The project "The Pearls of the Little Motherland". Augustow Canal: age-old manors, sluicing and tourists
The Augustow Canal is often mentioned with the word "unique". This epithet firmly attached to it in the first half of the XIX century. Even then it was given the first place among the channels of Europe and Russia. And now the Augustow Canal is the monument of hydraulic engineering. It has not lost its individuality. On the contrary, over the past few years it has become prettier, has acquired a modern gloss, while retaining the mysterious charm of antiquity. The unique hydrotechnical facility of the XIX century not only connects rivers and countries. It serves to strengthen friendship and mutual understanding among nations: every year it gathers the thousands of guests from Belarus, Lithuania, Poland and other countries on their shores.
From the Vistula to the Neman
The Augustow Canal is the unique place not only for Grodno region. In the world there are only two similar structures: Caledonian in the UK and Gothic in Sweden. When in 1821 Prussia unilaterally imposed excessively high fees for the transport of goods from Russia and Poland through its territory to the Baltic ports, a decision was made to build a water transport corridor through which cargo could be delivered to the Baltic Sea bypassing Prussia. The construction of the most important transport artery, which connected the Neman and the Vistula, began in 1824.
There were 18 sluices on the canal, many dams and bridges. They were built for ages. The gates were erected from stone, oak bars
were used for the base. At the same time, we tried to ensure that the structure was not only strong, but also beautiful: the sluices were faced outside with red brick.
- In 1831 construction work came to the final stage, and in 1834 the largest three-chamber sluice "Nemnovo"
was commissioned, says Edmund Yutkevich, the deputy of the director of the regional unitary enterprise "Grodnomeliovodhoz" .
Immediately from the Vistula in the Neman and back a raft of timber was established, the vessels filled with goods have been shuttled.
The life on the canal was at a standstill after the uprising of 1863. And only in 1903 it was noticed once again. Sluices and dams were put in order and repaired, channel was deepened, dams were built under the guidance of the director of the Vistula-Neman waterway, and Mikhail Strashkevich, the engineer .
Straszkiewicz was prevented from completing the task until the First World War, after which builders and engineers again expected work to restore the waterway. It is said that already in the late 1920s up to 170,000 tons of timber were transported here annually.
We traveled as to Switzerland
The surroundings of the canal since its opening were compared with the fashionable then species of Switzerland and Germany. It is no wonder that at the beginning of the last century here began to build the first recreation center. Here one could meet participants of hiking and longer trips: from Suvalok to Grodno and further to Bobruisk on the transport. And, of course, fans of kayak alloys. Beyond them the boats, pulling barges with passengers also stretched.
It is interesting that at the beginning of the last century tourism was one of the most important pages in the life of the inhabitants of the manor and Sviatsk Gurskih park complex in the village of Radzivilka. Wealthy people came to relax in comfortable surroundings. They were playing tennis, billiards and were walking along the Augustow Canal. These traditions are maintained in our day.
The recent history
A new life on the canal began in 2004, when the reconstruction of the Belarusian part of the waterway began with the support of the president of the country. The main scope of work was performed by the specialists of the regional unitary enterprise "Grodnomeliovodhoz".
Throughout the canal, there are now 18 sluices in operation, there are 5 sluices-regulators and 4 shipping locks on the Belarusian part: Nemnovo, Dombrovka, Volkushek and Kuzhinets.
Now a walk along the Belarussan part of the ancient canal takes several hours - it is not possible to quickly cover a distance of more than 20 kilometers with sluicing.
Two years ago, the territory of the special tourist and recreational park "Augustow Canal" entered the visa-free zone for visiting by foreigners.
Kuzhinec: the water gate
Foreign tourists-kayakers begin their traveling along the water channel and getting acquainted with our country on the Belarusian-Polish border - from the Kuzhinec sluice, where the checkpoint "Lesnaya-Rudavka" is located.
The life is boiling here from May to October. At this place the border is crossed by foreigners on boats, kayaks, boats and bicycles. We met a group of tourists from Warsaw. The male company of Poles got out on the boat on a trip to the Augustow Canal.
-We arrived in Belarus on a visa-free regime, says Robert, the captain of the ship.
We planned to spend the night in one of the agromanors. And we plan to go to the Nemnovo sluice.
The Grodno border group told that since May of this year about a thousand people crossed the border. Basically it's Polish cyclists. There is a popular cycling route along the canal from the Lesnaya-Rudavka checkpoint to the village of Nemnovo.
A lizard on the clock
Two kilometers downstream and the tourist is at the Volkoshek gateway. In this place, in addition to the lock itself, there are two more attractions: a memorial tablet, which says that in 1929 the works were supervised by Korchakovsky, the engineer-lieutenant .
A favorite place for photos for tourists is nearby. It is a 200-year-old sundial. Even the time can be checked on them in good weather.
The сlock during the reconstruction of the channel, the granite dial is a huge stone block with the figures printed. Restorers replaced the plates, put the main arrow. The rarity was decorated by forest lizard frozen in the metal .
There is a version that this is the oldest active sundial in the area. According to legend, in the beginning of the XIX century, they were installed by the general Ignatii Pronzinsky in honor of his beloved woman.
But near the village of Lesnaya, which is downstream from the Volkoshek sluice, there is such an attraction as a ferry. The canal divided the village into two parts. The ferry service united the left and the right banks.
The "tasty" place for a tourist
The most popular holiday destination for Grodno residents and foreign guests is the Dombrovka sluice.
