Podlaskie region

There is a region in Poland that can be easily called … The Wild East. It still has not been affected and overwhelmed by today’s Great Tourism movement. It is in fact unspoiled, as yet. Only a small group of the initiated knows that apart from the pristine quality of its nature, a fascinating borderlands culture waits here for those who wish to explore this region. And where do we find this mysterious place? The Podlaskie Voivodship, the best kept secret in Poland.

The Podlaskie Voivodship lies in the north-eastern part of our country, just next to the borders with Lithuania and Belarus. Here, the civilizing progress of our times is constantly losing its battle with nature which lies protected in four national parks and three natural parks.

The Suwalskie Lake District, with the deepest lake in this lowland part of Europe – Hancza Lake, cobalt blue, surrounded by rock formations, bottoms out 108 meters below the surface and is in the north of the region. The area is fairy tale like, the landscape sculpted by glaciers with the Suwalki Landscape Park spread across it.

Here you will find the wild Augustowski Forest embracing the Wigry Lake and the historical Augustowski Canal opened in 1839, joining the Biebrza and Niemno rivers, which cut into it. There are 14 locks on its Polish side, and 9 of them from the 19th century in working condition. Kayaking through them is an unforgettable adventure.

The central part of the region is bisected by two rivers surrounded by swamps: the Biebrza River (the refuge of 271 bird species, including the endangered Acrocephalus paludicola and Philomachus pugnax, is an internationally recognised treasure) and the Narew (one of the two plaited rivers in the world). Polish Catholics, the Orthodox Church with Belarusian origins and the descendants of Tatars live together in the villages lost in the Knyszynski Forest. The crosses of churches, domes of Orthodox churches and half moons of mosques can be seen on the roofs of their wooden houses.

Bialystok with 300 thousand inhabitants is the biggest town in the region and its capital. Once a private town of the aristocratic Branicki family and a textile centre here you will find a beautiful palace complex and the labourer’s wooden houses.

The most important Polish Orthodox sanctuary – the St Grabarka Mountain covered with a forest of crosses – is located in the south of the Podlaskie Voivodship. Of great importance and very popular in this Voivodship is the Bialowieska Forest, the last natural lowland forest in Europe.

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