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.

Pelplin

Pelplin

     On visiting Pelplin you may embark on a journey following the Gray Monks, admire the traces of old culture, and spend a day in one of the best-preserved Cistercian abbeys.
The heart of the Pelplin monastery is the second-largest brick church in Poland, with 23 altars in its interior, including the highest wooden Baroque altar in Europe, Gothic and Baroque stalls, organs, and a pulpit, as well as other, valuable, furnishings. Here silence will make us feel the spirit of prayer and work that has for six centuries accompanied the everyday life of friars, following their maxim "Ora et Labora" (Prayer and Work). We will follow the Gray Monks to the former oratory, the cloisters, the garth (inner garden), the refectory (dining room), and other monastery and farming rooms - today forming a tourist infrastructure for the growing numbers of tourists and pilgrims.


The Diocesan Museum houses the largest collection of Gothic sculptures in Pomerania, as well as a collection of fabrics and religious goldsmithery, but the pearl of the collection is the only copy of Gutenberg's Bible in Poland.


In the old abbey you will discover the realities of monastic life, the Cistercian architecture, the music and dance of old, and the ideal of a monk and a mediaeval knight. You can also feel like a mediaeval scribe and learn how writing developed from a monastic handwriting workshop to modern typesetting in the local "Bernardinum" Diocesan Publishing House. We will delve into the past to see for ourselves how the Pelplin scriptorium operated. Within the abbey's walls, resting in front of a well-worn desk, you will explore the arcana of writing in blackletter, uncial, antiqua and decorating books with ornaments and Gothic initials.


The historic rooms of the old Cistercian watermill house the Nad Wierzycą Hotel. Its interiors have genuine features of Cistercian wooden architecture. The entire decor relates to the simplicity of the Gray Monks. Only the hum of water falling on the wheel can interrupt the contemplative silence of the place.

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Cistercian friars had common meals in the refectory. This 14th-Century room still fills with the mouth-watering scents coming from the adjoining kitchen. The place is still bustling with life, and, most importantly, you can have a nourishing meal there. Cistercians built their monasteries close to water, and the Pelplin abbey was no different. The monastery complex is gently passed by the Wierzyca - the most enchanting river of Kociewie. Why not reach Pelplin by water, as did King Jan III Sobieski? The water route is not easy, yet persistence will be rewarded by beautiful landscapes and curiosities of nature that can only be seen from a canoe.


Warmth and the smell of a fireplace... the hum of water near the monastery buildings... the Jan III Sobieski island is a charming place located right next to the abbey's walls, where you can spend a pleasant evening with friends. It is also a friendly place for canoeists who feel like bivouacking. All those who yearn for tales of local history and legends will find special artistic programmes to enrich the merriment of the night.


Every year on the third weekend of September you are invited to the Cistercian Fair. In the former monastery you will learn about the history and culture of the Cistercians of Pelplin in the historical stagings and performances of local legends. We can also have a good time banqueting in the Cistercian refectory, sitting at tables laden with the Old Polish victuals and beverages, and looking for the good spirit of the abbey with the Cathedral angels.


Friars and knights cased in steel, ladies-in-waiting wearing period dresses and dancing around to old music, a volley of cannon fire... The Jacenty Ordowski Mercenary Knights' Company "Apis" will prepare the artistic setting to add splendour and attraction to a meeting, celebration, conference, banquet, or an evening campfire in the area of the old Cistercian Monastery.


Tourists and pilgrims eagerly visit the nearby Góra Papieska (the Pope's Hill), where on 6 June 1999 Pope John Paul II celebrated a mass for believers from the Pelplin Diocese. It can be reached by taking a beautiful hiking and cycling route, which features boards presenting Pelplin's history.


Visitors coming to Pelplin should first head to the old gate building which houses the Diocesan Tourist Information Centre. A Cistercian friar once used to welcome visitors to the monastery in this place - today tourists and pilgrims are greeted with the same joy. You will receive professional assistance at all local attractions, as well as guides, maps, and other information and promotional material.