Poland's little Holland - Żuławy

  • Picture: Bogdan Groth | <a href="https://gnu.org/licenses/fdl.html">GFDL</a>Picture: Bogdan Groth | GFDL
  • Picture: Bogdan Groth | <a href="https://gnu.org/licenses/fdl.html">GFDL</a>Picture: Bogdan Groth | GFDL
  • Picture: Bogdan Groth | <a href="https://gnu.org/licenses/fdl.html">GFDL</a>Picture: Bogdan Groth | GFDL

South-West of Gdańsk one can find a really unique place - Żuławy. Thanks to its historical legacy and landscape it's known as Poland's little Holland. Why? Read more to find out!

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Wisła is Poland's longest and most important river. It is 1047 kilometers long and it goes through Poland's most important cities: Cracow, Warsaw, Toruń and discharges itself East of Gdańsk. The area in the Wisła estuary used to be a boggy place. In the 16th century Dutch people started settling down here and turning the whole place into a fertile agricultural area. Why Dutch people and why Poland? The answer is simple: for a very long time Poland was considered to be the most tolerant country in Europe – nobody was persecuted because of their ethnicity or religion. In 1539 Menno Simmons founded a protestant-anabaptistic church in the Netherlands. The Mennonites, as they soon started being called, supported pacifism and religious independence – that caused their persecutions in western Europe. As their lives were threatened they decided to flee to a much safer Poland.

When they arrived, they settled down in the Żuławy area and started drainage works (the Dutch have always been experts on boggy areas) – they built an entire network of ditches and became farmers.

zulawy-w-1.jpgPicture: Bogdan Groth | GFDL

Nowadays there are very few traces of the Mennonites. The most obvious ones are huge wooden houses with pillars on the façade. Only rich farmers could build such houses and the number of pillars indicated one’s social status: the more pillars, the more farming areas the owner possessed. Most of the houses were communalized during the communist era and they are now inhabited by many different families – there is not too much left from the old design. The noticeable exception is the house in the village of Trutnowy, the (only) owner of which founded a mini-museum where everyone is welcome.

Furthermore, the Mennonites were known for their fanciful gravestones decorated with gingerbread work. The best-preserved Mennonite cemetery is located in the village of Stogi Malborskie.

zulawy-w-3.jpgPicture: Bogdan Groth | GFDL

You should not forget about the ill-famed concentration camp Stutthof located in the northern part of Żuławy…

stutthof_w_1.jpgPicture: Martin Poljak | GFDL

The whole area looks almost just like the Netherlands – the surface is flat, there are no hills and no woods … that’s why it’s called Poland’s little Holland.

zulawy-w-2.jpgPicture: Bogdan Groth | GFDL

How do you get to the Region of Żuławy? It's as easy as pie: take the plane to Gdańsk and rent a car at the airport. You can, of course, take your own car and travel with the ferry to the continent. Book accommodation directly in the nearby city of Gdańsk. Don't forget to take care of your travel insurance!

Region: Pomorze.

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