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.

An idea for the trip: Tczew

Tczewski most kratownicowy, fot. Pomorskie.TravelTczew truss bridge, photo: Pomorskie.Travel

What does Tczew has to do with Paris? How are shipwrecks extracted from the depths of the sea? Can art be created in a factory? You will find answers to all these questions in the heart of Kociewie region, in one of its oldest cities, which dates back to the 12th century - in Tczew.

It is really not far from Tri-city to Tczew - by train it will take us about 45 minutes from Gdynia, 35 minutes from Sopot and 20 minutes from Gdansk - and the journey will be made even more pleasant by the landscapes we pass. When we get there, we can start our trip from the Fine Arts Factory or from the branches of the National Maritime Museum in Gdansk, the Vistula Museum and the Shipwreck and Ship Conservation Centre. It is here, in post-industrial buildings, that you can feel the unique atmosphere of the city, and above all learn a lot about its history.

Fabryka Sztuk w Tczewie, fot. Fabryka Sztuk
The Fine Art Factory in Tczew- the cultural heart of the city, photo: press materials

The seat of the Fine Arts Factory is located in historic post-factory buildings from the second half of the 19th century. Built in 1883, they were originally the seat of the Emil Kelch Metal Products Factory. In 1921, the authorities of independent Poland established The Metal Articles Factory there, called "Arkona". In the first years of World War II, on the premises of the factory there was a transit camp for Polish displaced persons, and from 1942, a factory producing equipment for the German army. Today it is one of the most dynamically operating art centres and at the same time - the cultural heart of the city. Concerts, performances, educational activities and workshops take place here - before your arrival, it is worth checking the website of the Factory and checking if something interesting is happening there.

The Vistula Museum is located in the same building and it is also a place that should not be missed. After all, the Vistula is one of our Polish symbols, the more unique because it has its own museum! Inside, we will learn a lot about the history of Tczew and why the Vistula is such an important element for this city, as well as for the whole of Poland. You can spend two or three hours in both places and then go to the Shipwreck and Ship Conservation Centre.

Centrum Konserwacji Wraków Statków w Tczewie i jego atrakcje, fot. mat. prasowe
Shipwreck Conservation Centre in Tczew, photo: press materials

Here you can see with your own eyes what the work with historic ships and boats looks like (this option is available mainly from Monday to Friday), and also peek at the bottom of the sea to observe them in the place where still unexplored objects rest. The interactive exhibition is largely adapted to the needs of the youngest, so it certainly cannot be missed on the sightseeing route if you are traveling with a child. Among the many treasures that you will find in this museum, the seagoing yacht "Opty", on which Leonid Teliga sailed around the globe in the late 1960s, deserves a special mention.

Not quite far from the place, there is also another interesting monument, the water tower, and in its vicinity, the city park. If you are tired of walking around exhibitions, it is definitely worth taking a seat on a bench and taking a breath of fresh air.

Punkt widokowy, fot. Urząd Miejski w Tczewie
You can see better from above, the viewing point by the boulevard, photo: City Hall in Tczew

Finally, it is worth directing your steps towards the Vistula Boulevard. The entire route will take us about 20 minutes to walk, but on the way it is worth going through the centre of Tczew and General Józef Haller Square. In front of the Square, there is a bench by Roman Landowski, an important figure in the history of Tczew and the whole of Kociewie region, a well-known promoter of the local culture and tradition. From there, we can go to the Vistula River. There is a viewing point on the boulevard with a magnificent view of the river and the famous Tczew bridges. Why are they so special? Well, the American Engineering Society has recognized one of them as an international monument of construction engineering. The same list includes, among others, the Paris Eiffel Tower, it is certainly a real distinction!

As you can see, you don't have to go to the other end of Europe to see something extraordinary and unique. Tczew is so close to the Tri-City and has so many interesting things to offer that it would be a shame to omit it when planning your next family trip. Put on comfortable shoes, buy a train ticket and off you go!