Bydgoszcz is a city of nearly 400,000 inhabitants which has, for over seven centuries, growing harmoniously alongside the banks of the Rivers Brda and Vistula, drawn its wisdom and strength from the resources of the spiritual and material heritage of three geographic and historic regions, Greater Poland, Pomerania and Kujawy. Bydgoszcz is the capital of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Province and it is also the largest city in the Kujawy region.
Bydgoszcz, the eighth-largest city in Poland, is situated in a forest clearing. If that was not enough, Bydgoszcz boasts the largest urban park in Poland and Bydgoszcz’s Old Town, Mlynska Island and the Bydgoszcz Canal are unique in the world.
The city’s showcases are the granaries along the River Brda and the figure the Lady Archer, a picture of beauty, from 1910. The amount of historic architecture in Bydgoszcz is quite modest. Three fragments of walls from the fifteenth century have been preserved in Bydgoszcz as well as a small cylindrical tower with a severely distorted upper section and a small gate leading to an arcaded wall. Also only three Gothic churches have survived as well as several buildings and houses from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Bydgoszcz flourished between 1850 and 1914 during a period of “belle époque”. Looking from the Staromiejski Bridge at Bydgoszcz, we can see rivers, canals, boulevards, piers, weirs and the beautiful Lady Archer. Bydgoszcz has the appearance of a Dutch city with Venetian architecture on canals. The city stands on water. Multi-storied barns and Dutch granary on Grodzka Street, and the White Granary on Mennica Street are today the headquarters of the Regional Museum. www.muzeum.bydgoszcz.pl
The Old Town, beautifully silhouetted the across from Mlynska Island, has been called Bydgoszcz’s Amsterdam. Homes and buildings, granaries and the walls seem to rise directly out of the water and evoke associations with Venice. The seductive draw of walking among the brick buildings of the former port in Bydgoszcz arouses our imagination. Are we still in Bydgoszcz or maybe now in Amsterdam or even Venice?
The River Brda and the Bydgoszcz are the living room if the city. An incredible atmosphere created by Bydgoszcz’s bars, cafes and shops. Picturesque nooks and crannies are strewn along the river. Barges that have been converted into homes can best be admired from a moving water tram. Walking along Bydgoszcz’s August Cieszkowski Street it is possible to feel the enchanting power of history. The luxurious houses on this atmospheric street boast of their "dancing" lines and finesse of decoration. The residential houses in Bydgoszcz’s Sielanka Estate are modelled on the idea of a garden city. Built in 1910, the estate is an oasis in the centre of a beautiful city. Today Sielanka is reminiscent of an Italian garden, with a central square and a circular flowerbed adorned with the colours of the seasons.
The obligatory religious monuments are two churches. The first is the church of Saints Nicholas and Martin from the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, with an image of Our Lady with a Rose. Its Baroque decoration, font, Rococo style stalls and numerous epitaphs enhance the image of the church. The second diamond of sacred architecture in Bydgoszcz is the Vincent de Paul Church that can accommodate 12,000 worshipers at any one time. It is worth looking at the front of the church designed by Professor Wiktor Zin.
Pan Twardowski, the famous magician, practiced in Bydgoszcz in 1560 and managed to rejuvenate the, already advanced in years, wife of the mayor. In memory of this achievement, a figure of Pan Twardowski bows to passers-by from a building on the Old Market Square. Twardowski, the work of sculptor Jerzy Kedziora, takes his bow each day 13 minutes past 13.00 and also 13 minutes past 21.00. Bydgoszcz is very fond of the work of Jerzy Kedziora, his work of the “Crosser of the River” was hung over the Brda River on the day Poland entered the European Union.
The monument of the Lady Archer stands in Kochanowski Park, designed by Berlin artist Professor Ferdinand Lepcke. The Lady Archer is one of the oldest and most valuable sculptures in Bydgoszcz. The Lady Archer does not wear a dress, which caused a problem, especially in the 1830’s. Therefore, on this feast of Corpus Christi, The Lady Archer... was dressed.
Between 1904 and 1943 Bydgoszcz was adorned by the beautiful Potop Fountain. This monument, which was one of the tourist attractions of Bydgoszcz, presented the biblical flood at the moment when animals and people were dying that could not find refuge in the ark. The whole sculpture and fountain was made up of three separate parts and the sculpture adorned fountain till 7th January 1943 when the intricate work was melted down to make weaponry. Work is currently on-going on the reconstruction of the fountain. The best place to relax while sightseeing in Bydgoszcz is on a bench with Bydgoszcz’s Marian Rejewski, the person who de-ciphered the German Enigma machine.
In 1989, three women from Bydgoszcz emerged from their homes to reflect on their dinner menu and, to this day, the Three Graces, frozen in this beautiful monument, can be seen in Bydgoszcz on the Brda River.
Near the Graces is Lloyd's Palace, a historic building in the Dutch Mannerist style with a spire with weathervane which today is the headquarters of a bank but was the former offices of a shipping company. The Neo-Gothic pressure tower from 1900 with a distinctive gallery and conical roof adorns Dabrowski Hill. It was once part of the water supply network but today is a tourist attraction because of the wonderful view of the unfolding panorama of the city that can be seen from its summit. The Bydgoszcz Pharmacy Museum, the only one in Poland, is located in a working pharmacy. www.aptekapodlabedziem.pl
Fordon is a medieval town within Bydgoszcz with a spatial layout from the 15th century. The town has an old market square which is only 200 metres from the Vistula River and several monuments that include buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries. The charming panorama of the town of Fordon is made up of the towering structures of the Catholic, Protestant and Jewish places of worship. King Sigismund III Vasa’s customs house was located here in the 18th century.
Military enthusiasts will be delighted in Bydgoszcz. In the forests, on the grounds of the Zachem Chemical Plant, there are the remains of the mysterious buildings that formed the largest Nazi arsenal of explosives and ammunition, the DAG Fabrik Bromberg. The factory covered an area of about 23km². The “Exploseum” currently operates in the buildings that were once used for the production of nitro-glycerine. This is an open-air museum depicting industrial architecture of the Third Reich with the underground tourist route.
Bydgoszcz feeds our imagination. In Bydgoszcz, we can see the romantic tryst of Amsterdam