Warmia-Masuria – updated 23 September 2022
Warmia-Masuria (Warminsko-Mazurskie) is the water sports capital of Poland, and it is dominated by the Great Masurian Lakes. Every year, thousands of kayakers, windsurfers and sailors arrive in the province to have fun on the water.
Land of a thousand lakes
Masuria and the Masurian Lake District are known in Polish as Kraina Tysiąca Jezior and in German as Land der Tausend Seen, meaning “land of a thousand lakes.” These lakes were ground out of the land by glaciers during the Pleistocene ice age, when ice covered north-eastern Europe. By 10,000 BC this ice started to melt. Great geological changes took place and even in the last 500 years the maps showing the lagoons and peninsulas on the Baltic Sea have greatly altered in appearance.
At 24,192 square kilometres, Warmia-Masuria is not the biggest region in Poland, but it sure has a lot to offer. Once you’ve explored the lakes, you can experience water of a different sort on one of the world’s most intriguing canals, the Elbląg–Ostróda; which runs 80.5 kilometres southward from Lake Drużno to the river Drwęca and lake Jeziorak. The canal uses a system of inclined planes between lakes to overcome a 100 m difference in water levels and is considered one of the most significant monuments related to the history of technology.
Warmia-Masuria also has countless rivers, swamps and wetlands to have fun in. The river Krutynia, which flows from Lake Warpuńskie into Lake Bełdany is a popular destination for kayakers and is considered to be one of the most picturesque waterways in Poland.
The province's name derives from two historic regions, Warmia and Masuria and its capital and largest city is Olsztyn.
Warmia-Masuria is home to Hitler’s wartime hideout, the Wolf’s Lair, one of Europe’s most significant WWII sites. There’s also Palaces, Gothic castles, Gothic churches and museums to explore.
One of the most-visited attractions in Warmia-Masuria is the Lidzbark Castle, which was the residence of bishops for hundreds of years. It was here that Nicolaus Copernicus sketched the first draft of his theory on the movement of the Earth.
The Wolf’s Lair in Gierłoż is well-worth a visit. Wolf’s Lair is the standard English name for Wolfsschanze, Adolf Hitler’s first World War II Eastern Front military headquarters, one of several Führerhauptquartier (Führer Headquarters) or FHQs located in various parts of Europe. Hitler first arrived at the Wolf’s Lair late on the night of 23 June 1941 and departed for the last time on 20 November 1944. Overall, he spent over 800 days there during that 3.5-year period.
The Germans blew up this enormous complex of 80 buildings and bunkers near the end of World War II, but some buildings remain. You can also see the remains of the conference barrack that was the scene of an unsuccessful attempt on Hitler’s life.
Other places that are worth visiting include: the pyramid in Rapa, which is the family mausoleum of the von Fahrenheid family and is loosely inspired by the architecture of ancient Egypt. The family members buried there were mummified.
The English version official website for Warmia and Masuria is actually quite good and is worth looking through for further information about the region – https://mazury.travel/en/