Although Bydgoszcz is bigger and nearly as old as Torun, it has long been in the shadow of its neighbour. Although both cities are very close to each other and share some history, Torun was always considered more interesting than Bydgoszcz. Bydgoszcz simply lacked what its rival has: Old Town that survived the war and world-famous person – Nicolaus Copernicus to be associated with.
But recently the situation changes – Bydgoszcz started to invest in the city centre and renovate historical (not medieval, though) buildings, interesting museums were opened, which resulted in mentioning Bydgoszcz as one of the top destinations in Poland. And indeed, Bydgoszcz is worth visiting, and if you are still in doubt, below you’ll find a list of top things to do in Bydgoszcz.
Bydgoszcz Old Town
Although Bydgoszcz Old Town is very small, it is very beautiful. Don’t expect to see here old brick churches or walls, you’ll find here mainly XIXth century buildings. In addition to the Main Square, which is in the heart of the Old Town, another significant part of Bydgoszcz Old Town is the Brda river waterfront and Mill Island. But interesting architecture in Bydgoszcz is not limited to the Old Town. Gdanska Street and Adama Mickiewicza street are only two examples of many more streets worth going along and looking at tenement houses. You may choose to see them on your way to the Archer Lady statue.
Mill Island and Rother Mills
Mill Island is one of the most picturesque places in Bydgoszcz. It is now the cultural centre of Bydgoszcz, with a grass square prepared to host outdoor events and Opera Nova in the proximity. There are several museums on the Island, including Bydgoszcz Treasure and Mint and the gallery of Leon Wyczolkowski, Polish painter, but if you are not really into museums, you may rent a pedalo in the marina. But it is also worth staying on the island for a bit more, as among the top things to see in Bydgoszcz Mill Island is Rother Mills, until it’s possible to enter.
Top things to do in Bydgoszcz – visiting Rother Mills
Rother Mills dominate the Island – these are the biggest buildings there. Built in 1840, they were operating until the 90s of the XXth century. Now they are the property of the city and are in the process of being transformed into an exhibition centre. But until it is open, it is still possible to make a tour through the mill. It is definitely worth visiting before it opens.
Bydgoszcz Cathedral is one of the few gothic buildings in Bydgoszcz. It is located between the Mill Island and the Main Square. Its construction started in 1346, but as it was primarily made of wood, it soon was destroyed by fire. The works started again in 1425, this time with brick as the construction material. The most valuable masterpiece of the Cathedral is “Mary with the Rose” painted in the XVth century by an unknown painter.
Museum of soap and the history of dirt
This is a unique museum in Poland or even in Europe, and definitely should be placed on the list of top things to see in Bydgoszcz. The visit to the museum starts with soap making workshop (work hard on your soap, as keep it after the workshop), and then you walk around the museum with a guide (guided tours in English start at 11:30, 13:00, 14:30 and 16:30, you may choose language while reserving ticket). It is necessary to book a ticket well in advance.
Exploseum, the former nitroglycerine factory DAG Fabrik Bromberg is located in the outskirts of Bydgoszcz. It was built in 1939 and produced TNT and nitroglycerine for the German Army trying to conquer the Soviet Union. It was also hell for over 40 thousand forced workers who had to work in the factory. After the war, the compound was plundered by the Soviet Army and abandoned.
In 2008 part of the former factory was transformed into a museum. Inside you’ll see several exhibitions – from the biography of Alfred Nobel (the inventor of nitroglycerine), history of explosives, to history of production and sabotage during the Second World War.
Visits to the museum are available Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am till 6 pm, the last admission is at 5 pm. It takes about two hours to see the whole exhibition.
To get to Exploseum (Alfred Nobel Street) you need a car, taxi or take the bus 55 and change to bus 68.
The Archer Lady
The archer lady is one of the symbols of Bydgoszcz. The naked statue realised by Ferdinand Lepcke used to be a source of the embarrassment of puritans, but those times are gone and now it stands in the centre of Jan Kochanowski Park, vis a vis the Theatre. There are four copies of the statue in Germany