In the structure of this hydraulic engineering complex there is a navigable sluice and a sluice-regulator. First of all, the distribution gateway, partitioning the Black Gancha River, is impressive, it is the largest on the whole canal. The banks are full of fishing lovers: in the waters are found even trout and grayling. In the summer there is no light from those who wish to stand under the natural waterfall. The bottom of the regulator is wooden here, the water is ankle-deep.
From it along the paved path we approach the navigable sluices, where the sluicing takes about 25 minutes. Two letters on the sides of the gateway are IM: this inscription is almost 190 years old, but the secrets of the initials have not yet been solved. There is a version that they belonged to the beloved of Captain Arnold, who in 1829 led the construction of the sluice.
The tickets for the ship are sold here. And two private steamships take passengers.
There is also a mooring for ships, you can rent catamarans, boats and swim through the canal, enjoying the beautiful scenery. On Dabrovka there are more than 20 places for rest, parking. Every weekend various festivals are held.
One of the most beloved ones is the festival "Augustow Canal in the Culture of Three Nations", "The Augustow Canal invites friends". In total, there are several hundred points on the list of cultural and sports events that take place on the channel.
The museum on the shore
Two years ago the museum of the Augustow Canal was opened in the former house of the navigational warden on Dombrovka. The life of the ranger is recreated in several rooms of the house, rare exhibits, impressive photographs, telling about the history of creation and restoration of the channel are presented.
Chertok, Kurkul and HPP
The Chertok sluice-regulator is the next on the way. It was completely destroyed during the war. It was recreated in the same place during the restoration work. At the pier for ships there is a memorable sign, reminding that the reconstruction of the Augustow Canal in 2004-2006 was carried out by the decree of the president of the Republic of Belarus. There are the remains of the pillbox on the opposite bank of the canal. The line of defense of the 68th Grodno fortified area was here in 1941 - the Molotov line. The pillboxes, by the way, are located throughout the channel, and one of the tourist routes passes through these places.
A few hundred meters to the right - a memorial sign to the soldiers-border guards who died in an unequal battle with the Nazis on the first day of the Great Patriotic War.
Here we are at the hundredth kilometer of the canal - at the Kurkul sluice. It is interesting in that it was restored in the same condition as the builders built it 180 years ago. To the left is the dam, which holds a huge mass of water, which feeds a small lake. It was built for the work of the small HPP "Nemnovo" - the only modern hydraulic structure in the entire Belarusian part Augustow Canal. HPP provides electricity to residents of nearby villages. Nearby, on the island, is the former caretaker's cottage, which is rented for tourists and is designed for a small family.
The Neman is a straight shot
The last station of the waterway is the Nemnovo sluice. Immediately behind it, the channel's ditch runs into the Neman. The sluice is often referred to also with the prefix "most". It is the tallest and largest of its eighteen "fellow"-sluices. Initially, the it was designed as a two-chamber, but in 1833 it grew and a third camera appeared. And during the reconstruction at the beginning of the two thousandth in connection with the lowering of the level of the Neman one more was built. It was the fourth sluice.
You can see here the full power of the hydraulic structure in full glory. Ships and kayaks rise to a height of about ten meters during the sluicing. And this is the height of a three-story house! The process takes about an hour.
The metal gate of the sluice weighs about six tons and is made at the Volkovysk Foundry Equipment Plant. They aren’t easy and wooden: their weight is about two tons.
Near the sluice there is the Ostashanka river, which, with its rapid current and rapids, is similar to mountain rivers and attracts water tourism lovers not only from all over Belarus, but from abroad. Regional and republican outdoor teambuilding events are held on its shores, international competitions in the technology of water tourism. Here is the Nemnovo tourist base, where, under the guidance of Sergei Kolyada, the deputy chairman of the Grodno regional branch of the non-governmental organization "Republican Tourist and Sports Union", an active recreation park was created. You can rent a kayak or bicycle and go on one of the developed routes.
In the village of Nemnovo, next to the sluice, there is a private museum. The exhibits for it in the mid-90's began to collect Tadeusz Urbanyuk, the grandson of the latest lock-maker Ivan Lukshi. When Tadeusz was gone, the collection was taken up by neighbors - the Zazhetsky family, whose ancestors also worked on the channel. The museum has been in their house since 2003. By the way, in the 80s, Zazhetskiy restored the nearby water regulator
The route for every taste
One day is not enough to know the Augustow canal. Those wishing to stay in these places are welcome for a long time in agrohounds in the villages of Radzivilka, Nemnovo, Sonichi, Tartak, Rynkovtsy, Lesnaya. And romantic tourists break tents on the bank of the canal.
A lot of tourist routes have been developed in the area of the Augustow Canal. You can go to explore places, enjoy the untouched nature of the republican sanctuary "Grodno Pushcha" on foot, by bicycle, kayak or boat. Fans of the water element can choose between the alloys of varying degrees of complexity and duration.
There is a lot of interesting on the way to the canal. For example, the forts of the Grodno Fortress of the First World War. In the village of Svyatsk there are the palace and park ensemble of Volovich, built in the late 18th century by Giuseppe Sacco, the Italian architect. The palace is now undergoing repair and restoration work.
And in Radzivilks the guests are greeted by the manor and park complex "Sviatsk Gurskih". The two-hundred-year-old manor received a second life after it was bought by the Bartashevich family in 2011.
In the village of Sopotskin, be sure to visit the place where Easter is all the time. This is a pysanka museum near a local church. And in Zarechanka there is a museum of the Belarusian towel.
The part of the route may also be a visit to the canals located along the right bank. They are the witnesses of the events of the Great