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.

Tczew

Tczew

     Tczew is the fourth-largest town in the Pomeranian Voivodeship. It is here that traffic routes from Germany to Russia and Lithuania, and from Scandinavia to Southern Europe, cross. Tczew has a population of over 60 thousand. Its image has been changing for several years into a resident-friendly town that is also attractive to tourists. One of the Local Government’s strategic goals is the return of Tczew to the Vistula. This resulted in the development of leisure areas by the Vistula’s banks, the construction of a river landing, and the creation of a rich cultural package.
Tczew ranks among the oldest towns of the Gdańsk Pomerania, boasting more than 800 years of confirmed history, now seen in its numerous historic buildings. The most interesting include the Tczew Bridge, constructed 150 years ago and recognised by the American Society of Civil Engineers as a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark (the same list features the Eiffel Tower in Paris) and the oldest of Tczew's historic buildings - the 13th-Century Parish Church. The first mention of a settlement called Trsow, which is associated with Tczew, comes from 1198.


Tczew is also the town that features the oldest Polish Town Council - Councillors are mentioned in documents as early as in 1258 - two years before the town was granted its charter by Duke Sambor II. The most prominent historical residents of the town include Johann Reinhold Forster (1729-1798), a famous geographer and naturalist, participant in Captain J. Cook's second journey around the world. The tenement house in which he was born still stands (4 Hallera Sq.)


The town features several places well worth visiting:

Bridges are a particular attraction of Tczew. The first of them was a road bridge from 1851-1857, at that time one of world's longest bridges (837 metres long). Its construction cost 4 million thaler. The cornerstone was placed by Frederick William IV. At first, it featured ten turrets and two entrance gates with beautiful portals - only four turrets have survived to this day. The second, rail bridge, was built in 1888-1890.


A grant from the European Regional Development Fund, support from the Ministers of Labour and the Economy, and the town budget funds, made it possible to establish the Regional Exhibition Centre of the Lower Vistula - The Factory of Arts in Tczew. The institution operates an innovative package of activities to promote Kociewie's heritage and runs a tourist information centre. It organises exhibitions connected with the sites of the economic use of the Vistula over the centuries, but is also a centre for activities of non-Governmental organisations towards the preservation and popularisation of Kociewie's regional culture. The institution has become a place teeming with life and very popular among the residents, tourists and students of local schools. The Centre's package includes exhibitions, lessons on regionalism and history, walks in the town, and artistic workshops. After a break connected with the redevelopment of the building, the Vistula Museum, which is a branch of the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk, opened its exhibitions in the Centre. It is the only museums in Poland and one of four in the world, dedicated to a river.

The urban layout has survived since the Middle Ages with very few changes. The old narrow streets - Garncarska, Kościelna, Podmurna, Rybacka, and Zamkowa - have preserved not only their names, but also the charm of the bygone centuries. Hallera Square is the central point of the Old Town. The art nouveau tenements around it come from the 19th and 20th Centuries. It is interesting that most of them were built on mediaeval foundations.


Remains of the defensive walls
As early as in the 12th Century Tczew was surrounded by earthen and wooden ramparts. In the 14th Century new defensive walls were built of brick with added towers and keeps. The walls were about 1270 m long. In the 16th Century the town had 5 gates, including 2 wickets and 12 towers and reinforced keeps. The 14th Century walls now stand only as fragments on Zamkowa, Wodna, Rybacka, Podmurna, Krótka, and J. Dąbrowskiego Streets. Work towards renovating and exposing the historic walls is being gradually carried out.


Dating back to the 13th Century, it is the oldest historic building in the town. The church is a three-nave structure built in the Vistula Gothic style with a Baroque interior decor. In 1993, during renovation work, three walled-up recesses were discovered with several layers of paintings. The oldest of them, from the 15th Century, is a fresco depicting women saints: Catherine, Elizabeth, Helen, Irene, Hedwig of Silesia, Genevieve and Dorothy. Each of the saints holds her attributes - spindle, basket, church, cross, etc. It was uncommon for mediaeval religious art to depict the figures of women alone. The church suffered several fires. In 1982 the highest part of the tower - the wooden belfry - burnt down. Following reconstruction, the top of the tower is made of brick. It features four bells: The Redeemer of Man, Mary, John Paul II, and Vaclav.


Wooden, with a brick foundation, and a revolving head, the windmill was constructed in 1950 and is a unique tourist attraction of the landscape of Pomeranian towns. It features rarely-seen five sails and a revolving head. Since 1983 it has been private property. The windmill is featured in the town's logo.