The Wielkopolska Region – a magical land
The varied landscape of the Wielkopolska Region is ideal for for active leisure. Local forests and lakes belong to some of the most beautiful in the country. Tourists are enticed by the numerous natural landscape parks established particularly for them, walking routes, bicycle trails, many enchanting historic mansions and residences scattered all over the region. If this is not enough, the historical monuments in the region's capital city, Poznan, and the oldest city in Poland – Gniezno – are a must-see.
The Wielkopolska Region is located in the lowland river basin of three rivers: the Warta, Noteć and Prosna. The region is extremely alluring to people interested in active leisure due to the beautiful scenery abundant in its lakes, forests and hills, which owes its current character to the Baltic glacial period. The Wielkopolska Region boasts various sites connected with the cultural heritage of the country; the Polish statehood was born here after all. This region is also an ideal tourist destination because of its highly developed tourist infrastructure.
Walking and bicycle tours
Legally protected areas constitute 32% of the total surface area of the region and consist of two natural landscape parks; the Wielkopolska National Park and a part of Drawieński National Park, 12 other natural landscape parks of a total surface area of 569,88 hectares, and 97 nature reserves, with 3,500 natural monuments (e.g. the famous Rogalin Oaks).
Vast areas of woodland and their surroundings, besides health value, create favourable conditions for various kinds of sports. Numerous lakes (i.e. Powidzkie, Zbąszyńskie, Chrzypskie, Skorzęcińskie, Dominickie, Pątnowskie, Gosławskie, Mikorzyńskie and Kierskie Lake ) are perfect venues for water sports, and the areas near Czarnków, Chodzież, Mosina, Osieczna and the Hills of Ostrzeszów offer good conditions for skiing. Many footpaths (46 trails of the Polish Touring Association with a total length of 1,181 kilometers can be found in the region), bicycle and canoeing routes (e.g. along the banks of the River Drawa, Gwda, Wda and Prosna) are highly attractive in terms of both cultural and landscape beauty.
The Wielkopolska Region is a paradise for bicycle lovers. The Wielkopolska Bicycle Lane System which was created by the Physical Education and Tourism Department of the Marshal's Office in Poznan and awarded a Polish Tourist Organisation Certificate, operates throughout the Wielkopolska Province. The system covers the whole region with five bicycle trails of regional significance. 'Circle around Poznan' (173 kilometers with 7 connecting trails from Poznan), 'Transwielkopolska Bicycle Route (500 kilometers, from Okonek via Poznan to Siemianice, near Kępno), 'Piast Bicycle Trail' (104 kilometers of trails around mansions, residences and stud farms), 'One Hundred Lakes Bicycle Trail' (110 kilometers of scenic routes in forest and among lakes) and the 'Nadwarciański Bicycle Trail' (260 kilometers, the most environmentally interesting bicycle trail in the Wielkopolska Province, leading through the flood banks in Poznan to Jeziorsko Lake).
By horseback and canoe
A horse route was created especially for horse riding enthusiasts in the southern part of the region. The inter-district Tourist Association 'Hospitable Wielkopolska', consisting of nine Wielkopolska districts, has taken this route under its wing. A horseback tour runs through five districts and its area (known as 'the land of horses') has been selected particularly for this kind of recreation.
A tourist waterway of 690 kilometers known as the Wielka Pętla Wielkopolski (Great Loop of Wielkopolska) was created after provincial authorities noticed that canoeing on the river had become incredibly popular. Two thirds of the waterway is located in the Wielkopolska Region. It flows from Konin, via Poznan and Międzychód to Sanok near Gorzów Wielkopolski, where the River Warta falls into the the River Noteć; then through Czarnków and Nakło in the suburbs of Bydgoszcz, and comes back to Konin through the Górnonoteckim Channel, passing by the Gopło Lake, and the Ślesiński Channel. The final part of the Great Loop (from Kruszowica to Konin–Morzysław port) is the most attractive, and so was named the Wode Wrota Wielkopolski (the Wielkopolska Water Gateway).
Culture comes first
For those interested in regional landscapes, the local castles, palaces and mansions – a great number of which have been renovated – house some valuable museum exhibitions and are well worth seeing. Outdoor parties, cultural events and high standard hotels and conference centers are also being organised at such places. Every historical building has its own unique history, which has survived in Polish culture.
Handbook for tourists visiting the Wielkopolska Region
Wielkopolski National Park – A protected area located 15 kilometers from the south of Poznan in the triangle of Luboń, Mosina, and Stęszew of 7,583.9 hectares. It can be enumerated among the most picturesque in the Wielkopolska Region, because of its various forms of the post-glacial lie of the land (i.e. postglacial channel lakes, of which the most amazing is the Góreckie Lake with the Castle Island and the unique group of flora and fauna of a great natural value). Two educational and five recreational routes (85 kilometers), and 22 kilometers of bicycle trails cross the Park. The Museum and Ecological Educational Center in Jeziory, where the Park's management has its office, is also really worth visiting.
