Warmia and Masuria
Warmia and Masuria. North eastern Poland
Lakes, nature and history
Warmia and Masuria are two historical lands in north eastern Poland. The region is called the land of thousend lakes. More speciffically there are 2600 lakes here. This is a unique area in Europe. The district had been elected as one of the 28 finalists of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. A reminder of the extraordinary history of these lands are numerous historical souvenirs, such as gothic castles, historic cities.
The Warmińsko-Mazurskie province lies in north eastern Poland, bordering Russia in the north. Apart from the historical lands of Warmia and Mazury, there is also Powiśle within the boundaries of Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship.
The Masurian Lake District has more than two thousand lakes larger than one hectare. Already in the 18th century, channels were created to join the larger ones. This gave rise to the trail of the Great Masurian Lakes – one of the most beautiful inland sailing routes in Europe (about 130 km long). Lakes connected by canals create ideal conditions for sailing. Untouched nature that hides the habitats of cormorants and other unique animal and plant species.
The 158 lakes included in the silent zone are covered by an absolute ban on using motor engines and sailing outside of the designated routes. The Łuknajno lake – a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – protects a colony of the mute swan, the largest in Europe, as well as 96 other bird species
History is the second reason, next to nature, to visit Warmia and Masuria. From the 13th century on, the Lakeland was successively part of the monastic state of Teutonic Knights - a military and religious order of German knights, priests, and lay brothers, originally enrolled circa 1191 as the Teutonic Knights of St. Mary of Jerusalem. Latter the Prusian state and German state. In modern times, while part of the German Empire, it was the location of the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes (1914) and the Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes (1915) during World War I. After World War II this area was divided between Poland and Rusia (Kaliningrad region).
Gothic castles route
Warmia and Masuria are land of Gothic castles. This is a testimony to the knights" past. On the route there are many castles. For example: The Castle of the Warmia Chapter is the oldest building in Olsztyn, erected in the 14th century in the bend of the River Łyna. The administrator of the castle (in the years 1516-1521) was Nicolaus Copernicus himself. The castle in Lidzbark Warmiński was built in the 14th century as a new seat of the Warmia bishops. There is much to admire, the castle is considered a historical monument and is undoubtedly one of the most valuable monuments of Gothic architecture in Poland. Ostróda Castle built in the fourteenth century on the banks of the Drwęca River by the Order of the Teutonic Knights. The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Kętrzyn was erected in the second half of the 14th century. The gothic building was surrounded by a wall with three towers and a gate on the side of the town, fragments of which preserved until today. In 1945 it had been burnt down and rebuilt after more than 15 years (1962-1967) according to original gothic conventions. Fot. Lidzbark castle
The Wolf’s Lair, Hitler’s headquarters
Germany’s secret headquarters on the Eastern Front. The heavily fortified concrete bunker buildings were protected behind multiple layers of security and the location of the site was a well-kept secret, ensuring that the Nazi leaders could strategize in relative safety. The Wolf"s Lair was build in 1941, miles removed from the nearest village in the forest between the lakes Siercze and Moj, 9 km from Ketrzyn.
In 1944 colonel Claus von Stauffenberg was able to sneak a suitcase bomb into a meeting room where he knew Hitler would be. Even after the meeting Stauffenberg had planned to set off the bomb in was moved to a different space and a different time, he was able to detonate the bomb with Hitler in the room. Miraculously, and unfortunately Hitler survived the blast with minor injuries. Given the blast and the swiftly approaching Russian forces, the Nazis abandoned the base by the next year and destroyed most of it with explosives.
Tour guide in several language is available in Wolf"s Lair on foot.
The viaducts built in the early 20th century are an example of exceptional architecture. The two viaducts were part of the already unused section of railway line between Goldap and Zytkiejmy, a length of 31km. The bridges are of a massive size and are considered the highest in Poland. They are about 200m long and 36m high. They are a reinforced concrete structure having five arches with identical curves and just 15m apart. The architecture is characterised by the size of their proportions and the pillars are decorated with reliefs modelled on the Roman aqueducts at Pont du Gard. The rail track was dismantled in 1945 by the Soviet Army.
photo: Warmia and Masuria Travel, PJ
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