If you are looking for a place that will delight you with its beauty, richness of culture and history as well as unusual attractions, be sure to visit Kashubia. It is a cultural region in northern Poland, part of Gdańsk Pomerania.
It is inhabited by Kashubians - indigenous Pomeranians who speak Kashubian, which has the status of a regional language.
Kaszuby is a land of forests and lakes, hills and valleys, picturesque villages and towns. It is also a place where you can see unique monuments and objects.
One of the places where you can feel the atmosphere of Kashubia is the Center for Education and Promotion of the Region in Szymbark, where you will see attractions such as a Siberian house, the world's longest plank, an upside down house or the world's largest piano. It is a theme park for the whole family, where everything that characterizes Kashubians is concentrated in one place.
In this article, we will introduce you to Szymbark - a village full of Kashubian atmosphere, which is not only an amusement park, but also one of the greatest attractions in Kashubia. We invite you to read!
Kashubian Switzerland - who are the Kashubians living there?
Most tourists go to Szymbark not really knowing where they are going. Most often it is a destination for family trips with the intention of visiting an amusement park, and the central and most recognizable element is the house turned upside down.
This place, however, is not only an attraction for bored tourists in the style of a cheap fair. CEPR's mission is to spread knowledge about Kashubia and the Kashubian region, and a few somewhat kitschy attractions are just a bait that attracts thousands of families every year.
To understand the Kashubians and how proud they are of their origin, it is not enough to take a few photos with a crazy house in the background. Kaszuby is a region with a very rich tradition, throughout Poland, with its own different culture and tradition.
Kaszuby once stretched from the area of the Pomeranian Dukes, today's Szczecin to Pomerania, today the region is associated mainly with the beautiful woods and forests of the Kashubian Switzerland.
Kashubian Switzerland is a colloquial term for the central part of the Kashubian Lake District, lying within the boundaries of the Kartuzy county. The local landscape is characterized by numerous forested hills, picturesque lakes and traditional towns.
The heart of Kashubian Switzerland is the Kashubian Landscape Park, established in 1984, which covers over 30,000 hectares of forests, meadows and waters. Legend has it that Kashubian Switzerland was created from crumbs that God poured out of a sack after creating the world.
That is why this region is so beautiful and diverse, as well as full of interesting attractions and monuments. Kashubian Switzerland is an ideal place for lovers of nature, culture and history of Kashubia.
Kashubians and the Kashubian Language
Kashubi are a West Slavic ethnic group living mainly in northern Poland. Kashubians have their own culture, traditions, art and cuisine, as well as a strong sense of separateness and regional identity. Nevertheless, they always felt Polish and recognized Polish supremacy.
Kashubians speak Kashubian, which belongs to the group of West Slavic and Lechic languages. The Kashubian language was influenced by the Low German, Old Prussian and Polabian languages, and also shows some common features with the dialects of Greater Poland and Masovia.
The Kashubian language is considered a separate language or a dialect of Polish, depending on the criteria adopted. In Poland, Kashubian has had the status of a regional language since 2005 and is used in education, media, liturgy and everyday life.
The Kashubian language has its own Latin alphabet, which was created in the second half of the 19th century on the basis of Florian Ceynowa's proposal. The oldest prints in the Kashubian language come from the 16th century.
CEPR in Szymbark - how to spend a day in the greatest attraction of Kashubia
If you are looking for a place that will surprise you with its diversity, a poor place of entertainment and education at the same time, be sure to visit CEPR in Szymbark.
This is the Center for Education and Promotion of the Region, located in the heart of Kashubia, at the foot of the highest hill in Pomerania - Wieżyca mountain. CEPR in Szymbark is not only a museum, but also an amusement, culture and nature park.
There is something for everyone here. The offer is addressed in particular to families with children and school trips, but also to everyone who wants to learn about the history, traditions and peculiarities of Kashubia.
Here are some of the CEPR attractions in Szymbark:
The World's Longest Plank - is a record object with a length of 36.83 meter and weighing 11 tons, made of a single piece of wood. The board is entered in the Guinness Book of Records and symbolizes the tradition of carpentry in Kashubia.
The Siberian House - is a faithful replica of a house built by Polish exiles in Siberia in the 1940s. In the house, you can see authentic objects and documents from that period, as well as listen to stories about the fate of Siberians.
