The interpenetration of cultures

Local dialect:

Aleksander Osipowicz’s reconstructed 19th-century Augustow dialect dictionary1 is an extraordinary source of knowledge about the dialect of the Suwałki, Augustow and Sejny regions. He reflects the mentality of people living in these ethnically and culturally mixed regions.

Over the centuries, the area in which the Augustow Canal is located administratively passed from hand to hand. Hence, apart from Polish, traces of Lithuanian, Belarusian, Ruthenian and Ukrainian languages are noticeable in the language.


Historically, the area of today’s Podlaskie Voivodeship was a typical borderland where Polish (Masovian), Ruthenian, Yotvingian and Teutonic influences, and later also Lithuanian, interpenetrated and clashed. Read more about the history of the region here.

We owe the rich history of the region to the very diverse flavours in the kitchen. You will find here dishes that are associated with the plates of our neighbours.

Beverages – with percentages and without 😊

A non-alcoholic beverage produced by fermenting wholemeal bread. Although it is the national drink of Ukrainians and Russians, there is no shortage of it in Podlasie. This is another example of the interpenetration of cultures and traditions in the region. The inhabitants praise, apart from their own, kvass from Lithuania, but Belarusian, however, has no equal.


Every real housewife could prepare an excellent tincture, which cured all possible diseases. For this reason, the recipes are passed down from generation to generation and are closely guarded secrets. Be sure to look for your favourite flavour.


Although Poles do not want to talk about it out loud as we do not want our guests to get drunk, Vodka has been our national drink known for centuries. Throughout history, it has probably caused as many problems as benefits. Be careful! Vodka is addictive, only adults are allowed to drink it!

Krynka mineral water

Spring water of exceptional purity, known to the inhabitants of Podlesie for centuries. According to local tradition, it cured Queen Jadwiga of stomach problems.


Traditional dishes – lick your fingers 😊
Kartacze – Podlasie potato dumplings

This unique delicacy with a slightly grey colour consists of raw potatoes and stuffing, usually beef and pork. It came to Poland from Lithuania, where it is known as cepelin. Its shape is a bit like an airship 😊 it’s a large, elongated dumpling with stuffing inside. Why is it so delicious? Because a pinch of love and bacon cracklings are added to each one. It entered the list of traditional products.

Potato cake

Another local delicacy originally came from Belarus. This highly caloric dish consists of potatoes and bacon. The rest of the ingredients are up to the cook. It can be meat, mushrooms or Lithuanian sausage – kindziuk.


It owes its name to the base on which it was cooked, i.e. fish stock and acid from pickled cucumbers. Over time, the recipe evolved; today the soup is made with meat. This dense and satisfying soup originating from the Russian countryside is also number one in Ukraine and Poland.


The finished dough is similar to a cut tree trunk, and there are legends about its origin. It does not change the fact that in Poland the best sękacz is prepared in Podlasie. Poles learned how to prepare a tree cake from the Yotvingians tribe.

The Augustow Canal is a breathtaking example of the wealth of nature. Surrounded by lush greenery and crystal-clear waters, it is a true wonder to behold.  There are four National Parks and the deepest lake in Poland in the area.

Bialowieza National Park

Created in 1921, it protects the best-preserved fragment of the Białowieża Forest (1/6 of the Polish part of the Forest) – the last natural forest in Europe’s lowlands, of primaeval nature, which stretched centuries ago in the zone of deciduous and mixed forests. It is characterized by high biodiversity. The park includes 809 species of vascular plants, over 3,000 species of spore plants and fungi with almost 200 species of mosses and 283 species of lichens. Over 8,000 species of invertebrates, about 120 species of breeding birds and 52 species of mammals have been found.

The Białowieża National Park is the first Polish natural site entered by UNESCO on the World Heritage List. It is also the most important – central zone of the Białowieża Biosphere Reserve.



Biebrza National Park

It was created in 1993 and it is the largest national park in Poland and one of the greatest in Europe. The purpose is to protect the vast peat bogs of the Biebrza Basin and a small fragment of the Sokólskie Hills. The most valuable assets are the wide valley of the Biebrza River with the largest complex of peat bogs in Poland called the Biebrza Marshes. The Biebrza National Park is also described by vast landscapes, ecosystems and habitats that have already been irretrievably destroyed elsewhere as a result of drainage swamps and fen.

The Biebrza Marshes are considered key refuges for water and marsh birds in the country and in Central Europe.



Narew National Park

It was created in 1996. The Park covers the swampy Valley of the Upper Narew in the section Suraż – Rzędziany. It is called the „Polish Amazonia” and is considered one of the last natural, regularly flooded river valleys in Europe.

The most significant natural value is the unique character of the river. Within its borders, the Narew flows through a number of channels, separating and connecting, forming an irregular, complicated network. Over 200 species of birds have been found here, including 28 endangered on a global or European scale. The park is inhabited by around 40 species of mammals, 13 species of amphibians and numerous species of fish.



