Mennonite bike trail

Trail is one of the most interesting cultural trails in Pomorskie, the theme of which is the heritage of the former inhabitants of the Low Lands, scattered throughout its area.

Mennonite Trail, photo: Pomorskie Travel

Mennonite Trail, photo: Pomorskie Travel

On the route from Gdansk to Elblag, this wonderful bicycle route connects sightseeing attractions related to the history of settlement in the delta of the Wistula River. The route has a supra-regional character, as it runs through the Pomorskie and Warminsko-Mazurskie voivodeships.

Along the way, in almost every village we will come across an arcaded house, a Gothic church, wooden cottages or historic hydrotechnical devices, and in some places even a windmill. Here time stopped a long time ago. Adding to this the extraordinary Low Land region landscape, space up to the horizon, rows of willows planted along numerous drainage channels, a trip along the Mennonite Trail will turn out to be unforgettable and will make you reflect on the phenomenon of the Low Lands.

Mennonite Trail, photo: Pomorskie Travel

Mennonite Trail, photo: Pomorskie Travel

Mennonite Trail, photo: Pomorskie Travel

Mennonite Trail, photo: Pomorskie Travel

The Mennonite Trail is marked in red at the beginning and in black on the section from the bridge over the Vistula River in Kiezmark. The beginning of the trail is at the building of the Voivodship Office (approx. 1 km to the railway station / 200 m to Srodmiescie SKM). Attention! Departure from Gdansk to Wroblewo along the red “Motlawa” trail.

It leads mainly along asphalt roads with low traffic intensity and, in several sections, along provincial and national roads. Flat terrain is conducive to covering long distances, but the opponent in the open area of the low Lands can be the wind. Due to the length of the trail, the route must be divided into two or even three stages. However, you should think about accommodation in advance, because it is not easy in the Low Lands, only in the vicinity of the Vistula Spit it should not be a problem.

Mennonite Trail, photo: Pomorskie Travel

Mennonite Trail, photo: Pomorskie Travel

The initiator of the establishment of the Mennonite Trail was the Roman Klim, he was an outstanding touring expert and promoter of the cultural and natural heritage of the Low Lands. The route leads through the most important towns, where there are numerous artefacts of the Mennonite culture and the key attractions of this area.

Żuławy, photo: Pomorskie Travel/M.Ochocki

Żuławy, photo: Pomorskie Travel/M.Ochocki

Żuławy, photo: Pomorskie Travel/M.Ochocki

Żuławy, photo: Pomorskie Travel/M.Ochocki

Mennonites bicycle trail

The first part of the trail, from Gdansk to the bridge in Kiezmark, leads through Gdansk Low Lands, where not Mennonite culture artefacts predominate. It is worth visiting the capital of the Low Lands – Nowy Dwor Gdanski, where numerous memorabilia of the former settlers of the Vistula Delta have been collected in the low Land Historical Park. In the vicinity of Malbork, you can find numerous Mennonite cemeteries, and the last stage runs through the least known Elbląskie Low Lands. It is also the area of the greatest depression in these areas. Further along Druzno Lake, which is a paradise for waterfowl and ornithologists, it leads to Elblag, where the trip ends.

The area of the Low Lands, through which the Mennonite Trail runs, is almost flat and allows you to cover long distances quickly. Due to the prevailing western winds in Pomorskie region, it is better to cover it in the direction from Gdansk to Elblag. On the way, the journey can be interrupted in Tczew or Malbork (good railway connections with the Tri-City).

Mennonite Trail, photo: Pomorskie Travel

Mennonite Trail, photo: Pomorskie Travel

Mennonite Trail, photo: Pomorskie Travel

Mennonite Trail, photo: Pomorskie Travel

Mennonitism

Is a branch of Anabaptism, was founded about five centuries ago by the Dutchman Menno Simmons. The followers of Mennonitism, persecuted in their homeland, came to Poland in the middle of the XVIth century, e.g. to the area of today’s Low Lands. The Commonwealth, exceptionally tolerant at that time, accepted new settlers, whom it included in the process of developing the marshy, depressive lands of the Low Lands region. The largest concentration of Mennonites was in the Great Low Lands. It was there that they settled and worked to protect their lands from further floods. The Mennonites created a culture with extremely strict customs and rules, whose main “religion” was work.

