The Elbląg Canal

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Nature, History

Do you think that boats cannot be carried partly on land rails? If yes, check one particular place in Poland! It's the Ostróda-Elbląg canal and it's a genuine technical miracle from the 19th century.

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This unique water system combines the western Masurian lakes and the Vistula Lagoon (Zalew Wiślany). This canal is 82 km long but the whole length of the water system (together with side branches, rivers and lakes( equals 147 km.


The Elbląg canal was built in the late 19th century. The aim was to create a water link with the Baltic Sea and to transport grains and timber from Mazury to Elbląg and other Baltic harbours. The biggest obstacle while constructing this canal were huge differences in ground levels (up to 99 meters) from the beginning to the end of the canal. Engineer Georg Jakob Steenke used five inclined planes. They made it possible to place a boat on a carriage, which in turn levels the boat up thanks to running water force. As a result, the boat may be transported from one place to the other.

If you lack technical sense, just a take a look on a film below. It explains all the confusion quite easily:

Breathtaking, isn't it?

Unfortunately, just a couple of years after starting the canal service, a local railroad started to build up. The canal had to face a strong opponent. The amount of canal-transported goods diminished every year and there was a likely possibility of closing it down. That didin't happen, luckily.


Therefore, this unique invention is still in operation and offers you a chance to travel on nine different water roads. They are all very picturesque, being surrounded by Warmia's nature and gothic sightseeing spots along canal's route.

How do you get to the Elbląg Canal? It's as easy as pie: take the plane to Gdańsk or Warsaw 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 lakeland. Don't forget to take care of your travel insurance!

Region: Warmińsko-Mazurskie.

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