Wigry National Park

It was created in 1989. The park is distinguished by an extraordinary wealth of lakes surrounded by vast forests. In addition to the largest lake Wigry, famous for its picturesqueness, there are also 41 natural water reservoirs in the park. A peculiarity is mid-forest, small dystrophic lakes (with acidic water rich in humic substances), surrounded by a floating sheepskin consisting mainly of sphagnum mosses. The Czarna Hańcza, a tributary of the Nemunas, flows through the Park.


Hańcza – the deepest lake in Poland

It is a part of the Suwałki Landscape Park. It is the deepest lake in Poland and in the Central European Plain (108.5 m maximum depth). A typical gutter reservoir with an area of 305 ha, almost 5 km long and a maximal width of 1 km. The shores are covered with numerous boulders and the coastline is varied with picturesque bays and peninsulas. The bottom is carved with ditches, pits and steep ravines – hence it is of great interest to divers.

Hańcza is a lake with very clean, cool, well-oxygenated and highly transparent waters. 24 species of fish have been found here.


Construction of the Augustow Canal in the Historical Context:

In 1794, Poland as a state vanished from the map of Europe for over 124 years. During this difficult time, its territory was divided among Austria, Prussia and Russia.

The region of today’s Augustów was part of the so-called Kingdom of Poland, which was created during the Congress of Vienna and then belonged to the Tsar of Russia, Alexander I.

The idea to build the Augustów Canal was a response to Prussian policy, which aim was to impose customs duties on goods floated from the Kingdom of Poland towards the Baltic Sea. Russian Tsar, Alexander I, at the request of the Minister of the Treasury of the Kingdom of Poland, Prince Franciszek Drucki-Lubecki, agreed to consider building an alternative route to the sea along the Narew River.

In 1823, two missions were sent to check the feasibility of the idea. In 1824, the Tsar approved the proposed route suggested by the military engineer General Ignacy Prądzyński.

In the same year (1824), the regulation of the Biebrza and Netta rivers was undertaken, and brickyards, steelworks and iron foundries, blacksmiths, locksmiths and carpentry workshops were prepared to start work. Special technology was also developed using artificial hydraulic lime (Vicat system).

In 1825, the construction of locks began. The Augustów Canal was the cradle of the Polish cement and bitumen industry. For the first time in Poland, and perhaps in Europe, prefabricated concrete was used in its construction. All construction work was completed in 1839.

The historical twists of fate caused the investment to lose its significance. The canal was used mainly for floating timber, and thanks to this, it has remained largely unchanged to this day.

Why the Augustow Canal Should Be Your Next Active Tourism Destination?  You’ll find out soon 🙂

CHKABI – active water tourism trail

Taking its name from the Czarna Chańcza River, the Augustow Canal and the Biebrza River.

The CHaKABi area has unique natural values and cultural assets which predestinate the development of tourism, in particular water tourism, cycling and recreation (by the water, in the forest, in the countryside),

ecotourism, nature tourism, agritourism and rural tourism, adventure tourism and historical tourism, cultural heritage and culinary tourism.

The Augustow district is located in the northern part of the partnership area. Here tree trails come together: Czarna Hańcza (connects with the Augustow Canal), Augustow Canal and Biebrza. Czarna Hańcza and Biebrza have a kayaking route, on the Augustow Canal is a navigable route. The district covers a network of other tourist trails (including the August Velo bicycle trail, the Forest hiking trail Augustowska, the Horse Trail of the Augustow Forest, Biebrza Horse Trail).

Forests and wooded areas cover approximately 47% of the district area, lakes (which there are 55) and rivers about 3.5%. There are parts of both parks in the county national parks (Biebrza National Park and Wigry National Park) and ten nature reserves. The flagship attraction is the Augustow Canal, connecting the water systems of Niemno and the Vistula river. Augustow, a royal city, was named after its founder, Zygmunt August. It is also a town with the status of a health resort. The Augustow Canal Museum is located here.


Papal Trail

The over -100-kilometre trail was marked out to commemorate the visit of the Holy Father John Paul II on June 9, 1999, in the Augustów Land.

The trail starts in Wigry and then leads along Czarna Hańcza and the Augustów Canal to Augustów. Karol Wojtyła used to kayak along the same waterway in his youth.

Currently, along the route of the „Papal Trail,” there are also walking, cycling and horse trails, but this road can also be covered by car. The road includes historic sacral buildings: the Marian Sanctuary in Studzieniczna, the wooden church of St. Magdalena in Miklaszówka with the image of the patron saint covered with a copy of the Jasna Góra painting in the altar, and the Post-CamaldoleseWigry Monastery Complex with the Papal Apartments transformed into the Museum of John Paul II, and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Augustów, which the Polish Pope gave the status of a Minor Basilica.