Set in the peaceful, lush environment of the region of Kurpie, Nowogrod forms an excellent starting point for exploring the Kurpiowska Primeval Forest. There are numerous hiking trails leading through forests, meadows and fields that are so typical of the region. Furthermore, a stay in Nowogrod is a great opportunity to become acquainted with the colourful folklore of Kurpie.
Traditional forms of Kurpie folk art, such as architecture, carving, ornaments, weaving and cut-outs, can all be found in the small town of Nowogrod. Old customs are very much alive here through songs and dances, while the local dialect remains in common usage. It is best to visit Nowogrod at the beginning of July, when the National Day of Culture of Kurpie is held, a major tourist attraction featuring performances of folk groups and sessions of story telling.
A must while in Nowogrod is a visit to the interesting outdoor museum, known as a ‘skansen’ in Polish, scenically located on beautiful river terraces. Within an area of 4.5 ha there are 18 large buildings as well as some less imposing examples of the local architecture. Apart from the museum, landmarks in the town include a historic parish church with a presbytery from the 15th century, and a Second World War tank located atop a hill overlooking the Narew River. In the vicinity of the town, several Polish combat shelters from 1939 still surviving.
With a large number of rivers and streams, the region around Nowogrod provides ideal conditions for all kinds of water sports, kayaking in particular (on the Pisa and Narew Rivers).
Nowogrod is located in the western part of the Podlaskie Voivodship, in Lomza County, 17 km from the city of Lomza and on provincial road no 645 from Lomza to Myszyniec. It has a population of about 2,000 within an area of 2,955 ha.
An apparent advantage of the town is its picturesque location on a high cliff in the Lower Narew Valley, right at the spot where the Pisa River flows into the Narew. The two rivers link the Vistula River with the Great Masurian Lakes. Along the bank of the Narew opposite Nowogrod can be found the Kurpiowska Primeval Forest.
The first defensive settlement at the junction of the Pisa and Narew Rivers was established in the 9th century and remained in existence at least until the 12th century. Archaeological findings show that the original settlement was located on the opposite bank of the Narew from where it is situated now.
In the 12th century, on the high bank of the Narew, at the current site of the ‘skansen’, a new defensive settlement with wooden-ground fortifications was built. During the reign of King Kazimierz the Great a brick castle appeared on Ziemowit Hill, one of the first castles in the region. Nowogrod was first mentioned in the year 1355 in a grant of Warsaw land from King Kazimierz the Great to Ziemowit III. In 1375 Ziemowit III conveyed Nowogrod to his son, Janusz I the Older.
The settlement’s seal dates from 1320 and constitutes proof of the existence of a castellan’s castle. Only in 1472 did Nowogrod receive town rights, from Janusz I. For some time afterwards it was a bustling town, with thriving trade and crafts, but this ‘golden age’ of Nowogrod ended during the Swedish wars. In the second half of the 19th century Nowogrod changed its character and became an agricultural town.
The inhabitants of Nowogrod and its environs have always been ardent patriots, taking part in the Kosciuszko Uprising in 1794, the Napoleonic Campaign in the first half of the 19th century, the November Uprising in 1832 and the January Uprising in 1863, each time demonstrating impressive courage and bravery. To punish the citizens for their participation in the January Uprising, the Russian authorities took away the town rights, which were not regained before 1918.
For three months during the First World War, the Russian-German front lay on the Narew River near Nowogrod, as a result of which the town was 70% destroyed. Nowogrod was defended not only by the heroic soldiers of the 205th regiment of the infantry, but also the academic youth from the Warsaw Polytechnic and Warsaw University.
The fierce battles for Nowogrod in 1939 brought almost complete destruction to the town. In the course of several days a group of 800 defenders struggled to repel a German division consisting of several thousand soldiers. Although the fighting was heavy and there were losses on the German side, the Nazis finally entered Nowogrod. In recognition of the inhabitants’ bravery, in 1978 the town was awarded the Grunwald Cross, 3rd class.