Narrow-gauge railway across Pałuki
The route: Żnin – Wenecja – Biskupin – Gąsawa
An original way to learn more about the regional attractions is to travel in the carriages of Żnin County Railways, a tourist narrow gauge. The 12-kilometre route runs from Żnin through Wenecja and Biskupin to Gąsawa. Most often, train cars are pulled by diesel locomotives, but occasionally the vintage Px38 steam locomotive called Leon chuffs out of the station – 80 years old in 2018 and the last of this model in working condition in the world. The ride offers an unforgettable experience to young and the old tourists alike – the train sways, its wheels rattle, and the atmosphere is exceptional.
The narrow-gauge railway has been a characteristic feature of the Pałuki landscape for over a century. Today it is used by visitors, but in the late 19th and early 20th century it was the main means of transport in the region. It carried crops, mail, various wares, as well as people – Pałuki residents used it to get to work, school, and shops. With an overall length of around 80 km, it was put into operation in 1894 and regular passenger trains ran until 1968.
The ride starts in Żnin at ulica Potockiego 4, where the first station of Żnin County Railways is located. You enter one of the colourful carriages and the journey begins. Going towards Wenecja, you can notice the typical Pałuki landscape outside – picturesque fields, hills, and peatbogs.
The first stop is by the holiday resort near the edge of Lake Weneckie. Its shore is the perfect place for summer relaxation, lying on the beach, and active recreation by the water.
The next stop is Wenecja Dolna. The train comes to a halt directly by the Narrow-Gauge Railway Museum, where the ruins of the Wenecja Devil’s castle can be seen on the other side of the tracks. While you are here, you should also visit the nearby neo-Gothic Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The churchyard cemetery is the burial place of Walenty Szwajcer, who discovered Biskupin.
Having got familiar with the highlights of Wenecja, you can carry on. The route takes you along the shore of Lake Biskupin. After some time, you can enjoy the view of the reconstruction of Biskupin village on the peninsula – the famous Archaeological Museum.
Having visited the museum – furnished with new-found knowledge and experience – you can again board the train to travel farther. The last part of the route runs to Gąsawa, a village known for hosting the 1227 meeting of Piast Dukes. Every tourist ought to see the historical Church of St. Nicholas near Gąsawa market square – it is beautiful and unique in all of Europe.
From Gąsawa you can travel back to Żnin by the narrow-gauge railway. You may also take your bike and cycle back via a different route or continue discovering Pałuki on your own.
In the tourist season, the train operates according to a schedule. In the off season, rides can be arranged.