Żuławy, fot. Pomorskie Travel/M.Ochocki

Arcaded houses

One of the characteristic features of the architecture of the Low Lands are the so-called arcaded houses. These are buildings with a wooden frame structure filled with brick, the arcade creates a protruding floor from the side of the road based on wooden pillars. The number of pillars depended on the wealth of the host. Initially, there were warehouses in the arcade as well as in the entire attic, with time its role began to transform into a residential part. Although the arcades was used in the Low Lands houses probably already in the Middle Ages, the oldest preserved building dates back to the beginning of the XIXth century. Since they were already known in the Middle Ages, it is a mistake to assume that they were invented by Dutch settlers – Mennonites.

Żuławy, fot. Pomorskie Travel/M.Ochocki

Żuławy, fot. Pomorskie Travel/M.Ochocki

The increase in wealth of the Low Lands peasants can also be seen in the architecture of arcaded houses. Initially, the house had a gable arcade facing the road, the next stage was to add a wing on one side, finally the building had a centrally located arcade, and symmetrical parts of the house were located on both sides. In the Low Lands area, there were also buildings without arcades and the so-called Dutch homesteads, i.e. houses in which the residential part was connected with farm buildings. However, those are the houses with arcades that are a characteristic feature of the buildings of the Low Lands villages and create the unique atmosphere of this region. The Mennonite Trail is a beautiful trace of cultural heritage in the Low Lands.

Places worth seeing while visiting the Mennonite trail

  • Wroblewo a half-timbered church from the XVIIth-XVIIIth century, located right on the Motlawa River. In 1591, Urszula Scheweke, a merchant from Gdansk, donated 4 wing altar made around 1500 to the chapel in Wroblewo. In 1945, 3 of them were hidden by a resident of the village, Richard Nicel, and one was destroyed by the Russians. The original wings can be admired at the National Museum in Gdansk.
  • Milocin a beautifully renovated arcaded house from 1731. An impressive building with an arcade supported by 8 pillars and a richly decorated gable with a wooden structure. In the hall there is a wooden gallery with a decorative balustrade drone. An arcaded house from 1720 with an original frame structure with a decorative arrangement of beams, an arcade supported by 8 columns decorated with swords and the original arrangement of rooms inside. (visiting possible after prior arrangement with the owner), Gothic church with XVIIth-XVIIIth century décor.
  • Kiezmark a beautiful half-timbered church from the XVIIIth century, inside which it is worth paying attention to the stone coats of arms of Gdansk from the 16th century, Baroque furnishings and tombstones in the floor, an old cemetery, and a vantage point overlooking the Vistula valley.
  • Żuławki/Drewnica a living open-air museum of the low Lands architecture, a dozen or so wooden and arcaded houses from the XVIIIth-XIXth centuries, and the only grist windmill in the Low Lands from 1718. An extraordinary monument of hydrotechnics – the lock called “Gdansk Head” at the fork of the Szkarpawa and the Vistula
  • Palczewo dutch windmill, wooden church from 1712, wooden houses.
  • Stogi Malborskie the largest Mennonite cemetery in Poland, where 2.6 ha, 260 grave frames have been preserved, 90 tombstones, including 78 tomb stones characteristic of the Mennonite culture and others in the form of crosses, plaques and tombs.
  • Szaleniec (Madman) the Mennonite cemetery was established at the end of the XVIIIth century and functioned until 1945. A dozen or so impressive sandstone grave stones with visible inscriptions have survived, the oldest stele comes from 1806 from the grave of Hermann Penner.

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