10 things you should know about Warmia and Masuria
You probably know a lot about Warmia and Masuria. However, we will try to present you 10 interesting facts about this region that are not so obvious.
Where do the names Mazury and Warmia come from?
The etymology of the name Mazury is quite surprising. Well, the noun “mazur” comes from the prefix “maz-” (“smolić” – [Eng: smoke] originally the word “maź” meant tar), and the suffix “-ur”. The word “mazur” was a term applied to pitch burners living in forest areas in the region and this is them where the name of the land comes from.
Initially, the name Warmia was used only for the areas located on the Vistula Lagoon, inhabited by the Prussian tribe of Warmia. The origin of the name is uncertain. Usually it is derived from the Prussian word “wormyan” that means red colour and is related to the word “worm”. So the name Warmia most probably means “red land”.
Fot. Museum of Folk Architecture – Ethnographic Park in Olsztynek. School from the village of Pawłowo.
Where is the border between Warmia and Masuria?
Setting the current boundary between Warmia and Masuria is difficult even for the inhabitants of the region, although for hundreds of years it has been a border between two countries. The easiest way to define the historical area of Warmia is to refer to other historical lands around it, i.e. Upper Prussia from the west (most of the border is the Pasłęka River), Masuria from the south and east, and Lower Prussia from the north. The towns located in Warmia are: Braniewo, Frombork, Orneta, Pieniężno, Lidzbark Warmiński, Dobre Miasto, Barczewo, Jeziorany, Bisztynek, Biskupiec, Reszel and the capital of the voivodeship – Olsztyn.
How many lakes are there in the Land of a Thousand Lakes?
Thousand lakes. This phrase; however, is quite an understatement. In Masuria there are about 2,600 lakes. If we add lakes in Warmia and other areas of the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship to this, it turns out that there are nearly 3,000 lakes! The region is home to the largest lake in Poland, Śniardwy, with an area of 113.8 square kilometers. Here we can also find the longest lake in the country, Jeziorak, which is 27.45 km long.
When you are in the region, can you be on the border of three countries at the same time?
It turns out you can. In the northernmost point of the region, the borders of three countries converge: Poland, Lithuania and Russia, as well as the borders of the Warmian-Masurian and Podlaskie voivodeships.
Can you meet bisons and wild horses living here at large?
There is a European Bison Breeding Centre in the Borecka Forest in Masuria. Initially, the animals used to live in pens, only after they escaped into the forest, it was decided that they should be kept in the wild, in their natural habitat. In such conditions, they can now be observed from the viewing platforms available in the centre. The second place in the region where bisons live in the wild has been (since 2021) the Romincka Forest. On the other hand, on the Popieliński Peninsula, four herds of Polish horses live in natural conditions.
Can you live here in a gothic castle?
You can, and you don’t have to go back in time. Many Gothic castles have been preserved in the region. They were built both by the Teutonic Order as well as bishops and cathedral chapters. Nowadays, museums and other cultural institutions operate in most of the strongholds. But there are also some strongholds that fully or partially make their rooms available to tourists. We can stay for the night in castles in: Ryn, Lidzbark Warmiński (outer bailey), Nidzica, Reszel, Giżycko. Some of the old buildings are largely original, but most of them have been rebuilt or renovated. Several strongholds in the region lie on the Gothic Castles Trail, which also runs through the Pomeranian and Kuyavian-Pomeranian voivodeships.
What is the most famous person related to Warmia and Masuria?
It is an outstanding astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus, who has lived and worked in Warmia for nearly 40 years. In order to follow in his footsteps, you should go on a trip along the Copernicus Trail. The road version of the trail is nearly 300 km long and leads through towns associated with the life and activity of the great scientist. The trail has been marked with the symbol of an astrolabe.
How many kilometers does the longest cycling route of Warmia and Masuria have?
The Green Velo East of Poland Cycling Trail is the longest and one of the most picturesque cycling routes in Poland. The Warmian-Masurian section of the trail is 397 km long and it can be used to travel from town to town, visiting the interesting and rich in attractions areas of both lands along the way.
Can you find traces of World War II in Warmia and Masuria?
The region is full of fortifications and defense lines from World War II scattered throughout the forests. In order to see the remains of the secret war headquarters of the leader of the Third Reich called the Wolf’s Lair, you must go to Gierłoż near Kętrzyn. On the other hand, in Mamerki, near Węgorzewo, you can visit well-preserved, huge bunkers, the walls of which are even 7 meters thick. There is much more to visit here because the remains of the Second World War in Warmia and Masuria can be found in a lot of places.
Is it possible to ski here?
Warmia and Masuria region has a lot to offer for winter sports enthusiasts during winter holidays. Well-prepared slopes await them at the following resorts: Kurza Góra in Kurzętnik near Nowe Miasto Lubawskie, Piękna Góra near Gołdap, Okrągłe near Orzysz and Wydmin, Góra Czterech Wiatrów in Mrągowo, The Gołębiewski Hotel in Mikołajki, Kartasiówka in the village of Ruś near Olsztyn, Zielony Zakątek in Lubstynek near Lubawa. There are also various offers for cross-country skiing amateurs. So, as soon as winter comes, do not go to the mountains to go skiing but visit Warmia and Masuria!
Nature is the greatest wealth of the region, including large forest complexes that are remnants of old forests. Forests cover over 30% of the province's area. In order to protect the most valuable natural areas in the region, eight landscape parks and over 100 reserves have been created.Find out more