Elblag and its neighbourhood

Elbląg, a city situated in Warmińsko- Mazurskie Province. It has about 127 thousand citizens and is second biggest city in the province in terms of people. The surface of the city amounts to 80 km2. Elbląg is a symbol of good quality, Polish and European people associate it with Elblag Channel and ramps, with Old Town, tourism, culture. The history of the city dates back to 1237, and in 1246 Elblag received city rights.

In Elbląg you can spend your time in an active way, making use of the facilities it offers. Active rest in a City Park called Bażantarnia- Elblag Highland, city swimming pool, ice-rink, skiing, cruise down the Elbląg Channel - ramps, visiting Old Town, Museum, and in the evening participation in concerts in the city centre.

Market Gate- one of the most important city monuments. It was built in 14th century as a part of the city fortification system. In July 2006, after modernisation co-financed by European Union, it was made available for Elbląg people and tourists for the first time after war. This gate is a particular and favourite monument for Elblag people. It has become a symbol of defending the city against Teutonic Knights. There is a famous story connected with Market Gate, telling about a heroic small Baker, whose sculpture has been standing close to the Market Gate since September 2006. Today Elblag people and tourists believe that scratching the nose of a bronze boy will bring them good luck.

Elblag Old Town- with historical urban system, ruins of the castle, monastery and hospital complex, with Church Path characteristic for Elblag, with complex of reconstructed tenement houses; it is a place worth visiting for every tourist. As result of II World War, the Old Town, which resembled Old Town of Gdańsk, was in 65 percent destroyed. The works connected with reconstruction of the Old Town have been carried out for over ten years. Tenement houses are constructed in old, pre-war style. The area of the Old Town is a paradise for the explorers of the past and architects. Things or their parts excavated by archeologists are transported to Elbląg museum. Plenty of cafés, pubs and pizzerias wait for the tourists in the Old Town.

EL Gallery- centre of modern art, situated in after-dominican Saint Mary’s 13th century church. There are ledgers with epitaphs that remind about noblemen and merchants, city patricians or priests. EL Gallery is known for interesting actions. It was made famous by the first in the world Three-Dimensional Forms Exhibition that took place in 1965. Long list of world-known authors that have participated in that event since then makes it even more reputable.

Elbląg Museum- is situated in the building of the former Elblag Middle School. On its courtyard there is a gothic column – unique remnant of Teutonic Castle, which was destroyed by Elblag citizens in 1454. In the museum you can learn about history of Elbląg, see many things connected with everyday life of its former citizens coming from excavations in the Old Town and from the area of a legendary settlement called Truso, as well as military objects, old documents, furniture and coins.

St.Nicholas Cathedral in Elbląg- the church dates back to the middle of 13th century. It was constructed in the centre of the Old Town and was rebuilt many times within centuries. It became a cathedral in the moment of creating Elbląg Diocese. Its most precious collections are: gothic bronze baptismal font from 1387 created by master Bernhauser, wooden figures of apostles, big gothic St. Nicholas sculpture, Three Kings altar.

Elbląg is a city of concerts, music festivals (Is it love, Elblag Nights of Theater and Poetry), ball dance tournaments (Baltic Cup, Championships of Poland in Standard Formations 1999 and 2009, World Championships in Standard Formations 1999 and 2010), sport events and Bread Feast organized periodically from 2006 in front of Market Gate.

Elbląg neighbourhood is a typical mixture: from one side Elbląg Highland, from the other side Vistula Marshland, depression - Raczki Elbląskie, the lowest point in Poland 1,8 m below sea level. From Elbląg within 45 minutes you can get into Vistula Spit – Baltic See, and within one hour to Tricity.

Elbląg Channel- ramps: One of the biggest tourist attractions of Elbląg neighbourhood is Elbląg Channel (Der Oberländische Kanal – old name). This marvelous monument – which has both technical and landscape values – is also known as Ostróda-Elbląg Channel (Elbląg-Ostróda).

The proper Elbląg Channel – joining Druzno Lake with Szeląg Lake- has total length of 83,3 km, therein 43,82 km constitutes artificial channel, and 39,48 km are lakes. Along with branches, the length of total water way is 144,3 km. Its significant part goes through exceptionally charming neighbourhood. The greatest attraction of one of two types of this kind of water ways in the world are 5 ramps, owing to which the ship goes for about 2 km over dry land, and which should go over big difference of water level amounting to about 100 meters over the area of 9,6 km. In the world there are only two channels built, in which the system of ramps is used. Elblag Channel is a unique one in the world, because the second similar water way – Morisse’s Channel (New Jersey, USA) has not been used for a long time. Another feature worth emphasizing is the fact that the builder of Elbląg Channel – eng. Steenke, used original technical solutions, other than those known from Morrisse’s Channel. Owing to its unique hydrotechnical appliances. The Channel was named in 1978 as material culture monument subject to stricte legal protection.

The fourth ramp from Elblag is called Kąty. The level difference is about 18 m here, and its Total length is 404 m (at height difference of 18,88 m). The ship must go so many meters over dry land pulled with lines on the rails.

At the turn of 18th and 19th century the courts of Fryderyk I and Fryderyk II thought about possibility of water connection for trade purposes between Eastern Prussia and Baltic Sea. The idea of creating the channel that would be a convenient communication and trade connection of areas situated at the lakes (on the land) with the Baltic Sea, had been made much earlier. It should be remembered that these areas from the time of 2nd peace in Toruń until the end of 18th century were situated on the area of so called Prince Prussia as the fief of the Republic of Poland. There was no investor that time however. Divisions of the Republic of Poland caused that these areas were owned by Prussia.

The history of Elblag Channel dates back to 1825 when Elblag deputees to Landtag of Prussian Province raised the issue of constructing the channel on the way from the Jeziorak lake to Druzno lake. They pointed to great economic benefits of this investment.

It is without discussion that decision about constructing the channel, that was made not earlier than in 1837, was connected with big costs of constructing the channel and was due to the fact that Prussian state found it necessary to create this way considering indubitable economic benefits. About 1837-1840 there was an audience held by the Prussian king Fryderyk Wilhelm III (ruling between 1797 and 1840). It was a meeting with technical and economic profile. George Jacob Steenke participated in it as a clerk. Finally the king was persuaded by the president of Prussian Province von Schön, minister of the kingdom von Heydt, clerks of the Land Management of Prussian Province from Królewiec, as well as designers- therein G. J. Steenke.

Going on a trip over Elbląg Channel you should not forget about binocular and camera. The area is very attractive not only because of unique technical values of the Channel, but also they are famous for nature values, and Drużno Lake which is part of the water way is thought to be one of the biggest bases of water birds nests in Poland. There are about 200 species of birds here, and the birdmen come to watch them from all over Europe.

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