A Little Bit About Mrągowo Posted by Anna on Jul 1, 2008 in Culture
One of our readers is going to Poland this summer, and that in itself is nothing unusual, tons of people visit Poland every year. But not very many of them go to Mrągowo. In fact, I was rather surprised to hear that anyone from abroad would actually know where Mrągowo is. Because I’d bet that even most Poles wouldn’t be able to tell you much about the place, either. Pity, as Mrągowo is definitely worth more than just a passing glance.
One thing that for most Poles is probably synonymous with Mrągowo is country music. Yep. American style country. Hats, cowboy boots and all. People, who may not be able to point the town on a map, can tell you the place is famous for a big the country music shindig. And they’re right.
The country music festival, called Piknik Country (piknik = picnic) is indeed a very fine event. I know, because once upon a time I used to go there quite religiously. Back in the olden days, when I was a high school student and when on-line ticket sales didn’t exist, I would make a yearly trek from Trójmiasto to Olsztyn to purchase concert passes for me and my friends. Oh, the memories. It was definitely fun. I bought my first Akubra style hat at the festival, it cost me a fortune, too. But… we were supposed to talk about Mrągowo, not about me. Let’s get back to the topic.
Remember when I mentioned that some places in Poland have had three, or sometimes more, different names? Mrągowo is one of them. Because it’s located in the area that used to be known as East Prussia, way back when the town was called Sensburg. It’s a pretty old town, too. The Teutonic Knights, as they tended to do at that time, built themselves a fortress there back in the 14th century. The settlement evolved and nobody paid it much attention until 1871 when during the unification of Germany, it found itself in the German Empire. Then it returned to its usual state of obscurity.
All that changed after WW2. The town’s German population was expelled and the name was changed to Żądźbork. Then in 1947, it was changed once again, this time to its current version of Mrągowo. And how did the Polish authorities come up with that? They did some historical digging around and found a nice, respectable guy they liked. Krzysztof Celestyn Mrongowiusz (Christoph Coelestin Mrongovius 1764-1855) was his name and he was a famous linguist known for preserving Polish language and culture.
So, the names went like this: Sensburg – Żądźbork – and now Mrągowo.
But enough of this historical stuff. Tourists don’t visit Mrągowo to ponder its name changes, they go there to do stuff. Outdoorsy, nature type active stuff. And as the town’s official website proclaims, it’s “The City of Active People”. And it just happens to be absolutely right on.
Mrągowo’s fantastic location in the Warmia-Mazury lake district makes it, and not just only in a cute slogan, the summer capital of the region. The town is surrounded by more lakes than you can plop your kayak in. Some of the larger lakes are Czos, Juno, Juksty, Salęt and Wągiel, and people flock there for canoeing, sailing, hiking, cycling, horseback riding, and naturally – fishing. You can’t spend your summer in the lake district and not poke your stick in the water. You never know what you may catch!
Of course any visit to Mrągowo would not, and could not, be complete without country music. This year’s Piknik Country (it’s the 27 edition by the way, so by Polish standards it’s been around practically forever) is scheduled to take place on July 25-27. And I so wish I could be there! I need to buy me a new Aussie style hat.
piknik (masculine, plural: pikniki) = picnic
jezioro (neuter, plural: jeziora) = lake
lato (neuter, plural: lata) = summer
wakacje (neuter, plural only) = vacation/s, holidays, the word normally implies summer holidays.
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