Bytow – attractions in the city and the surrounding area

There is no shortage of tourist attractions in Bytow! One of them is the Teutonic castle, considered one of the largest strongholds of the order of warrior knights. The castle houses the West Kashubian Museum with numerous collections and works by local artists.

You can also go on a trip along the Mill Route, admire the medieval urban layout of the city, and at the end see the original railway bridge over the Boruja River. The bridge in Bytow was built on the model of Roman aqueducts and connects the banks of the ravine with the river at the bottom. We invite you to get to know Bytow and its attractions up close.

The bridge over Boruja, photo: UM Bytów

The bridge over Boruja, photo: UM Bytów

Railway bridge over the Boruja River

Bytow is a city that is successively expanded, modernized and seems to be more and more beautiful. It is also gaining greater importance as an administrative, economic and tourist center. Residents treat the monuments with care and attention to every detail, making the city attractive to tourists. Interesting places lure people to Bytow. One of them is an aqueduct styled as a railway bridge over the Boruja River.

The bridge’s structure is modelled on Roman aqueducts and consists of six huge, brick arch spans. They rest on brick granite supports. At the top of each pillar there is a circular relief made of sandstone. In the decorative frames you can see characteristic emblems of the Prussian railways, two coats of arms of Bytow, the coat of arms of Pomorskie, and the coats of arms of the Reich and Prussia.

One version of the story says that tracks were never laid on the bridge and no train passed over it… It is probable that due to an incorrectly routed railway line that was supposed to connect Bytow with Miastko, the builders missed the bridge with the tracks. This story seems quite possible, especially since about 150 meters away there is an artificial railway embankment along which the railway line was laid.

Bytów, tower of the church of St. Katarzyna, photo: BYtów City Hall

Bytów, tower of the church of St. Katarzyna, photo: BYtów City Hall

The Teutonic castle in Bytow

In the XIVth century, Bytow became part of the Teutonic Order. The very beginnings of the town of Bytow date back to the early Middle Ages. There was a stronghold in this place, mentioned by Gallus Anonymous and called in his chronicle (in Latin) Bitom. The former stronghold was located approximately 500 meters west of today’s castle and was then called “Smolarnia”.

The oldest record of the city’s name comes from 1321, when Bytow became the private property of the von Behr family. After 8 years, the Bytow Lands, together with the town and the stronghold, were bought by the Teutonic Order and built a huge, majestic fortified castle. Today, there is a hotel and a restaurant in the castle, you can stay overnight or eat delicious Polish cuisine and more. Part of the castle is occupied by a museum and a library with old manuscripts – interesting places to see.

Castle in Bytów, photo: Pomeranian Voivodeship

Castle in Bytów, photo: Pomeranian Voivodeship

The rooms on the ground floor were once occupied by knights and servants. Currently, there is an ethnographic exhibition presenting the everyday life of the Kashubians. The exhibition is divided into parts devoted to land cultivation, animal breeding and crafts, including: weaving, basketry, blacksmithing and wheelwrighting.

A winding staircase leads to the first and second floors, which visitors climb to learn about the history of the castle and the history of the Bytow region. Information about the Gryfit family, ruling this land, attracts attention. Temporary exhibitions are located on the second floor. In the attic you can admire contemporary Kashubian works of art. The castle tour route also leads to one of the towers and the defensive walls.

West-Kashubian Museum in the Bytow castle

Tourists who visit this place can see for themselves the size of the castle. We won’t see all its majesty in the photos due to the lush trees growing at the foot of the stronghold. Only in the Courtyard you can see what a huge fortress the Teutonic Knights built. The West Kashubian Museum takes advantage of the momentum of those building the castle for its headquarters. Throughout its history, Bytow was a multinational city. Until the end of the war, until 1945, the inhabitants of Bytow were Kashubians, Poles, Germans, and in the 1930s also Jews. Pursuant to the treaties, Bytow was granted to Poland. The German community, even though it constituted the largest percentage of Bytow’s population, was forced to leave the city. In their place, Poles from the Borderlands and Kashubians settled, and after 1947, Ukrainians from Operation “Wistula” arrived.

In 1945, a significant part (about 60%) of the buildings in the center of Bytow were destroyed by Soviet troops. The ruins of the Catholic church remind residents of these tragic events.

Traces of international influence in the Bytow region can be found in artistic creation and works collected in the museum. The history of the city is reflected here in sculptures and paintings.

At Bytow Market Square

An interesting attraction for architecture lovers is the Greek Catholic church of St. George – a former evangelical church from 1685. Inside, there are carved baroque stalls, an iconostasis (the so-called tsarist gates) and a baroque tabernacle, which was brought by displaced persons from Surochowo near Jaroslaw in Podkarpacie. An international and multi-religious community lived in Bytow. We still have traces of this today.

At the Bytow market square, it is worth seeing three houses from the XVIIIth century. There is also a lonely brick tower. It is a relic of the Gothic church of St.  Catherine destroyed in 1945, where the City History Museum is located. Visitors to the city are very impressed by the “new” church of St. Catherine – an eclectic building with an extensive facade and a slender tower from the mid-XIXth century.

Bytow area – what is worth seeing?

In the Bytow area you will find many interesting attractions and places worth seeing. An excellent view is provided by Siemierzycka Hill, approximately 10 km from Bytow, near the villages of Rekowo and Plotowo. It is the highest hill in the Bytow Lake District, and a tower with an observation deck was built on its top.

If you are looking for a rural atmosphere and want to be closer to nature, it is worth heading towards the village of Plotowo. There are two tourist facilities there, open to visitors. The first of them is the Polish School Museum and the Styp-Rekowski Homestead. This is a well-known noble family in Kashuby that has contributed to preserving the Polishness of these lands.

The family’s wooden manor house, which no longer exists today, was a refuge for Poles in the Bytow region since the XVIIIth century. With their attitude and actions, the members of the family effectively supported the Kashubians of Bytow in resisting Germanization. The revitalized building houses a historical exhibition devoted to the Styp-Rekowski family and the history of the village of Plotowo.

In the town of Pyszno, 12 km from Bytow, in the Bukowa Hill reserve, we can find the only Evangelical foresters’ cemetery in Pomorskie. The oldest grave belongs to Otto Heinrich Smalian, a forester from nearby Sierzno, buried here in 1874. An inscription is carved on the stone obelisk, which in Polish translation reads: “Here, under this stone, in his beloved grove, rests Mr. Otto Heinrich Smalian, royal forester, born on September 18 in Stralsund, died on February 17 in Sierzno.” Rare tall cast iron crosses have been preserved in the forest cemetery.

Lake Jelen and lakes in the Bytow Lake District

The Bytow Lake District is a wonderful place to relax in nature, in the peace and quiet of Kashuby. The lakes in the Bytow Lake District are crystal clear and picturesquely situated among gentle hills covered with vegetation. The abundance of forests, ecologically clean areas, rivers and lakes means that those who want to relax in silence will find a wonderful shelter here.

Lake Jelen is located in the northern region of Bytow and is primarily used for recreation and tourism. It also attracts those craving good food to the local restaurant of the same name. Accommodation includes small guesthouses with regional cuisine and resorts with hotels and bungalow-type summer houses.

It is worth coming to this area for a weekend or longer and enjoying the climate and beauty of Kashuby.



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