Bydgoszcz has been announced the European best destination in 2020. The capital of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship is the 8th biggest city in Poland and is situated at the Brda river. There’re several symbols that characterize the city and were connected to the trading history of it. Granaries and Mills are among them.
The best way is to get to know the city either by foot. Even though Bydgoszcz is pretty big, the main attractions are located within walking distance. Popular option also is to choose a cruise on the Brda river. The city’s been connected with water for centuries, so it’d be a natural choice. The solar-powered Water Tram called ” Słonecznik” has a regular schedule every day from May to September and boats sets off in three directions from the quay at Rybi Rynek, close to the Old Town Square.
MUSIC IN BYDGOSZCZ
For years, Bydgoszcz has been called a city of music. There is no exaggeration in this term. The city’s musical traditions date back to the 17th century, when the local Jesuit College was home to a theatre staging performances that included music and singing. Numerous choirs and musical bands continued this tradition further. They also wanted to keep the Polish language, when Poland was occupied by Germans. Their task was also to defend the Polish word in the city, a large part of which was German. A person who kept Bydgoszcz musical was Andrzej Szwalbe – director of the Philharmonic. It’s said that the Philharmonic in Bydgoszcz has one of the best acoustics in Poland, that’s why eminent musicians make recordings there, often expressing their admiration for the acoustics of the Bydgoszcz concert hall in interviews. It is also Bydgoszcz, which host some of the oldest music festivals in Poland: Bydgoszcz Music Festival, organized since 1963 and the unique Musica Antiqua Europae Orientalis – Festival of Early Music of the Countries of Central and Eastern Europe. It has been organized since 1966. It’s also the Bydgoszcz Opera Festival, which started in April 1994.
Let’s see what attractions the city offers.
MAN CROSSING THE RIVER
The sculpture is a symbol of celebration, when Poland entered into the European Union in 2004. The sculpture is suspended above the Brda river. The swallow beside him is a piece of symbolism in memory of the founder of the Pomeranian Philharmonic who was named Andrzej Szwalbe, similar to the German word for swallow, “Schwalbe”.
An unquestionable symbol of the city are the granaries of Bydgoszcz, located on the Brda River itself. For centuries, buildings of this type were erected to store grain and other agricultural produce, which was then floated down the Brda and Vistula to Gdańsk. Bydgoszcz’s port and river trade were the driving force behind the city’s development. The Second World War and subsequent fires caused major destruction. Only a few historic granaries, located in the very centre of the city, have remained to this day.
This is an absolute classic of Bydgoszcz and probably its most charming corner. It’s the green oasis in the heart of Bydgoszcz. The area of the island is delimited by the mainstream of the Brda River and the Brda Młynówka. The island is a green enclave with numerous monuments reminiscent of its industrial past – warehouses, granaries or mills – contrasting with new buildings such as the stylish Bydgoszcz Opera House, or the modern Przystań Wodna.
THE OPERA NOVA
The Opera Nova building is one of the most modern and beautiful in Poland. Situated on the Brda River itself, it is a cultural landmark of the city. The attendance rate at performances is one of the highest in Poland. The repertoire is dominated by the so-called “great repertoire”, which the audience loves the most, i.e. Verdi’s La Traviata and Nabucco, or Puccini’s Tosca, but there is also plenty of lesser-known performances.
THE ROTHERA MILLS
This huge complex of grain mills was built by the Prussian authorities in the 19th century, and the decision was influenced by the growing role of Bydgoszcz as a trading city at the crossroads of waterways: Bydgoszcz Canal, Brda and Vistula. The modern building was named after the Prussian minister of the time, Christian von Rother. The building, in various functions, also functioned in the Second Republic and the Polish People’s Republic, only to fall into disrepair in the 1990s. After much turbulence, the city bought the site, opening it as a cultural institution in 2021.
THE OLD MARKET SQUARE
The market square in Bydgoszcz is the centre of the city – laid out in 1346. It was here that the social life of the city was concentrated, a trade market operated. In the 19th century, many of the townhouses at the market were rebuilt, giving them more contemporary styles.
We were lucky to be in Bydgoszcz on Sunday, as this is the only day that farmer’s market takes place. It’s the fair with organic and regional products and handicrafts, held in the very centre of Bydgoszcz – at Gdańska 8 Street, on the square in front of the Bydgoszcz Financial Centre. Between 10am and 2pm.
MUSEUM OF SOAP AND THE HISTORY OF DIRT
The museum is a private initiative located in the Old Town in Bydgoszcz. It focuses on the subject of hygiene – from the past to the present, but does so in a decidedly light-hearted, entertaining and engaging way. Of course, the pretext for the story is the soap itself, and part of the visit is to make a souvenir soap in your favourite shape. Poles will remember the Kajtek, Olive or Bambino soaps, that are at the display of old soap brands.
This is an impressive masterpiece designed by Ferdynand Lepcke. It depicts a vision of the climactic moment of the biblical Flood, in which humans and animals face annihilation because there is no room for them on Noah’s Ark. It was completed in 1904, however it was destroyed by the Germans in 1943. In 2004, the painstaking process of rebuilding the fountain began, based on the design of the second surviving copy of the sculpture.
A real rarity is the Music Quarter, the only one of its kind in Poland. It is made up of three institutions: The Pomeranian Philharmonic, the Academy of Music and the A. Rubinstein Music School Complex. It’s often visited by locals, but also tourists. It’s filled by greenery, beautiful villas and the architecture in overall.
KIDS IN BYDGOSZCZ
Don’t forget to take your kids with you on a tour. Mill’s island and the greenery around it is a perfect place for a picnic. Besides that, there is a magical playground right next to it, where they can play all around. On the main square, in hot summer days kids can cool down a bit with a shower fountain. There’s also a music playground, but it’s a bit further from the center. And the attraction might be as well the dancing fountain – but it’s also remoted around 20 minutes by car from the center.
STAYING A NIGHT
It’s a good idea to stay a night, thanks to that you’ll get the chance to look inside the museums or the Opera. You can also plan your stay so that you can visit some of the surrounding cities like: Toruń or Solec Kujawski or just the nearby biggest park: Myślęcinek, with plenty of attractions for kids. We stayed a night in Bydgoszcz on our way back from the Baltic sea.