Near the Baltic Sea, nestled among the lakes and hills, Wejherowo is a town rich in historic monuments testifying to its long history. While in this spiritual capital of the Kaszuby region, no one should miss the 350-year-old Wejherowo Calvary, the country’s third oldest sanctuary of the Passion. Further, the town serves as an ideal starting base to experience the attractions of the larger seaside cities, namely Gdynia, Gdansk and Sopot.
Wejherowo is an important centre of pilgrimage in the region of Pomerania. The first service was conducted in 1652 in the monastic church of St. Ann, erected in the years 1648-1650 and located close to the town hall. In its superb late-Baroque interior, worshippers and tourists alike have a chance to admire the painting of the Virgin Mary of Wejherowo, which was crowned by Pope John Paul II.
Also, the town of Wejherowo is a charming place in terms of its attractiveness to anyone who loves nature. There are numerous monuments of nature hidden in the town and in the old century cemetery along 3 Maja Street. What is more, the cemetery is a site of historical relevance as it preserves some structures from the 19th century.
Prominently situated on the marketplace, the town hall in Wejherowo was built in 1650, although its present appearance is the result of an 18th century makeover. Wandering around the marketplace, one can spot a number of sacred buildings, and of these, the church of St. Leon deserves special attention. The one located the closest to the town hall is the Holy Trinity church, and while it dates back to 1643 it has been reconstructed time and time again, the last time in 1927.
Wejherowo is a home town of popular young Polish writer, Dorota Maslowska.
Wejherowo has an advantageous location in the heart of the Kaszuby region, between Szczecin and the conurbation of the three coastal cities of Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot. More accurately, it lies 20 km from Gdynia with its ferry harbour, 30 km from the seaside resorts of Jastrzebia Gora and Karwia, and 40 km from Gdansk airport. Getting to Gdynia, Gdansk and Sopot poses no problem since Wejherowo is linked by the SKM (fast suburban railway line) and, in addition, by a highway to Gdansk and Sopot. All this makes Wejherowo a very convenient base for an excursion to Gdansk. Through the town runs international route E-28 (national road no 6), the Gdansk-Szczecin-Berlin road, as well as a railway line.
The town’s history is closely associated with the house of Wejhers. In May 1643 King Wladyslaw IV consented to the establishment of a settlement called Wola Wejherowska. It was founded by the governor of Malbork Province, Jakub Wejher. As the settlement developed very quickly then only seven years later, in January 1650, King Jan Kazimierz raised Wola Wejherowska to the status of a town. This is how the only private town in Pomerania (besides Topolno, which before long lost its town status) and at the same time the last town established according to the Chelm law came into being. King Jan III Sobieski confirmed the town rights in 1696.
In order to thank God for saving his life during the battle of Biala during Polish-Russian wars, Jakub Wejher erected two shrines (St. Ann’s and the Holy Trinity churches) in the newly founded settlement. He brought in Franciscan Fathers, raised a monastery and established the Calvary of Wejherowo. The 26 chapels that the latter comprised were either created by Jakub Wejher or by his relatives and friends. It is interesting to note that the distances between these chapels are the same as the distance that Jesus Christ had to traverse to Golgotha in Jerusalem. With the foundation of the Calvary of Wejherowo, the town’s economy received a considerable and much-needed boost.
Despite numerous storms throughout its history, Wejherowo managed to retain its growth and in 1772 the town had 565 inhabitants. Following the first partition of Poland, the region of Pomerania fell under Prussian rule, at which point Wejherowo was renamed ‘Neustadt’. In the 19th century the town was continuing to develop quite rapidly due to two main factors – the establishment of the administrative district of Wejherowo in 1818 and the opening of the railway line between Gdansk and Szczecin. At that time, an increasing number of settlers began moving into the region and in Wejherowo itself. On the other hand, in the second half of the 19th century many Jewish families from Wejherowo were emigrating to Syracuse in New York, among them the famous theatrical family of the Schuberts. In 1920, after 148 years of foreign rule, Wejherowo was finally returned to the territory of Poland.
About 16,000 people were living there just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. The Germans exterminated almost entire Jewish population of the town during the war, and a number of the other local Poles shared their fate. In 1939, the village of Piasnica Wielka, located not far from Wejherowo, witnessed the mass shooting of as many as 12,000 Poles.
These days Wejherowo is a town that looks to the future and is one of the jewels of the Baltic coast.