Pałuki Church Trail part 1
The current Pałuki region has basically been within the borders of Gniezno archdiocese since it was established. Pope Innocent II’s papal bull of 1136 confirms that many Pałuki settlements were Church property. The oldest temples were rebuilt many times, but many of them failed to preserve their original look. Still, despite the passage of time, the architecture and sacred art in Pałuki are a source of wonder. There are a number of important churches in the region and their interiors are well worth seeing; we suggest a visit to the wooden temples and the oldest of the masonry churches – these are true monuments full of religious art. Time has shown that we are just discovering the secrets that some of them guard. Welcome to the Pałuki Church Trail.
Pałuki Church Trail part 1
A cycle route runs across the north-western part of Pałuki and takes in over a dozen ecclesiastical buildings. The chief among them is one of the oldest – a wooden church in Tarnowo Pałuckie that dates back to the 14th century. Before you get there – this part of the trip is the most distant from Żnin – you are in for a bike ride through the picturesque area of Pałuki, which offers a chance to see other historical temples.
It is best to start the trip in the centre of Żnin – a town that was Church property for about 700 years. As early as the 12th century, Gniezno archbishops owned a residence and spent time here until the 18th century. The Parish Church of St. Florian, built in the 15th century and now part of the street called ulica 700-lecia, is considered the most important religious monument in the town. From there you continue to ulica Śniadeckich, where the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Queen of Poland – the youngest of Żnin’s ecclesiastical monuments – can be seen. It was built as an Evangelical church in 1909 where a Dominican monastery had previously been. After the town was liberated in 1945, it became a Catholic church.
You can again head to the market square. You pass the 15th-century town hall tower (the whole town hall has not survived) and then you start moving east towards Inowrocław. The Church of St. Martin is on the outskirts of the town in the district of Góra (Mountain). It is believed to be the oldest church in Żnin. The local parish has existed for over 700 years, with its first mention dating back to 1301.
You cycle towards Lake Żnińskie Duże, going around it via the cycle path at first, then on an asphalt road. A few hundred metres of stone paving awaits you, but the wide dirt roadside makes the cycling easier. You then reach Brzyskorzystewko and Brzyskorzystew. The latter used to be an archbishop village and then a gentry village from the 15th century on. The timber-frame (or half-timbered) Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria is situated here.
The asphalt road between the fields takes you to Gorzyce, where you pass by a 19th-century neo-Gothic church. After some time, the shining tower of Srebrna Góra Church becomes visible. This is another stop on the journey as a historical 19th-century temple and the 17th-century buildings of a former Radzymińscy estate are both in the village centre.
Trivia: the singer Irena Jarocka, who was famous in the 1970s, was born in Srebrna Góra.
Next you reach the village of Łękno, where the late-Gothic 16th-century Church of St. Peter and St. Paul stands by the lake. From there, the highlight of the trail is not far: the wooden Church of St. Nicholas in Tarnowo Pałuckie.
Road No 251 takes you back east towards Żnin. A turn towards Bracholin allows you to see the well-preserved remains of a Dutch-type tower mill. This short section, less than 1.5 km, is on dirt roads. As you go around Janowiec Wielkopolski from the north, following the road along the valley of the Wełna, you ride through the village of Zrazim and reach Żerniki. This used to be a private town but lost its town privileges in the 19th century. The local Church of the Nativity of Our Lady dates back to the second half of the 15th century.
The last two stops on this bike ride are the wooden Church of Holy Trinity in Świątkowo and the brick Church of St. Nicholas in Cerekwica a few kilometres farther. You can return to Żnin via ulica 1 Stycznia and finish in the town centre, right where you started this encounter with religious art.