Masurian Lake District
?niardwy, the largest lake in Poland, with Paj?cza and Czarci Ostrów Islands
Location of Masurian Lake District in Poland
|o Total||52,000 km2 (20,000 sq mi)|
The Masurian Lake District or Masurian Lakeland (Polish: Pojezierze Mazurskie; German: Masurische Seenplatte) is a lake district in northeastern Poland within the geographical region of Masuria, in the past inhabited by Masurians who spoke the Masurian dialect. It contains more than 2,000 lakes. The district had been elected as one of the 28 finalists of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
The Lakeland extends roughly 290 km (180 mi) eastwards from the lower Vistula to the Poland-Russia border, and occupies an area of roughly 52,000 square kilometres (20,000 sq mi). Administratively, the Lake District lies within the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. Small parts of the district lie within the Masovian and Podlaskie Voivodeships.
The lakes are well connected by rivers and canals, forming an extensive system of waterways. The 18th-century Masurian Canal links this system to the Baltic Sea. The whole area is a prime tourist destination, frequented by boating enthusiasts, canoeists, anglers, hikers, bikers and nature-lovers. It is one of the most famous lake districts in Central Europe and a popular vacation spot, with the highest number of visitors every year.
From the 13th century on, the Lakeland was successively part of the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights, the Duchy of Prussia, and the Prussian province of East Prussia. In modern times, while part of the German Empire, it was the location of the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes (1914) and the Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes (1915) during World War I. At the end of World War II (1945), following the decision taken at the Potsdam Agreement, all national borders were redrawn, the area annexed by Communist Poland and its German residents expelled.
Mother tongue of the inhabitants of Masuria, by county, during the first half of the 19th century:
|County (German name)||Year||Polish-speakers||%||German-speakers||%||Lithuanian-speakers||%||Total population|
The Masurian Lakeland can be reached by train, bus or car. The nearest international airports are in Szymany, Warsaw, Gda?sk and Vilnius. The main transport hubs in the region are the towns of Olsztyn and E?k. There are trains to Masuria from Warsaw, Gda?sk and Vilnius, and buses from many Polish cities. A boat service connects some central towns in the region. Biking and boating are popular ways to get around.
Hotels can be found in close proximity to the Great Masurian Lakes, in the towns of Gi?ycko, Miko?ajki and E?k among others. There are also guesthouses and campsites in surrounding villages. The Masuren Waterway starts in W?gorzewo in the north and finishes in Pisz. This Waterway is new for pleasure boats. Only boats with a low waterdraft can go as far as Pisz on the Pisa.
Masuria is famous for its lakes and forests, offering a wide range of outdoor activities from sailing to kayaking and swimming. The region includes the largest lake in Poland, called ?niardwy. The resort towns include the most popular, Gi?ycko and Miko?ajki, W?gorzewo, Ryn, Pisz and I?awa. Gi?ycko is located on the shore of Lake Niegocin. It has an ancient fortress, historic church, bridges, and passenger boats to the towns of W?gorzewo, Miko?ajki and Ruciane-Nida. The town of Miko?ajki is a popular tourism center.
In addition to lakes, the Masurian region also has many rivers used for fly fishing, and forest areas that offer many trails for trekking and biking. There is also a variety of wildlife, edible berries and mushrooms, and large protected areas, including the Masurian Landscape Park that includes eleven nature reserves such as the ?uknajno Lake that is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, or the Bia?owie?a Forest, with a breeding station for European Bisons.
There are four separate boating trails set up along connecting lakes: from Gi?ycko to W?gorzewo and Ruciane-Nida, and from Miko?ajki to Pisz and Ryn. There are also two kayaking trails along rivers, the most popular being the Krutynia River Trail. On top of that, there are several color-marked walking trails with numerous points of interest for qualified tourism. They include:
Masuria has a temperate climate with cold winters and warm summers. The weather here is generally a bit cooler than in most parts of Poland, and the area usually experiences several snowfalls during the winter. The Masurian lakes are oftentimes frozen from December until the end of February. Springtime can be wet, while summers are generally drier.