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.

Kociewie cuisine

Kociewie cuisine

The eating habits of the people were influenced by all kinds of geographical and climatic conditions, and the people themselves – primarily their origin. Kociewie has never been completely cut off from its neighbours, so mutual influences appeared. Cuisine was no exception.
Kociewie's food is a product of various tastes, and the cuisine itself is not uniform. The menu in the forests differed from that near the rivers and lakes, with still-different customs in the lowlands. For many years the Polish countryside was self-sufficient, and own livestock, feed and forests served as sources of food. The menu of villagers was not very diversified. It was dominated by plant products, primarily vegetables, fruit, and bread (home-baked), undergrowth, and dairy produce. In seaside regions and villages located by the banks of stocked lakes fish were an important element of the diet. As for meat, the most popular was pork, but mutton and beef were also eaten. It was definitely due to the fact that pork is the easiest to process. Ham, similar to other cured meat, was made in Pomerania at the slaughter of pigs, which was performed mainly for important church holidays (Easter and Christmas) and significant family events (baptisms and weddings). The pig was shared out according to the kind of meat. People tried to put every bit to use, making ham, sausage, blood sausage, liverwurst, brawn. Bones were left for soups. Meat was preserved by salting and smoking. Pork was used in Kociewie to make kisza mięsna (blood sausage) that may be compared to a combination of raw-meat sausage and Polish sausage. A staple supplement to meals was pork fat - raw or smoked, which had to suffice for the entire period between the slaughters. Pork fat was also clarified to make lard. Pork was most often used for pork chops (karbonada), both fried and stewed. It always tasted best with stewed (szmurowana) cabbage. Kociewie people also kept poultry, which gave them a daily ration of eggs. Pâté was also made from poultry, and goose gravy prepared for St. Martin's day enjoyed particular popularity.
The essential role in food, besides cereals, was played by vegetables, primarily potatoes, beans, cabbage, carrots, and turnips. Cabbage, prepared in a variety of ways, was undoubtedly one of the most popular vegetables in Kociewie's cuisine. It was made into salads and soups and pickled for winter in large wooden barrels. Two cabbage soups were very popular in Pomerania - parzybroda, made of fresh cabbage, and kapuśniak or szarpak - of pickled cabbage. Szarpak was a very popular soup, easy and quick to prepare.
The basis of each meal in Kociewie was bread, usually wholewheat or rżany, known as śrutowy (rye bread). 3 meals a day was the standard. Hasty pudding was the staple food for breakfast (a milk soup with rye dumplings), chicory coffee and szurane potatoes (purée). Dinner consisted of soup, usually kartoflanka or zalewajka (potato soups), the latter with added sour milk and small dumplings, and the main course was potatoes or dumplings with cabbage, or groats with beans. Meat appeared on Sundays and holidays. Supper again featured milk-based hasty pudding and potatoes with roux. It was a common practice to prepare supper with fried potatoes that were left after dinner.
The sweet delicacies of Kociewie people were all kinds of yeast cakes. They baked kołaczek (round cake), szneka z glancem (iced sweat rolls), kuchy (cakes), kuszki (cookies), purcle (buttery rolls), pómle (doughnuts), and ruchanki (fritters). Cakes were decorated with sweet crumble toppings, with added fruit - apples, pears, plums, berries. The true test of culinary skills in terms of baking cakes was Easter. Women made yeast baba cakes, and in well-to-do houses mazurkas (dried fruit cake).
Recently the people of Kociewie have been very eager to have their dishes included in the list of traditional products. It already features about 30 various meals from that land.