Suwalki is characterised by its classicistic architecture, its wide streets and low, two storey houses. There are ancient churches to be seen, along with museums and beautiful parks where you can enjoy a pleasant moment or two, or more! Its location makes the town an excellent jumping-off point for excursions to Lake Wigry and other attractive areas of the Suwalki Lake District and the Masuria Lakeland. In the vicinity of Suwalki there are numerous nature reserves, natural sights, rivers and two primeval forests that create countless opportunities for recreation and leisure activities.
Suwalki’s attraction lies primarily in its beautiful surroundings, but the town has also some historical value, such as its layout being preserved in accordance with the plans from 1825. Most of the representative buildings stand along the main street, once part of the Kaunas route from Warsaw through Kaunas to St. Petersburg. Lined with a lot of classicist buildings worthy of a closer look, this road is now known as Kosciuszki Street and still functions as the principal artery for the town. A trip into the historic section of Suwalki reveals classicist designs typical of 19th century architecture, used for sacral and secular buildings alike.
In the heart of the town are two little parks and also the Arkadia Lake, all providing many recreational opportunities. Ethnic diversity is yet another feature that makes Suwalki unique: besides Poles the town’s population includes Lithuanians, Gypsies, Russians and Jews.
One of the busiest commercial zones in Podlaskie Voivodship, Suwalki is a town situated in northeastern part of Poland some 30 km south-west of the border with Lithuania. It has a permanent population of 69,100 living over an area of 65.5 km2. Extending along the Czarna Hancza River, Suwalki lies at an altitude of 170-190 meters above sea level.
Rich in moraine hills and postglacial lakes, the area is frequently compared to remote Scandinavia. Due to the severe winters that can last over four mouths, and often with very low temperatures, people call it the cold pole of Poland – while Suwalki itself is known as the coldest town in the country. The climate here exhibits the typical features of a continental climate – very low temperatures in winter and relatively high ones during the summer.
Back in 1688, Suwalki was a little village situated on a major trade route connecting Grodno and Merecz with Koenigsberg. The settlement was established by Camaldolese monks from the Wigry monastery, to whom King John Casimir of Poland gave the land there for the future town. Suwalki’s first mention dates from 1688. In 1710 King August II the Strong granted the privilege of holding markets and fairs in Suwalki, and in 1720 gave it city rights based on the Magdeburg Law model.
Following the Partitioning of Poland in 1794, Suwalki and the surrounding area were incorporated into Prussia. The new authorities made the Camaldolese monks abandon their monastery in Wigry, and thus in 1800 Suwalki ceased to be a monastic town. In 1807 it became part of the recently formed Duchy of Warsaw, and before long a new city hall was erected, all the streets were paved and the town’s centre was converted into a pleasure park.
As a result of the Congress of Vienna, Suwalki became an integral part of the Kingdom of Poland. In 1816 it was made the seat of the Augustow Voivodship and went on to become the seat of the province after 1837.
Additionally, in 1820 a new church was raised and in the following year the first synagogue was completed. During the period 1806 to 1827 Suwalki’s population nearly tripled. In 1835 a police station was opened, as well as Orthodox and Protestant churches. Shortly afterwards a new marketplace, the St. Peter’s and Paul’s hospital and a new college were all inaugurated. Furthermore, in the years 1840-1849 the main Catholic church underwent renovation under the hands of some of the outstanding architects of the period, such as Piotr Aigner, Antonio Corazzi and Enrico Marconi.
During the inter-war period, Suwalki existed as an autonomous town within the Bialystok Voivodship. Suwalki flourished during this era, as it ceased to be an agricultural centre and assumed the character of a town dependent on trade and commerce. In 1931 saw the opening of the new water works as well as a power plant. Also, Suwalki was home to one of the largest garrisons in Poland.
During the Second World War Suwalki was incorporated into East Prussia. After the liberation, the devastated town found it difficult to recover.