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The Warsaw Voice » Business » June 3, 2009
Giżycko - the Capital of the Great Mazurian Lake District
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Treasures of Nature, Secrets of Lakes
June 3, 2009   
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Located on an isthmus between Lake Kisajno and Lake Niegocin, Giżycko is one of the most popular tourist destinations in northeastern Poland and a mecca for water sports enthusiasts. The city is a busy tourist center and a favorite meeting place for sailors. It brims with life and is always full of music. The city is a paradise for those who prefer active forms of relaxation on lakes amid scenic landscapes.

In Giżycko, you can take part in numerous regatta races. The city and its surroundings offer great cycling, horseback riding and hiking sites. Giżycko provides a wide range of accommodation for tourists and food-service facilities with many tastes and flavors, including Mazurian cuisine. Cultural attractions, sports opportunities and natural wonders abound.

The Mazurian lakeland's special attractions for lovers of sailing and adventure include mysterious isles and underwater treasures. The northern part of Lake Mamry holds the wreck of a boat called Arabella. It was once used as a tugboat and later served as a sailboat. Today the Arabella is an underwater museum after it was scuppered in the waters of Lake Mamry to offer a thrilling experience for divers.

The Gilma Island on Lake Dobskie treasures the Sacred Grove, a magic place that was once dedicated to pagan deities and forces of nature. In ancient times, the island was home to the Galind tribe. The last Galind leader defended the stronghold until the end against the Teutonic Knights. Today the site holds the remains of a 13th-century Prussian town and the ruins of a castle and stone stairs.

The Cormorant Island on Lake Dobskie is a nature reserve and the habitat of birds including cormorants and gray herons.

When in Giżycko, do not miss Pionierska Street. It dates back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries and features a wing of a 14th-century castle that was once occupied by the Teutonic Knights. Other attractions in the area include an Evangelical church that hosts an annual international festival of organ and chamber music.

Tourist sites in Giżycko also include a swing bridge from 1860 on the Łuczański Canal (also called Giżycki Canal), one of Europe's only two bridges of this kind and the only one that is operational to this day. The towering Wieża Ci¶nień (Water Tower), dates back to the end of the 19th century and holds a museum and a cafe. It is one of Giżycko's most interesting historical monuments and the best observation point in town.

But the 19th-century Boyen Fortress is the greatest tourist attraction of Giżycko. The fortress, which was never conquered, has an irregular hexagonal shape with a centrally located courtyard. Today the fortification is home to an entertainment center, a youth hostel and a gallery. The nearby St. Bruno's Hill, the favorite strolling area of Giżycko residents and tourists, commands a breathtaking view of the city.

The calendar of summer events in Giżycko includes:
- July 11: Mazurian Brass Band Parade
- July 11-12: St. Bruno's Fair
- July 17-18: Shanties in Giżycko Sailing and Maritime Song Festival
- July 17-26: Giżycko Sailing Week
- July 18-19: Boatshow Cup Regatta
- July 22: Giżycko Women's Regatta
- July 24: Mazurian Jazz Fiesta
- Aug. 13-16: International Polish Championships of Cabin Yachts
- Aug. 20-23: Polish Catamaran Championships
- Aug. 22: Open Day at Boyen Fortress

Giżycko Town Hall
14, 1 Maja Ave., 11-500 Giżycko, tel. +48-87 732-41-11; urzad@gizycko.pl, www.gizycko.pl
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