TOW Bunker "Pomorski Griffin - this is an underground fortification from the times World War II, which is part of the defense system of Gdańsk Pomerania. In the bunker, you can visit an exhibition devoted to the history and activities of the Secret Military Organization "Gryf Pomorski", which fought against the German and Soviet occupiers.
Kashubian World of Fairy Tales - is an interactive educational park where you can learn about Kashubian legends, fairy tales and tales. The park includes wooden sculptures depicting characters from Kashubian folklore, an educational path with riddles and puzzles, and a fairy-tale house with books and games.
The World's Largest Concert Piano - is an unusual instrument with a length of 6 meters and weighing 2 tons, on which you can play or listen to a concert. The piano is the work of the artist Daniel Czapiewski and is dedicated to Fryderyk Chopin.
The Upside Down House is a fun attraction that turns the world upside down upside down. In the house, everything is the opposite - the floor is on the ceiling, and the ceiling is on the floor. Entering a house requires some skill and courage, and staying there can make you dizzy and smile.
These are just some of the CEPR attractions in Szymbark. There are also other interesting places in the center and nearby, such as:
Statue of Świętowid Kaszubski
Nobel Laureate Table
Salino Manor, House of a Kashubian Trapper from Canada
House of the Polish Insurgent from Adampol
Monument of the Pomeranian Griffin
St. Rafał Kalinowski
It is also worth trying local specialties in the "Gościniec pod Wielka Deską" restaurant or the Kaszubska Korona Brewery. For the active, we recommend the Rope Park, the XD Cinema or the Botanical Garden.
CEPR in Szymbark is a place where you can spend the whole day and never get bored.
Wieżyca - see Kashubia from above
For me, no trip to Szymbark is complete without visiting the lookout tower in Wieżyca. I also recommend you to visit this place on your way back from CEPR.
Wierzyca is a town located right next to Szymbark, but also a synonym of one of the tourist attractions, almost obligatory when visiting Kaszuby.
Just as the word Szymbark is immediately associated with the Center for Education and Promotion of the Region, the same way when uttering the name Wierzyca, the locals immediately have in mind the image of the lookout tower towering over Lake Ostrzyckie.
The lookout tower in Wieżyca is located on the top of the hill with the same name and a height of 327.8 meters above sea level. it is the highest elevation in the Kashubian Lake District and the entire Polish Lowlands.
At the top of the hill there is an observation tower named after John Paul II, from which you can admire the panorama of Kashubian Switzerland. The observation tower on Wieżyca is 35 meters high and leads over 180 steps to the top.
It is under the patronage of John Paul II and was established in 1997. From the tower there is a view of the Szymbarskie Hills and the surrounding lakes and rivers called the Raduński Circle. In good weather, you can even see the Hel Peninsula on the horizon!
The entrance to the lookout tower is payable in the season. It is open daily from 9:00 to 20:00, admission costs PLN 9 for adults and PLN 7 for children.
It can be reached on foot from the car park on the road to Szymbark. A walk through the forest path is an additional attraction that allows you to feel the atmosphere of this place. The observation tower in Wieżyca is the perfect place to relax and admire the beauty of nature.
How to get to Szumbark?
The Center for Education and Regional Promotion in Szymbark is a must-see attraction for families who want to get to know Kashubia a bit, but do not have the time or desire to explore this region for several days.
The easiest way to reach CEPR is by own car or rented one. Szymbark is located about 50 km south-west of Gdańsk and can be reached by the national road No. 20. There is a large parking lot for cars and coaches on site. In the summer season, parking is paid.
If you do not have your own car, you can use a taxi or the services of transport companies specializing in personal transfers. The cost of a trip from Gdańsk to Szymbark is about PLN 150-200 one way. We can also order a taxi for the whole day and visit other of the many attractions of Kashubia.
Another option is by public transport, but it is less convenient and takes more time. From Gdańsk, we can go by train to Kościerzyna or Kartuzy, and from there by bus or minibus to Szymbark. The timetable can be checked on the websites of PKP Intercity or PKS Gdańsk and in the "JAK DOJADĘ" application. Tickets can be purchased at the station or from the driver