One of the most popular trails leading to places associated with the Piast dynasty and the rise of Polish statehood winds its way through Wielkopolska and Kujavia. There are other types of facilities along the way that enhance its tourist appeal, e.g. Żnin County Railways and the recently opened Dinosaur Park in Rogów.
The trail and upsurge of interest in the Piasts came out of the Millennium of the Polish State celebrations. Renewed interest in the trail has been observed over recent years. This has been influenced by the millennial celebrations of the Congress of Gniezno and by holding the Second Congress of Gniezno.
The Piast Trail has an “inverted figure eight” route with Gniezno at its centre. One or two days is not enough for all there is to see and do along the trail. For this reason, there are popular excursions along part of it, leaving from Poznań and taking in Gniezno, Biskupin, Kruszwica, Strzelno and Mogilno. The southern part of the trail, which runs through Giecz, Grzybowo, Czerniejewo and Września, is decidedly less popular.
This route begins at Gniezno which, along with Poznań, is the place most closely associated with the development of the Polish state. It then goes through Rogowo with its recently opened Dinosaur Park and Gąsawa with its unique wooden church and extraordinary polychrome. Next comes the highlight of any trip along the Piast Trail. Biskupin and its archaeological reserve recreates life in a Lusation Culture settlement. A few kilometres further on is Wenecja with the ruins of the “Devil of Wenecja” castle and the Narrow Gauge Rail Museum, which also happens to be the last station of the Żnin County Railway. The road now leads to Żnin, whose town hall tower is featured on virtually every Piast Trail postcard. Next stop Lubostroń with its classicist Skórzewski Palace and, a little further on, Pakość with Pakość Calvary, modelled on Zebrzydów Calvary. Inowrocław has its Romanesque church but its main tourist attraction would have to be the Aqua Salt Park with its graduation towers. The next major stop along the Piast Trail is the Mouse Tower of Kruszwica, which is inextricably linked with the legend of the cruel Popiel, who was eaten by mice. A boat cruise on Lake Gopło is a common addition to these excursions as well as a chance to take some time out. Stopping at St. Wojciech’s Hill in Strzelno and soaking up the Romanesque art is a must. The small St. Prokop Church is right next door to the former Premonstratensian complex with its famous columns covered with Romanesque sculptures. Mogilno, and the former Benedictine abbey with its Romanesque crypts, is a little further on. Before returning to Gniezno, it is well worth your while stopping on Wał Wydartowski near Duszno and taking in the beautiful panorama of the Gniezno Lakeland.
The small loop
also begins in Gniezno but heads off in the opposite direction. The first stop is Ostrów Lednicki with the Museum of the First Piasts and the ferry to the island of the palatinate of Mieszko I. Further on, the Wielkopolska Ethnographic Museum in Dziekanowice is a treat for folk culture enthusiasts. There is a 19th-century Wielkopolska village with a church, tavern, cemetery, windmills and even a nearby manor house. The famous Fish Gate where youth assemble for Lednica2000 is on the other side of the lake. Before heading off for Poznań, it is worthwhile spending some time in the Skansen Miniatur (Miniature Open-air Museum) in Pobiedziska, which has scaled-down replicas of the most important Piast Trail monuments and historical buildings.At last, we arrive in Poznań, where Poland began. Here, we can find the cathedral with the tombs of the first rulers and the renaissance town hall. It is best to stand here at noon to observe the butting billy goats and explore the old town complex. Further on is Giecz via Uzarzewo with its Hunting Museum. This has another small Romanesque church and the foundations of another Romanesque building that was never completed. The road through Września, where the heroic strike (1901-1902) for classes to be taught in Polish took place, takes us to Grzybowo. It is best to come here in August when the International Congress of Slavic Conferences is held on the grounds of a medieval grad. We finally make our way back to Gniezno via Czerniejewo.
The places mentioned here are only the most important points along the Piast Trail. There is a whole lot more to see, the best of which have been awarded PTTK’s Poznaj Szlak Piastowski (Learn the Piast Trail) Touring Insignia.
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