and the Pelplin Bible

Johannes Gutenberg and the Pelplin Bible

What links Johannes Gutenberg, known as the father of printing, with Pelplin? Of 180 published and 48 preserved full two-volume copies of the famous Gutenberg’s Bible, one is located in the library of the Seminary in Pelplin.

Gutenberg Bible is the first book printed on the Old Continent. Up to the present times only 48 pieces survived, scattered around the world. One of them You can find in a Diocese Museum in Pelplin.

Gutenberg Bible, also called the 42 lines Bible or Mazarina Bible is the most famous book in the history of the mankind. First printed thing on the Old Continent, made using the invention of a constructor form Mainz. Till today only 48 pieces, scattered around the world survived. One of them can be found among the treasures of the Diocese Museum in Pelplin.

Between 1452 and 1455 John Guttenberg published the first Bible, a book printed by using a moving letter. The secrets of Gutenberg’s method quickly went outside his workshop due to the fact that the Mainz inventor changed his workers quite often because he was not able to pay them regular salaries. Thanks to his economic problems his invention spread out. Despite the fact that for centuries a book was a luxurious thing a massive printing made a reading habit more democratic. The access to the written word became more popular and the societies slowly were coming out from the dark illiteracy times. And this is how the new era started. How come that the original of this revolutionary book reached Pelplin?

Let’s star form the beginning…

This over 500 years old, complete example of the Bible, which was published thanks to the new method of German constructor, John Gutenberg, printing machine, using a moving letter. The Latin text (translation of St. Jerome) printed in a narrow two line pattern, 42 lines – that’s why the name. The third popular Bible name – Biblia Mozariana – comes from the name of a cardinal and the first investigated piece of the bible coming from his library.

The book was printed in around 200 specimen – 165 on the paper and 35 on  the parchment. The museum, situated near the Cistercian Abbey in Pelplin has two-volume – the only in Poland version on the paper which the original XV c. cover, made by the master Henryk Coster from Lübeck. The whole masterpiece in two -volume consist of 641 papers printed on both sides in two columns . The Bible does not only have the all text of the Holy Bible by the St. Jerome also his commentaries and prologues.

The Bible in Pelplin is one of the most precious among all the rest due to the character and the way of making the lines, so writing using the red colour at the beginnings and the endings of prologues and the books, so all “incipit” and “explicite”, which was not done in during its printings due to a very high costs of putting one more piece of paper on the press.

The winds of the history

The history how the Bible reached Poland in unknown. Most probably it was bought by a bishop Mikołaj Chrapicki for the Franciscan Order in Lubawa in XV c. In 1833 it reached the seminary library in Pelplin.

Very interesting is the WWII history of the Bible. The III Reich was so determined to collect the biggest number of  precious artefacts from the occupied countries, so they organised a separate unit in order to search for them. In order to save the Bible, Anotni Liedtke, the director of the seminary library, packed it in a specially ordered in a Gutkowski workshop, a leather bag and took it to Warsaw, from where it went to Romania and Paris.

The documents proving the bibles transports stayed in Pelplin. Thankfully, the Bible did not get into the Nazi hands. It travelled a lot. It was on the transatlantic “Batory”, to find a shelter in Canada. Later it was kept in the Bank of Montreal. It came back to Poland in 1959, at first to Wawel and finally, in the same, leather bag returned with the same priest, Antoni Liedtke -  to Pelplin.


A special specimen

There is one, tine, but very important thing that makes the Gutenberg Bible in Pelplin so unique. On the margins of, on the page number 46of the first volume there is a small stain. It is a reflection of a letter, which fell out during the printing process. That mark enabled to reconstruct the Gutenberg letter workshop.

Till today only 48 pieces of the most precious book in the world survived. Out of them only 20 are complete. 14 in USA.

The Bible from Pelplin was most probably bought by the bishop Mikołaj Chrapicki and presented to the Franciscan in Lubawa. After the secularisation of the order ot came to the seminary library in Pelplin (1833). During the interwar period there were plans to sell the Bible in order to get money for the church renovation and enlarging the seminary complex. The press comments and peoples’ protests let the book stay in Pelplin. Before WWII the Bible from Pelplin through the Warsaw went to Paris, From there in 1940 it wat taken to London and then to Canada. It came back to Pelplin in 1959. We can admire it in Diocese Museum.


John Gutenberg, or in fact Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg was born around 1398 in Mainz (Germany). From his childhood, we only know he came from a very rich family, called Gensfleisch. Johann used his mother’s maiden name. He was a goldsmith.

Before Gutenberg’s printing revolutions books were written by hand or copied by using the woodcuts. Those were very time-consuming and hard methods, so there were not many books at that time. Some of those were incredibly expensive. So, only the richest, cloisters or universities could afford to buy them.

In order to change that, Gutenberg invented metal pieces of every letter. Combined with the special press it was possible to print whole text on one page. Despite the fact that the first printing machine was made almost 500 years earlier in China, in Europe that was Gutenberg who promoted this way of printing.

After many years of preparation he published 42 line Bible in Latin. Printing 300 copies, 1200 page each, was very time-consuming and expensive project, which was held between 1452-1455. In 1460 the inventor was in dept in Johann’s Frust, who made him leave the printing office. Gutenberg left the printing business and died 8 years alter in big poverty. The Gutenberg  invention was very practical so it was promoted very quickly. At the end of XV c. there were already 250 printing houses all over Europe.


Source The Diocesan Museum in Pelplin
Fot. T. Konopacki, R. Baranowski