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Bydgoszcz, a city located in the eastern part of Toruń-Eberswald valley, was established six centuries ago on the Brda River. The first confirmed note concerning Bydgoszcz dates back to the year 1239, and as early as in 1253 Boguslaw, a head of Bydgoszcz kasztelania(a medieval administrative unit)was mentioned. On April 19, 1346, during the reign of Casimir the Great, Bydgoszcz was granted city status and developed on the site of the present-day Old Town. The Bydgoszcz castle construction was begun at the location of old settlements.
That very moment marked the era of rapid development of the city. A convenient geographical and transportation location, providing possibilities of trade contacts became the major factor influencing the very situation. Over 80 professions and 12 crafts existed during the period between the 16th and 17th century. At that time Bydgoszcz became one of the most inhabited cities in Poland (approx. 5 thousand citizens), known not only locally, in the Kujawy district, but also abroad. However, the Swedish wars, Tatar and Turkish raids as well as severe epidemic diseases spreading all over the city contributed to its downfall. The gradual deterioration led to a considerable decrease in the number of citizens equal to 2 thousands in the midst of 17th century and as soon as a century later, the number reduced to approximately a thousand inhabitants. Due to the first partition of Poland in 1772 Bydgoszcz was brought under Prussian rule and the situation remained unchanged until the end of the World War 1. During that period Bydgoszcz started to regain strength and position. Owing to its convenient location it became both an administrative center and a place attractive for German investors. The industrial revolution of the 19th century brought a new status for the city. It became a major industrial center in the region. Furthermore, the city’s position as a major transportation center strengthened after Germany attached it to its railway system. In 1851 the first connection was established with Kostrzyn and consequently with Berlin. In 1852 Bydgoszcz received a direct connection with Gdańsk and in 1856 with Górny Śląsk providing the city with regular coal, iron and steel supplies. The following stage of Bydgoszcz’s accession to German and international commercial system was to create a direct connection with Królewiec in 1857 and (through establishing a Bydgoszcz-Warsaw route in 1862) with vast areas of Polish Crown and Russian Empire. In addition, the construction of the Bydgoszcz Canal played an important part in strengthening the city’s position. It is the very transportation development that should be taken into account while analyzing the first in centuries formal process of expanding the boundaries of the city in 1851 and subsequently in 1876, 1897, 1906, 1909, 1913, 1914 and 1920.
Despite all economic obstacles that the new nation had to struggle with, the interwar period of the years 1920-1939 marked development of the city of Bydgoszcz and its territorial structures. After 10 years of independence the city numbering 118,000 inhabitants had approximately 150 industrial plants. At that time, total area of Bydgoszcz was much more extensive than the area of Krakow, Łódź or Katowice and ranked 7th, taking the number of inhabitants into account and 5th as far as area aspect is concerned.
After the end of World War 1 the city ceased to function as an administrative center and was incorporated into Poznań district. However, it did not lose its significance as a major industrial and transportation center. It successively developed absorbing surrounding provinces into administrative boundaries of the city. In the years of 1939-1945 German occupation suspended the development process of Bydgoszcz. It was a tragic period especially for the Polish people inhabiting the city with such a high population of Germans. After the war the city was reestablished a capital of the district, but this time called Bydgoszcz district, regaining all the administrative laws. After another administrative reform Bydgoszcz became the capital of Kujawy-Pomorze district. It currently ranks 8th as far as the area is concerned numbering 386,000 inhabitants. It covers the area of 175km2 and statistically 2209 people live on 1km2 . Presently the city is divided into 42 urban units within its boundaries.
The Brda River, being a hydrographic axis of the city, has been a sailable waterway since the 12th century and in 18th century it was connected to the Noteć River with the Bydgoszcz Canal. Today the fact of neighboring a river does not play any important part in transportation development. More significant is the fact that the city is situated at an intersection of the state roads being transit routs: north-south (Scandinavia – The Balkans) the state road no. 5 and east-west (Western Europe- Baltic States) the state road no. 10. Every day the railway station is used by 230 passenger trains and the civil airport serves several state transportation planes. Bydgoszcz has entered a suburbanization phase, in other words processes in the suburban areas. This issue is confirmed by official reports of Bydgoszcz citizens inhabiting the surrounding areas of Białe Błota, Osielsko, Nowa Wieś Wielka. However, the highest population density( over 10,000 inhabitants per 1km2 ) is still maintained in the city districts of Bocianowo, Bartodzieje, Wyżyny, Wzgórze Wolności, Szwederowo and Błonie.


The physical aspect of the city downtown was shaped in the late 19th and the beginning of the 20th century (in just 30 years), in the period of rapid development of the city, when factories, workshops, warehouses, industrial plants as well as schools, hospitals, theatres, hospitals, cafés, restaurants and whole districts full of residential buildings were created. The best local and Berlin architects contributed to the appearance of newly erected structures. A great number of eclectic apartment houses with detailed facades combining decorative elements of Baroque, Renaissance, Gothic or even Romanticism emerged to finally give way to secession with its elegance of fin de siecle. Until the beginning of the 20th century the old market square served as the administrative and commercial center. A considerable spatial development toward the northern and western part of the city was a natural consequence of establishing the first railway connections and accomplishing construction of the railway station in the area of old Bocianowo grange. Gdańska Street, with a great number of its secession and eclectic edifices, became the major artery of the developing city. The end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century brought the structural development of the Liberty Square and a number of perpendicular and parallel streets with their exceptional eclectic architecture. Today the significance of Gdańska Street(approx. 3.5 km long) remains the same and its position as the major artery and commercial axis of the city is undisputable. The downtown area is characterized by diverse spatial quality. A great variety of urban structures of high architectonic value developed there: the Old Town, the eastern side of Gdańska Street (Mickiewicz Avenue, Weyssenhoff Square, Sielanka Street, “The Music District” with its philharmonic, theater, basilica and other public facilities. However, the other side of the street (from the 19th century) is mostly inhabited by poor citizens and requires investments. The downtown streets are also characterized by immense contrasts of modern and reconstructed buildings neighboring neglected and devastated ones (the opera surroundings, The Railway Station area, Jagiellońska Street, Old Town area- Podwale Street, Grodzka and Bernardyńska streets). The city center does not have any clearly established limits. The current spatial policy aims at shaping central downtown area covering grounds within Świętej Trójcy, Kruszwicka, Marszałka Focha, Królowej Jadwigi streets, the area on the eastern side of the Brda River within the boundaries of Śniadeckich Street with the Piastowski Square, the quarters neighboring Gdańska Street in the direction of Mickiewicz Avenue, 3 Maja Street area, Jagielońska Street toward Ogińskiego street. Apart from communication and commercial centers, the downtown comprises Banks, District Administration offices, Main Post Office, River Port, cultural centers (opra, philharmonic, theater, museums, movie theatres, galleries) and the most precious of all monuments: The Parish church, The church of the Order of Poor Clares (from the spire of which a bugle-call is played on a daily basis), an old Granary and the city’s symbol- The Woman Archer, from 1910.

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