The Kujawsko-Pomorskie region is unique in Poland inasmuch as it is said to provide a double serving of natural, architectural and cultural delights. As the name indicates, it is two in one; it unites two distinctive historical and geographical areas, located on either side of the Vistula, the longest river in Poland. Thus everything is double, from the name of the province, via its regional capitals, to its cultural monuments and attractions of nature.
The influences on the landscape of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie region have been twofold and it owes its form to the particular role played by two religious orders; the Teutonic Knights and the Mennonites, those mysterious and industrious emigrants. They were masters of hydraulic engineering and for more than two centuries they built anti-flood embankments, ditches, locks, bridges and causeways, as well as windmills and Lutheran churches. Even today, the remains of their buildings, structures and cemeteries are preserved along the Vistula Valley in the region.
The historical buildings of brick in which the region abounds are rather more the fruit of the labours of the Teutonic Knights. Their mighty castles and churches tower over many a small town, endowing them with a unique mediaeval atmosphere. Toruń and the lands around Chełm are particularly rich in sites of this kind, while one superbly preserved example of this architecture is the monumental castle in Golub-Dobrzyń.
When writing of Kujawsko-Pomorskie, there is no way that the twinned natural phenomenon created by a pair of rivers, the Brda and the Wda, can be omitted. At no great distance apart, they flow serenely onward through the picturesque surroundings of the Bory Tucholskie (Tucholskie Coniferous Forest) in the eastern part of the region, with the Brda carving out enchanting meanders and escarpments along its way.
Bydgoszcz and Toruń are the region’s two foremost cities. Located close to one another, they form a dual regional capital. Bydgoszcz is not only distinctive for its numerous parks, swathes of green and picturesque bridges leading over the Brda River to Mill Island (Wyspa Młyńska) and the quarter known as the Venice of Bydgoszcz. It is also a dynamically developing, thoroughly modern, industrial city. It is home to the region’s largest conference centre, which is located in the Nova Opera House, and it hosts the annual CAMERIMAGE International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography.
Toruń is a prestigious university city and a centre of Gothic architecture. Its historical sites and remarkable Old Town, with its fourteenth century Town Hall, town houses and the remaining sections of its ancient walls, proved reason enough for it to be entered onto the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Then there is Biskupin, the archaeological site of an Iron Age fortified settlement and an open-air museum containing a reconstruction. Not to mention the spa town of Ciechocinek, which is home to a quite remarkable structure, the largest saline graduation tower in Europe. That, together with the town’s four parks, countless carpets of flowers and charming little cafés, all go to make up a wholly unique atmosphere.