The route acquaints the tourists with landmarks, important cultural monuments, ethnography, ecology of Augustów Canal, also tells about historical events of the World War I and II that happened on this territory.
The watershed area of the Augustów canal is a unique place where the borders of 3 countries -the Republic of Poland, the Republic of Belarus and the Republic of Lithuania – cross.
The tourists can relax and enjoy eco-friendly environment, learn more about national traditions and culture of the lands surrounding the Augustów Canal, find new friends.
During the route tourists will learn about the history of the construction of the Canal and visit some ethnographic, architectural, historical and war memorials.
The Augustów Canal is the real engineering masterpiece of XlX-th cent., linking the basins of the Vistula River and the Neman River. In the whole world there are only two analogues of this waterway: the Gota Canal in Sweden and the Kaledonski in Britain.
The Augustów Canal starts not far from the town of Augustów (Republic of Poland). The length of the canal is 101,2 km, The watershed area of the canal on the Belarusian side of the border is 21,2 km., 80 km – in Poland respectively. On the territory of Belarus the Canal includes 4 navigation locks: Kuzhinets, Volkushek, Dombrovka and a 4-chamber lock Nemnovo, 5 canal checks. Border lock «Kuzhinets» and canal check Volkushek were reconstructed by Poland.
The Canal starts at the borderline with Poland 1,8 km away from border lock «Kuzhinets», from where it goes about 2 km along the border territory. There is a seasonal border gateway “Rudavka-Lesnaya”. Then the Canal flows along the river Chornaya Gancha and moves to artificially made flat area. In Nemnovo village through a 4-chamber lock the Canal falls into the Neman river and flows to the Republic of Lithuania.
On the Neman river there is a border gateway “Privalka – Shvendubre”. Век part of Augustów Canal comprises several rivers, include: Volkushanka and the Chornaya Gancha. Along the Canal there brick houses built about one hundred years ago, now they bell lock tenders.
The idea of creation of the Canal was determined by econ problems, namely the introduction of high customs duties by Russian Tsar Alexander I issued an order to create a was roundabout Prussian borders. The construction started in 18 continued till 1839. Thus, 18 canal locks, 21 lock chambers, 29 region dams, service rooms, 14 bridges were built in general.
The initial the Canal construction was the Polish Minister of Finance Frai Drutsky-Lubetsky, his Palace has been preserved in Schuchin and now need reconstruction. The author of the project was an Ignatij Prandzinsky. Such famous engineers of that time as Y.Lelevel, V.Hrzhan A.Shults also planing important role construction.
Belarusian part of the Canal was rarely used. Polish part of the Augustów Canal has been the favorite destination of active recreation lovers. The well-developed infrastructure contributes to it. Campsites, sanatoriums and health centers, different hotels, cafes and restaurants were built there. In the last years the Augustów Canal has been in high demand among European tourists. Every year the Augustów Canal in Poland is visited by about 300 000 tourists, almost 20 000 of them prefer active rest, so canoe and bicycle trips are extremely popular.
In 2004 on the initiative of Belarusian President A.G. Lukashenko the reconstruction of the Augustów Canal began. At the same time the government was preparing the documents necessary to include the Augustów Canal into the World Heritage List of U N ESCO.
During the reconstruction almost all initial covering materials were preserved or changed into new ones with similar characteristics. In 2006 Belarusian side of the Canal was totally rebuilt.
The Augustów Canal in Belarus is renowned for its unforgettable nature that differs from the Polish part of the Canal. The Canal flows through the territories of Augustów and Grodno Puschas, near there are Sopotskin and Gozh reserves of republican importance, Bebzhansky and Vigersky national reserves (Republic of Poland).
There are plenty of rivers, lakes, streams and marshes. Endless expanses of the Augustów Canal boast plentiful variety of animals and plants that today are protected by law. Some extremely rare plants grow on this very territories and nowhere else.
The myriads of birds live here, son them for example black stork, red kite, gray crane and kingfisher: included into the Red Book. This is the most eco-friendly territory Belarus and certainly, excellent place for relaxation.
At present the Augustów Canal is one of the most beautiful place Grodno region. It attracts tourists from foreign countries with unique nature and tempts the lovers of water touring.
Every yea Canal celebrates national festivals and holidays with performances. International canoe competitions also take place her The Belarusian territories of the Augustów Canal breathtaking variety of valuable pieces of creative work, magnify historical monuments and archeological sites.
Here tourists can fortified constructions built during World War I and II, the museum V. Usov’s outpost, the Vollovichy Palace and Gardens in Svyatsk Parks-and-Gardens Complexes in the village Belye Bolota Radzivilki, neolithic architectural monuments, ancient orthodox and catholic cemeteries and etc. This region is unique with culture blend. Consequently, it had a great impact on long customs and traditions, and national identity of local population.
The banks of the Augustów Canal witnessed military actions the uprising in 1830 – 1831, fierce battles during World War I and II took place here. To protect the territories different defer installations like forts and pillboxes were made. Some of them been preserved till our times.
