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Suwałki – a Serene Place

Postglacial landscape, full of tiny lakes, hills and dense forests – this is where Suwałki lies. It is often said that Suwałki region has this “fairy-tale kind of” beauty, and that each landscape is a ready-made postcard. The town is said to be the coldest spot in Poland. We prefer to call it “A Serene Place”, for cheerful spirit is always present here, and harsh climate favours human kindness. Just ask anybody who has visited this land.

Suwałki is to be found in Poland’s northeastern corner, close to Belarusian, Lithuanian and Russian border; population: 69,000.

Suwałki is proud of neoclassical buildings along the Kościuszki St., which is being renovated in great detail these days. Most of historic, architectural highlights are located along this street: writer Maria Konopnicka’s house, Nobel prize winner Czesław Miłosz’s family house, painter Alfred Wierusz Kowalski’s house, as well as three churches: Catholic, evangelical and an old Orthodox church (now serving the Catholics).

Kościuszki Street is neighboured from both sides by two newly renovated areas: Konstytucji 3. Maja park, and Maria Konopnicka Square, connected by Chłodna street. “Suwalskie Ścieżki Kulturowe” [Cultural Routes of Suwałki] are the best in terms of looking for historical events. It is also a most amusing idea to walk around the city’s interesting sites, following the “Krasnoludki są na świecie” [Gnomes Do Exist] route, inspired by Maria Konopnicka’s “Little Orphan Mary and the Gnomes” novel. This walk takes about two to three hours.

In this “Serene Place”, the past becomes present without us even noticing it. In recent years, thanks to European funds, Suwałki welcomed a number of modern construction investments; investments any large metropolitan area in the world would be proud of: a modern Suwałki Culture Centre with an events’ hall for 700 spectators; a waterpark; a football stadium with an under-soil heating; a Park for Science and Technology Poland-East; and Maria Konopnicka Square. European funds have been well used by hotel owners too: therefore, there is no shortage of bed places. Also, tourists are more than welcome to take full advantage of a modern campsite, situated right next to Arkadia lagoon.

Suwałki Blues Festival headlines summertime in Suwałki since 2008. It is a must for all music fans. World’s best blues musicians perform on two open-air stages and in a number of clubs in the city. Jan Chojnacki, a well-known radio journalist, opened one of the past editions of the festival by saying that “Suwałki is the European capital of blues music”. Many music fans share this view and praise not only the line-up, but also perfect logistics. The 2014 edition will be held 10-12 July, featuring the following headliners: GINGER BAKER JAZZ CONFUSION (UK/USA), VANILLA FUDGE (USA), THE CHRIS DUARTE GROUP (UK/USA) – the only concert in Poland, Nikki Hill (USA), Earl Thomas & The Royal Guard (USA/UK), and Rob Tognoni Band (AU/PL).

Suwałki region offers a range of attractions for tourists, too. Precious sightseeing and natural areas are to be found in Suwałki’s surroundings, i.e. old monasteries, ruined palaces and castles, precious wooden construction objects, religious monuments, and a number of lakes, rivers, forests – including primeval forests: Puszcza Augustowska, Puszcza Romnicka and Puszcza Borecka. Wigry Natural Park and Suwałki Landscape Park are just around the corner, which means that Suwałki is a perfect starting point to begin trips headed to all beautiful corners of the region of Suwałki and Eastern Masuria.

The region of Suwałki is attractive both as a weekend trip destination, and for any longer stay. In summer you can either go for a kayaking trip down the Czarna Hańcza River, embark on a sailboat on the lake Wigry, or cycle along Suwałki region’s cycle trails. Also, it is a must to climb the lookout tower of the old Camaldolese monastery in Wigry and visit the vantage point in Smolniki. The latter location inspired a world-renowned film director Andrzej Wajda, born in Suwałki, who later decided to make “Pan Tadeusz: The Last Foray in Lithuania” film in Smolniki.

A faithful group of fans praises regional cuisine. It is more than recommended to try kartacze (cepelinai), babka ziemniaczana (potato pie) and sękacz, a traditional cake.

Feel invited to the Serene Place: Suwałki. Feel invited to our very own centre of the universe.