Drawieński National Park – Located in north west Poland, on the border of the Lubuskie, Zachodniopomorskie and Wielkopolska Region, was created to protect the river valley and lakes in the centre of a large forest complex. The most precious elements in the Park are the rivers, retaining their natural character and clean waters, with spawning places for trouts, sea trouts and graylings as well as habitats for otters and beavers. Bank reinforcement of the Pomorskie Embankment and an appealing canoeing route on the River Drawa can be found in the Park. It's picturesque landscapes make the Drawieński National Park a place often visited by tourists.
NATURAL LANDSCAPE PARKS
are protected areas for environmental, cultural and historical reasons, and may be used for tourist and leisure purposes. They cover an area of 175, 000 hectares and are managed by the Board of Natural Landscape Parks of Wielkopolska Region.
Sierakowski Natural Landscape Park (30, 413 hectares) – Located in the western part of the Wielkopolska Region, the park lures tourists with a thick net of marked footpaths, numerous holiday resorts, mansions and park complexes. Countless moraine hills, river valleys and forests outline its scenic beauty.
Powidzki Natural Landscape Park (24, 600 hectares) – Several dozen lakes, a great number of which are bigger than 50 hectares, are situated within its borders (such as the Powidzkie Lake, which ishome to European and Baltic whitefish). Tourist resorts nestled among huge woodland and lake complexes and the designated tourist routes enhance its recreational value. Many protected species and plants grow in abundance here.
Zielonka Forest Landscape Park (12, 000 hectares) – Created to preserve the primeval forest complex in the central Wielkopolska Region (pine and mixed pine and larch woods). Zielonka Forest Landscape Park boasts monumental trees (e.g. an oak in close proximity to Dąbrówka Kościelna) and the Virgin Mountain (Dziewicza Góra), a beauty spot. The picturesque area of the Zielonka Forest Landscape Park invites walking and cycling tours.
Lednica Landcsape Park (7,652 hectares) – Designed to protect landscape, monuments and historical mementoes, relating to the beginnings of the Polish State (Ostrów Lednicki); connected with the precious archeological excavation sites (so called ' Small Open-Air Ethnographic Museum') and the Wielkopolska Ethnographic Park (with wooden rural buildings such as cottages, windmills and agricultural structures from the 17th and the 19th century). The Museum of the Piast Dynastry with a collection of early medieval militaries and the 'Gate of the Third Millennium' (Brama III Tysiąclecia) are located in the Park. Moreover, the Park is cut through the Piast Route (Poznan, Ostrów Lednicki , Gniezno, Trzemeszno, Strzelno, Kruszwica, and Biskupin).
Nadwarciański Landcsape Park (13,428 hectares) – An area of ornithological importance, the park is a nesting place for more than 100 species of birds (such as snipes, black-headed gulls, pewits, windhovers and many others). Nadwarciański Landcsape Park is also a sanctuary for marsh and water birds.
Czeszewski Landcsape Park (15,640 hectares) – Protects a typical post-glacial landscape with a wide valley at the bottom of which flows the River Warta.
The Rogalin Landcsape Park (12,750 hectares) – Protects one of the largest concentrations of pedunculate oaks in Europe. Rococo-classical Rogalin Palace is one of the most well-known historical monuments, park and palace complexes. Three famous 'Rogalin Oaks' called 'Lech' , 'Czech' and 'Rus' grow in the adjacent park, whereas the Rogalin wetlands constitute a sanctuary for birds threatened with extinction.
The General Dezydery Chłapowski Landscape Park (17,200 hectares) – Situated within the Czempiń, Kościan, Krzywiń and Śrem districts. The unique tree-covered field areas are the park's biggest attraction. Numerous farmlands, avenues, forests and ponds located in this area as well as educational and recreational routes and palaces explain why the park is so popular with families.
Cultural Heritage of the Wielkopolska Region is extremely rich, which is a result of the region's history, and its being a cradle of Polish statehood and church. Many monuments from the Wielkopolska Region date back to the 10th and 11th centurys. Apart from Poznan itself, where history has left visible tracks, the charming old buildings and small towns and sites situated on the Piast Trail as well as the castles scattered across the whole region, are of particular interest.
The Piast Trail – One of the biggest attractions of the region. The most significant places on this route are Poznan, Ostrów Lednicki, Gniezno, Trzemeszno, Strzelno, Kruszwica and Biskupin. Monuments connected with the birth of the Polish State and modern history may be admired during a trip along the Piast Trail, which runs through two lake districts: Poznan and Gniezno. The Trail guarantees great entertainment for young people, who can learn something about the history of the Wielkopolska Region.