Forts were built the day before the World War I. The Fort is a 3- storey stone and concrete subsurface structure with indoor premises, ammunition room, hospital, food storage room and special rooms for demolition in case of stepback and also posterns. The front elevation is 150 meters in length.
The width of walls was about 1.5-2 meters. In the open area there were cells (connected with an aisle) for machine guns and snipers. Forts were located in a circle around Grodno in a distance of 5-20 km from the center of the city. Since February till August 1915
Grodno fortress withstood the Nazi attack despite the fact that according to the order of tsar Nikolay II garrison artillery, machine guns and the majority of soldiers were withdrawn from Grodno. During the stepback all fort groups were blasted, except for the group of fort №4 in the Strelchiki village.
Before the outbreak of the Second World War defensive constructions of fortified sector №68 were built along the Augustów Canal. There the subdivision of the 9th special machine gun-artillery squadron was located. In June 22,1941 since the very beginning of War all soldiers struggled fiercely on the territories of the Augustów canal and all frontier outposts and defenders of fortified sector №68 died.
Grodno forts are connected with other tragic events of World War 11 history: around the Naumovichy village and the Zagorany there were the so-called «death camps», where the Nazi killed more than 3 thousand people – civilians of Grodno and eastern regions of Poland. In ІІ 1960, a statue of mourning woman was erected on a hill near the І Naumovichy Fort in the memory of all Nazi victims who died or suffered.
In 1990 the people of Lipsk (Republic of Poland) erected near the і Naumovichy fort a cross and a black marble tablet to commemorate all | countrymen that were shot.
The real masterpiece of unreal beauty is the Palace and Gardens in Svyatsk, it is the architectural monument of late XVIII – early XIX centuries. The Palace that once belonged to the Volovichy was built in 1779 upon the project of the architect J.Sakko. The Palace in classic and baroque styles and park with a system of artificial ponds were constructed on request of Antonii Volovich. The interiors of the Palace are lavishly decorated with stucco work and paintings. Also there are impressive fireplaces, beautiful door framing and modeling. Decor elements were made by famous artists Smuglevitch, Mankovsky in classic style according to the design of J. Sakko.
The Palace and Gardens include household buildings and a neogothic chapel built on the shore of central lake. In 1930 the Estate was reconstructed, but remained its initial layout. The central body of the Palace is a two-storey stone building with a basement and a French roof. Side wings and porticos uniting all constructions in a single complex were added to the main building.
The Palace was situated deep in the picturesque landscape park comprising 12 hectare territory. Despite the last insecure centuries that brought two world wars, rebellions and revolutions the Palace and Gardens in Svyatsk still attract tourists and considered to be the best preserved Estate in Belarus.
Sopotskin was first mentioned as the estate of duke Sopotko in early 16th century. In 1784 the Estate turned into a trading post with a Uniate church and a synagogue. Since XVIII cent. Sopotskin was a part of different countries, in 1939 it was affiliated to the BSSR. St. Josaphat Kuntsevych Cathedral (in Teolin, the settlement of Sopotskin) was built in 1789 on the donation of Antony Vollovich in honour of his wife Teofilia.
The Cathedral presents one-nave one-apse basilica. The front is decorated with two towers in baroque style. Inside the Cathedral there – tyhtgust channel – are the altars of St. J. Kuntsevych, St. Kizimir, St. Anna, St. Mikhail you can find commemorative tablets to T. Kostushko and E.Ozheshko It would be rather interesting to visit reliquary chapels situated the old part of cemetery in the Sopotskin settlement, with the graves of Yulia Dzekonskaya (1868) and Josef Gursky (1893).
In the central square of the Sopotskin settlement there is a ma grave of Soviet soldiers and Nazi victims. More than 100 people wer buried there. In 1990-2000 the remains of Usovo, Golovenchits Dorgunare frontier guards were reburied there.
On the territory of the outpost №1 there is a museum of the Soviet Union Hero Victor Usov. The collected exhibits narrate the history of the outpost and of soldiers who guarded it in the Soviet time, tell about a heroic act of frontier guards in the years of the Great Patriotic War, and also about the present life in the outpost. In front of the museum there is a monument to the guards of a pre-war outpost №3, who withstood the Nazi siege for several hours in June, 22,1941. The tourists are invited to make interesting excursions around the museum and to the outpost.
Near the villages of Sonichy, Tartak and Noviky, you can see pillboxes (or blindages) made in 1940-1941. Pillboxes are stone-and-concrete two- storey constructions with embrasures, the wall thickness of which reached about a meter. During the first days of the Great Patriotic War the pillbox garrisons showed fierce resistance to German troops. In the village of Sonichy the monument was erected on a pillbox to commemorate the soldiers and officers of 9th special machine gun-artillery squadron of 68th Grodno fortified sector who died during the War.
Near the village of Nemnovo there is an only 3-chamber lock on the Augustów Canal, after reconstruction it was transformed in a 4- chamber lock with a maximum water drop (about 10 meters). It is the last lock on the Canal. It was built in 1829. It is located on the 102nd km and is connected with the Neman River.
Near the village of Dombrovka in 1829 the engineer Arnold built a 1 – chamber lock. Today there is a memorial tablet on the inner side of the lock.
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