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.

Starogard Gdański

Starogard Gdański

     Starogard is one of Pomerania’s oldest cities. With a population of nearly 50 thousand, the Capital of Kociewie is an urban commune that also houses the authorities of the rural commune and of the Starogard District.
The name itself, as Starigrod, first appeared in 1198 in a document from the Pomeranian Duke Grzymisław, who gave away the Starogard land to the Knights of St. John. In 1308-1309 the Teutonic Knights took over the Gdańsk Pomerania, which covered the Joannite town, along with its environs. It is the Teutonic Order that contributed to the town's economic development. In 1348 Grand Master Heinrich Dusemer granted Starogard a town charter.

The central point of the town is a spacious market square with the Old Town Hall located in the middle of the square. There are two historic churches nearby: the 16th-Century St. Matthew's Gothic Church and the early 19th-Century St. Catherine's Church. The bookshops surrounding the market square offer maps and tourist folders. The Old Town was encircled by a mediaeval defensive wall, of which the north-western and north-eastern sections still remain in good condition. The corners of the walls and openings of the gates were fortified with towers, of which three have survived until the present.

Starogard's most valuable historic sites and structures include:

The north-western section of the walls is the best preserved. It rises up to 5 metres, with a width of nearly 2 m. Three corner towers still stand and the characteristic rectangular layout of the Old Town streets remains unchanged, along with the streets encircling the town, and running along the walls in the internal part of the town. Today, the Gdańsk and Szewska towers belong to the Museum of the Kociewie Land and house both permanent historical and ethnographical exhibitions, and many interesting temporary exhibitions. The Młyńska Tower (also known as Tczewska) is a reconstruction of old fortifications. It was set on stone foundations in the first quarter of the 14th Century. Thanks to its private owner, the half-timbered structure of the upper floor and roofing were recreated. Nowadays, besides the corner section of the defensive walls, it is a charming fragment of the town's mediaeval panorama.

Starogard's Market Square is the oldest fragment of the town. The Wierzyca's left bank featured a mediaeval grange and a village belonging to Piotr Święca. Since in 1305 this land was purchased by the Teutonic Knights, they soon started delimiting the area to develop the fortified settlement. The construction work was led by Theodotus of Florence, to whom Starogard owes its spatial arrangement, with a regular network of streets that stretch from the centrally-located market square. The square is 107x107 m, and is larger than the Old Town Market Square in Warsaw. The almost entirely wooden Old Town was utterly destroyed in a fire of 1772. Today's buildings of the Old Town around the market square, erected on mediaeval foundations and cellars, comes from the 19th Century. The centre of the market square is occupied by the Town Hall, with two churches at two of its corners: the mediaeval St. Matthew's Basilica Parish Church and the Post-Evangelical St. Catherine's Church built at the turn of the 19th Century.

The Town Hall
As it can be seen today, the Gothic Revival structure crowned with an iron flag with the date of 1339, when Starogard was granted a coat of arms (in 1348 it received the town charter under Kulm law), comes from the 19th Century. The original Town Hall was burnt down before the end of the Middle Ages, and the one that came after was severely damaged during the Swedish wars. Nevertheless the old Gothic foundations have been preserved. The building features a memorial plate saying: "In this Town Hall on 17 August 1769, in response to the call of the Bar Confederation, a Confederation of the Pomeranian Voivodeship was established to defend the sovereignty of the Republic of Poland and protect the Catholic faith." The Town Hall now houses the Registry of Vital Records and a branch of the Museum of the Kociewie Land.

Its basilica-like form belongs to Starogard's most magnificent historic building, which has an interesting shape and is clearly worth recommending to any pilgrim and tourist also for its valuable and unique interior, which features such items as a Gothic stoup, a an imposing (42 sq. m) 15th-Century fresco depicting the Last Judgment, a Renaissance tombstone of Jerzy Niemojewski, mediaeval woodcarving works - a statue of St. Jacob in a Rococo altar and the famous Starogard Christ (copy; the original, from about 1320, can be found in the Diocesan Museum in Pelplin).

The church is located in the north-east corner of the Starogard market. It features partly-preserved genuine furnishings and interior decor. Rebuilt in 1873, the church tower is the most important structure in the old part of the town, serving as a good orientation point during walks in Starogard.

Milling traditions in Starogard date back to 1283, with a water mill mentioned as existing here. In 1871 it was purchased by Franciszek Wiechert, who transformed it into a great family enterprise. Located near the complex of mills, the eclectic palace with sophisticated ornamentations comes from 1893, when it was renovated to serve as the showcase of the Wiechert family. The entire complex - a private property undergoing conservation and reconstruction work - is not available to tourists.