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  Architecture and History

Nowy Staw

Situated on the banks of the Święta river, in the very heart of Żuławy, Nowy Staw is a trading town with a well-preserved medieval urban arrangement. It is worth paying a visit to a gothic collegiate church of St Mathew which is the biggest church of Żuławy, a neo-gothic church with a characteristic “Pencil” steeple which presently houses an art gallery, a large rectangular market square, historical tenement houses and some technical monuments from the 19th century: a water tower, a malt-house and a sugar refinery.


Arcade Houses

The most characteristic elements of Żuławy architecture are arcade houses. Built from wood and brick, they were dwelt by rich peasants who worked on the fertile land in the delta of the Wisła river. The oldest arcade houses come from the 18th century. An arcade is a terrace under a part of a house which is supported by wooden pillars richly decorated with sculpturing. It comes as a characteristic feature of architecture in the Żuławy region. The biggest and most beautiful arcade houses can be found, among other villages, in Nowy Staw, Klecie, Kaniczki, Stalewo, Świerki, Lasowice Wielkie and Bystrze.


Mennonite Cemeteries

The Mennonites, who were also referred to as the Dutch, appeared as an extreme religious group of Dutch Protestants. Having suffered from severe religious persecutions in the countries of today’s Benelux region, they found their second home in the wetlands of Żuławy. Polish rulers warmly welcomed the Mennonites in the regions of Żuławy and the Wisła valley because the Dutch knew many secrets of wetland and marsh drainage. Although they were not numerous, the Mennonites contributed considerably to the present condition of this region with their hard work. They were persecuted again in the 19th century by the Prussian administration and many of them had to leave this land. However, they completely disappeared from Żuławy after the Second World War, in the result of forced expulsion. The relics of their original culture and strict religious rules are few chapels and cemeteries where it is possible to see richly decorated gravestones. The most impressive ones can be found in Stogi (the biggest Mennonite cemetery in Żuławy), Szaleniec and Barcice.


Heritage Churches of Powiśle and Żuławy

The region of Powiśle and Żuławy is amazingly rich in precious monuments of sacral architecture. There are some dozens of medieval gothic churches. They were constructed at the beginning of Teutonic domination in this area in the 13th and 14th century. The new Teutonic administration aimed at christianisation of pagans who were native inhabitants of the region – the old Prussian tribes.

Most of these churches have survived and we can admire them today. Bicycle tourists may feel surprised to see such valuable monuments of architecture in small villages of Powiśle during just a one-day trip.

The most interesting ones are (alphabetically) churches in Bągart, Czarne Dolne, Dzierzgoń, Gardea, Jasna, Kalwa, Krasna Łąka, Lichnowy, Królewo, Miłoradz, Nowy Targ, Nowy Staw, Obrzynowo, Pietrzwałd, Prabuty, Stary Dzierzgoń, Stare Miasto, Sztum, Trumieje, Tychnowy, Żuławka Sztumska; shrines of St Family and Blessed Dorota of Mątowy in Mątowy Wielkie, the ruins of the church in Gnojewo and a cemetery chapel (an ossuary) in Bystrze.


Gentry Houses: Manors and Palaces of Powiśle

Powiśle used to be a homeland of many well-known gentry families. These lineages often had their roots in the medieval times. They represented Pomeranian gentry which contributed to Polish Gentry Commonwealth. Later, in the XIX century, some of these families underwent severe germanisation. However, there are also examples of such lineages as the Sierakowscy family of Waplewo Wielkie which come as a great pride for every Pole. Today the manor in Waplewo houses the Polish Gentry Museum.

There are dozens of such fascinating objects in the region of Sztum and Kwidzyn. The most interesting ones, which have survived until today in different condition, can be found in (alphabetically) Cieszymowo Wielkie, Czernin, Górki near Kwidzyn, Klecewo, Krzykosy, Licz, Otłowiec, Podzamcze, Rakowiec, Stążki and also in Nowa Wioska and Miłosna near Kwidzyn. Last two are now the stubs.


Before „the Swedish Deluge”: the Reminders of Polish and Swedish Wars

In the 17th century Powiśle was the scene of battles and fights between the army of the Swedish king, Gustavus Adolphus and the Polish Crown units led by Grand Hetman Koniecpolski. Several major battles took place here and one of their reminders is the earthwork called “Szwedzkie Szańce” (Swedish Entrenchments) located in the forests of Benowo. There is also a stone commemorating the place of Polish victory at Trzciana in 1629, the place in Stary Targ where a truce was signed and the place in Sztumska Wieś where a peace agreement ended the war.


The 19th and 20th Centuries: the Forgotten History

The times of partitions, when Poland did not exist on the map, were the times of intensive industrialisation in this region. The Prussian authorities constructed an extensive network of railways with two hubs in Malbork and Myślice. Today only a small part of this network has been remained: the embankments of the railways destroyed during the Second World War have been partially converted into attractive bicycle routes, such as those ones near Prabuty.

The reminders of the Prussian times are also “Kamienie Wilhelma” (Kaiser Wilhelm’s Memorial Stones) – memorial stones located in the forests near Dzierzgoń in the places where the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II used to go hunting. He often used to visit a little palace in Prakwice which does not exist any longer.

Only several dozens of years ago, on the top of Lisia Góra (Fox Hill) near Jasna there used to be an observation tower called “a Bismarck tower”. Today only some remnants of its foundations can be found here.

The history of Polish resistance against the germanisation process is connected with the manor of in Waplewo Wielkie. It belonged to the Sierakowscy family which contributed significantly to the fight for Polish identity of the region. The Poles connected with so called “Szkoła Polska” (Polish School) in Piekło also participated greatly in these efforts. During the interwar period, Piekło used to be a village located in Germany where the inhabitants identified themselves as Polish, and they built a school where children were taught in Polish. The building has survived the war, and it can be visited today.

2014© Koło Gotyku