Gorzów Wielkopolski (Landsberg/Warthe)
is the biggest town of the voivodeship Lebus and the "secret capital" of the Neumark region.
It is a big town with nearly 130.000 inhabitants.
is situated at the estuary of the Klodawa river to the Warta river. In the north and south of the town there are forests.
The town was called Landisberch Nova (Neu-Landsberg) till the 16th century in analogy to the town Alt-Landsberg, situated east of Berlin.
It was founded by settlers from Brandenburg, Lower-Saxonia and North Rhine-Westphalia and was a border-fortress by the nearby Polish border-settlement
Santok. Like the city of Rome it was built on seven hills. From 1321 the town was surrounded by walls and towers.
In 1433 the town was besieged by the hussites and during the Thirty Years' War the suburbs outside of the walls were destroyed and the town was occupied
by the Swedish forces.
After the war Landsberg quickly developed into an important marketplace with the neighbouring Poland and got wealth and signification.
A lot of companies were established. In the 19th century industrialisation took place, forced by the connection to the Preussische Ostbahn train line
Machine-building and forest-industry, wire- and mesh-production, food-industry, breweries and mills were established here, and in the 20th century also the chemical industry.
At the end of the 19th century till the 1920s many parks were created in the town. Because of this the town got the name
"park town of the east".
Since 1899, there has been an electrical tramway in the town (in addition to newer vehicles, some old tramway cars from the German town of Kassel are being used nowadays).
The town, which was not destroyed during the first five years of the World War II, was severely damaged during the last months of the war: the retreating German forces
detonated the bridges and the town, handed over without a fight to the Russian army, was destroyed by incendiaries and looting.
On January 30th, 1945, the German Landsberg was renamed to Polish Gorzów
. The last German inhabitants, if they did not flee as a result of the warfare,
had to leave the town till 1949. The most of the new inhabitants came from the Polish region of Greater Poland (Wielkopolska).
Since the 1960s, Gorzów Wielkopolski
has developed into a modern city, new housing estates were built, and in 1979, the number of citizens exceeded 100.000.
The sights are very versatile. From the great cathedral, lots of small memorials and the wonderful parks to the town museum you can
find a lot of interesting things. For us the biggest sight is the town itself. A lot of old citizen houses (some of them reconstructed, other ones waiting
for that), the nice boardwalk at the Warta River, the old reconstructed town wall, Gorzow Wielkopolski gives nice impressions of the modern Polish
town life and the previous German town history.
A drive in one of the old trams is a special attraction, where you feel like in the seventies, a breakfast at the boat restaurant at the Warta River (unfortunately not always there) will stay unforgettable. But there are a lot of possibilities for "modern" amusement too. Several modern shopping-malls, which are not different from similar ones in Germany, invites you for shopping and the gastronomy makes progress as well, although, like in the rest of Europe, a trend towards "fast food" is visible.
A very good new sports complex invite you to Gorzów.
Boardwalk at Warta river
The boardwalk at the Warta river with its mediterranean flair is the nicest place of the city. Here you can stroll along the river,
eating icecream, sit on the stairs and enjoy the wonderful view on the river.
Unfortunately, we are still missing any kind of touristic shipping, although small passenger boats like the "Weisse Flotte" in Germany offering excursion trips could be very successful and of course profitable here. The Polish eagle, a memorial to the Polish engineer forces of the World War II, is sitting over the boardwalk.
- If you go over the old Warta bridge, you will notice a futuristic building at the end of the bridge, which is the symbol for the start of
the town into the 21th century. The so-called Info-Globe is an information and exhibition centre, as well as an observation point. Going to the outlook terrace, from which one has a great view of the Warta River, the town, and the nearby town museum in the old granary, is particularly recommended (the key can be obtained from the security staff in the basement).
A new shopping centre was recenty built behind the Info-Globe, on the left bank of the Warta River (former industrial area).
Town museum in the old granary
Directly at the Info-Globe you will find an old granary built in the 18th century, today a museum, where you can see some exhibits related to the history of the town and modern art.
In front of the museum you will see parts of an old steam machine, for which building the town was well-known in the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century.
Not far away there is the base of the destroyed memorial of the honorary citizen of Landsberg and machine manufacturer Paucksch, who sponsored a lot of social facilities and
the Paucksch fountain on the market place.
- The so-called Paucksch fountain, which was sponsored by the honorary citizen and manufacturer Paucksch is situated at the old marketplace. It was built in 1896-97. The current fountain is a replica, as the original was destroyed during the war. The figures shows the sources of the wealth of the town, a boy with a hammer - symbol of the
many machine factories here, a girl with a boot is a symbol of the river navigation on the Warta river and another girl with a fishing rod stands for the
fishery. The big figure, a water-carrying woman is symbolising the dilligence of the Landsberg citizen.
Hermann Paucksch owned a steam boiler factory which was known in whole Germany.
Old town crest
- In the Sikorski street - opposite the town hall - you can see the old Landsberg town crest. It's engraved in an big
stone, which was a part of the old Warta bridge and which was salvaged from the river after the war.
Alley of the Gorzow celebrities
Not far away from the Paucksch fountain you will find the so-called Alley of the Gorzow celebrities. Pay attention, its easy to fail to see it, because its
only made of boards for important Gorzów
artists and scientists, embedded in the floor of the market place, most of them unknown in Germany.
But not only people who have done "big" things, will be honoured by the town. For example, they built a memorial for an well-known prowler (Sikorski street 111, not far away
from the shopping-mall), a symphatic feature of the town. The attentive visitor will find memorials of a speedway-winner, of a gipsy poet or other people. Increasingly, people from the German past are also honored, what is supported by an association of former German citizens of the town.
Witches fountain and Sfinster
- In the old town you can see the so-called Witches fountain. This spot was supposed to be a meeting place of women who were said to be witches.
If you throw a small coin into the fountain, you can make a wish for yourself ;-)
But the witches fountain is not the only one mythic thing here, not far away is the statue of the so-called Sfinster, a fairy tale figure.
Park of roses
- The park in the middle of the town is one of the most wonderful places of the town. Watered by the small river Klodawka and equipped
with an duck pond, gives the silence and recreation and a picturesque atmosphere (a nice children's playground is here as well).
Note the rare old oaks and the truly magical nymph monument.
- The remaining parts of the historic town walls, built in the 14th century, are located in the old town centre.
The more than 4 meters high and 130 meters long wall contained towers made of fieldstones and bricks.
St. Mary's Cathedral
- The cathedral is the most important architectural sight of the town.
The three-aisled, roman-catholic church was built in the 13th century in Gothic style. The renaissance altar from the 16th century, which is the only one preserved out of 17 (!) is worth seeing. The tower from the 15th century is 52 meters high and can be climbed (nice view of the city).
Have a look at the church door too, which is full of steel nails: during World War I, the citizens of Landsberg, who were fortunate to not go to war as soldiers, could support their country by means of a donation. More than 10 thousand mark were collected by selling nails, which the citizens hammered into the cathedral door.
Tekst: Frank Wassmuth, 2010
Corrections: Paweł Zieliński