Ostrów Lednicki – This island was one of the most important centers of Poland's state from the 9th to the 11th century, where a castle with embankments (connected by bridges) ,and later a fortified town with a palatium and chapel complex were built in place of an early medieval settlement (the remains of which can still be visited today). Unfortunately though, some of the buildings were damaged during the Brzetysław' invasion in 1038.
Gniezno – Polish history and culture is intrinsicaly connected with this city. In the second half of the 10th century, Gniezno became the capital city of the State of the Piast Dynasty. St. Wojciech was buried here, and it was also the venue for the Gniezno Convention during which the archdiocese was established. The coronations of Boleslaus Chrobry and later of Mieszko II and Boleslaus the Brave were held here in 1025.
Trzemeszno – Many historical monuments of Polish culture and history can be seen here, including the Monastic Convent of Regular Canons, the late baroque buildings of the abbot Michał Kosmowski foundation, the Church of Assumption of St. Mary, a Benedictine cloister founded in 1130 by Boleslaus Krzywousty featuring baroque and classical elements from the 18th century, and a late baroque hospital built between 1787-1791.
Strzelno – a town with two Romanesque churches; a post-Norbertan church under the invocation of St. Trinity with extremely valuable Romanesque columns dated to 1170, and the dome of St. Prokop, built on a circular plan.
Kruszwica – A town famous for its historical monuments (a Gothic brick tower known as 'the Mouse Tower'), the remains of a 14th century castle built by Kazimierz The Great, and a Romanesque collegiate church under the invocation of St. Peter and St. Paul from 1120-1140).
Biskupin – A popular spot for tourists, with historical remains, archaeological finds and partly reconstructed fortifications of a fortified settlement built between 747 - 722 BC. Archaeological festivities, seasonal runs of the narrow-gauge Żnin – Gąsawa railway, and cruises on the Biskupińskie Lake all take place annually here.
CULTURAL ROUTES in the Wielkopolska Region were established to better facilitate sightseeing of the most valuable buildings connected with the past, history and culture of this one particular region. Organised trips give a chance to visit and explore many interesting places.
The Piast Trail connected with the history of the Polish State belongs to the most frequently visited tourist routes. It leads from Poznan, via Ostrów Lednicki, Gniezno, Trzemeszno, Mogilno, Strzelno, and Kruszwicę to Inowrocław, and then back to Biskupin, via Gniezno to Giecz. Wanders along the Trail provide an opportunity to acquaint ourselves with the migrations of the first Poles, tradition and religion of the Polish State of former days.
Cistercian Trail – Charts the Cistercians' migrations in the Wielkopolska Region. Several historical monuments (monasteries and baroque churches with beautiful elements and valuable works of art), founded after the Cistercian monks were brought to Poland in the Middle Ages, still survive today and are definitely worth seeing. Many Cistercian abbeys (i.e. Owińska, Wągrowiec, monastery and a church; Tarnowo Pałuckie, stunning 19th century palace in a style resembling the 17th architecture of French castles; Łękno, Słupca, Ląd with a Cistercian abbey; Pyzdry, Lubiń, Przemęt, Wieluń Zaobrzański, Kaczor, Obra, Gościkowo, Bledzew, Zemsko, Kamionna and Orzeszkowo) are located in the Wielkopolska Region.
Roman Route – A tourist route of a cultural, educational and religious character for young people, those interested in history and pilgrims, it also played a role in the beginnings of the Polish State. The most important places and historical monuments from the time of the Piast Dynasty are situated on this Route. Roman churches that have survived untill today can be found in Cieszyn (the 11th century Roman rotunda of St. Nicolas) Giecz, Gniezno (The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, also known as Saint Mary's Cathedral), Konin, Ostrów Lednicki, Poznan, Trzemeszno (monastery brewery), Tulce (St. Mary's Cathedral). Historical monuments on the Roman Route are marked with special signs. The Route is one of the most important projects in Europe, visited not only by tourists from the Wielkopolska Region but from all over the world.
St. Jacob Route – In the Wielkopolska Region, this constitutes a historical pilgrimage route, starting in Gniezno leading via Lednicę, Murowaną Goślinę, Poznan, Żabno, Lubiń, Święciechowa, Leszno, Wschowa, Głogów, Polkowice, Gromadka, Bolesławiec, Lubań, and Zgorzelec to Santiago de Compostella. Sacral buildings (churches connected with the life of St. Jacob) can be found along the Route. A white shell with the red cross of St. Jacob marks the Gniezno, Głogów and Zgorzelec trail.
For more information, please visit our website at www.wielkopolska-turystyka.pl