The Land of Great Masurian Lakes

Also referred to as the Land of a Thousand Lakes is a very picturesque area of Poland with it’s network of forests, streams, rivers and canals binding numerous lakes together in a post-glacial trough in the direction north to south.

This creates a perfect region for those that love nature and wish to explore in summer by walking, biking, canoeing or sailing and in winter offering skiers and ice-boaters this expanse of water. It is also a heaven for anglers, ornithologists and hunters alike with room for everyone.

Historical Background

During the Middle Ages and until about the 13th century the Land of Great Masurian Lakes was inhabited by a Prussian tribe called the Galinds. In disputes and wars they were defeated by the Prussians and the Jatvings and in 1226 Duke Konrad Mazowiecki bought the Teutonic Knights to Poland creating a new state known as the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights, on the political map of the medieval period. In 1254 Pope Innocent IV declared the former lands of the Galinds be given to the Mazovian dukes but a year later Kuyavian duke Casimir gave the land to the Teutonic Knights in exchange for the land of Lubawa.

Within a hundred years the name Galinds had disappeared from the historic records with only the names of some of the villages and some of the vocabulary still used until the 17th century. The Teutonic Knights during this period were unable to settle in the eastern part of the Monastic State due to raids by the Lithuanians.

In accordance with the Treaty of Toruń in 1466 the Land of Great Masurian Lakes stayed within the borders of the Monastic State and after the Prussian Homage in 1525 it was fully incorporated into the Duchy of Prussia.

With Polish kings being engaged in eastern wars and dynastic concerns the Duchy of Prussia remained a largely autonomous vassal of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1657, when the Prussian, Frederick William (Great Elector) of Brandenburg took over the full sovereignty of the region.

1701 saw elector Frederick III crown himself King as, King Frederick I of Prussia creating a strong absolutist state which was to play a greater role during the partitions of Poland.

The Land of Great Masurian Lakes between the 14th and 17th century saw many Polish citizens settle from the region of Mazovia bringing their own language and customs and culture, founding new settlements including churches and creating their own communities. The name Masuria comes from these new settlers from Mazovia. During this period the Polish language prospered and education was at the forefront with new secondary schools set up and the Konigsberg University (now part of Russia and known as Kaliningrad in 1946). It was founded in 1544 as second Protestant academy, after the University of Marburg, by Duke Albert of Prussia, and was commonly known as the Albertina. Abraham Kulwieć and Stanisław Rafajłowicz were among the first professors.


The Land of Great Masurian Lakes – Poland Travel Guide

Tatra Mountains in southern Poland