Suwalki its character consists of Classicist architecture, its wide streets, and low, two-story houses. There are ancient churches, along with museums and beautiful parks where you can enjoy a pleasant moment or two, or more!
Its location makes the town an excellent jumping-off point for excursions to Lake Wigry and other attractive areas of the Suwalki Lake District and the Masuria Lakeland. Close to Suwalki, there are many nature reserves, natural sites, rivers, and two primeval forests. These create countless opportunities for recreation and leisure activities.
History of Suwalki
Back in 1688, Suwalki was a little village situated on a major trade route connecting Grodno and Merecz with Koenigsberg. Camaldolese monks from the Wigry monastery established the settlement, to whom King John Casimir of Poland gave the land there for the future town. Suwalki’s first mention dates from 1688. In 1710 King August II the Strong granted the privilege of holding markets and fairs in Suwalki, and in 1720 gave it city rights based on the Magdeburg Law model.
Following the Partitioning of Poland in 1794, Suwalki and the surrounding area became part of Prussia. The new authorities made the Camaldolese monks abandon their monastery in Wigry, and thus in 1800 Suwalki ceased to be a monastic town.
In 1807 it became part of the recently formed Duchy of Warsaw, and soon a new city hall emerged, paved streets appeared and the town’s center changed into a pleasure park. As a result of the Congress of Vienna, Suwalki became part of the Kingdom of Poland. It became the seat of the Augustow Voivodship in 1816 and went on to become the seat of the province after 1837.
A new church and a new synagogue
Additionally, in 1820 a new church emerged, followed by the first synagogue a year later. During the period 1806 to 1827 Suwalki’s population tripled. In 1835 a police station opened, as well as Orthodox and Protestant churches. Shortly afterward a new marketplace, the St. Peter’s and Paul’s hospital, and a new college were all inaugurated. Furthermore, in the years 1840-1849, the main Catholic church underwent a renovation under the hands of some of the outstanding architects of the period, such as Piotr Aigner, Antonio Corazzi, and Enrico Marconi.
During the inter-war period, Suwalki existed as an autonomous town within the Bialystok Voivodship. Suwalki flourished during this era, as it ceased to be an agricultural center and assumed the character of a town dependent on trade and commerce. In 1931 saw the opening of the new waterworks as well as a power plant. Also, Suwalki was home to one of the largest garrisons in Poland.
Throughout World War II Suwalki became part of East Prussia. After the liberation, the devastated town found it difficult to recover.
Suwalki District Museum
The venue of the Suwalki District Museum, also called Resursa, is from the period 1912-1913. It used to be the building of the Society for Savings and Loans. A general meeting of the Society decided on April 22, 1912, to build the premises. The celebration of the founding stone ceremony happened 3 months later.
After the outbreak of World War I and Suwalki’s occupation by the Germans, a military hospital was in the building. The Polish society took it over before the 1919 independence. In 1920, during Suwalki’s occupation by the Lithuanian army, it was the seat of the People’s Council of the Suwalki region.
Throughout the interwar period, the building was the headquarters of a bank. As it was before the First World War, it was also used for social purposes, housing the premises of Suwalki companies and social institutions.
Suwalki During World War II and beyond
During the Second World War, the Germans settled in the Deutsches Haus, and in October 1944, after the Red Army occupied the city, the military commander had his headquarters here. In 1945 the Cooperative Bank took the building over, leasing part of the premises for the State School of Cooperative Education, and later – the State Polytechnic of Vocational Schools. From 1954 on, the building was entirely dedicated to the needs of the dormitory.
The facade of the ground floor, with its entrance from Kosciuszko Street, became the premises of a social museum in the autumn of 1956, renamed in 1958 in the National Museum of Suwalki Region. The expanding facility received two more showrooms in 1964. The museum became the Regional Museum in 1975. Two years later, the purpose of the entire building changed into this function.
Wigri Park near Suwalki
Wigri National Park is an area of 19.56 km2, about a 9 minutes drive from Suwalki. It offers beautiful sights all year round and is perfect for those who love to spend time in the countryside. The park is famous for its many lakes of different sizes and depths. Altogether, there are 42 lakes. Wigry, the largest, is in the central part of the park. The Czarna Hancza river that flows through the Wigry lake is also a popular kayaking trail.
In the park, one can find the Camaldolese Monastery. Spectacularly on a peninsula in the lake, in the village of Wigry, is this former Camaldolese monastery. The death-obsessed Camaldolese monks built it soon after King Jan II Kazimierz Waza brought them to Wigry in 1667. The whole complex, complete with a church and 17 hermitages, was on an island, which was later connected to the shore. It’s now a hotel and restaurant, providing an atmospheric base for exploring the park.