In the big Polish cities such as Warsaw and Kraków, you rarely find animals other than cats and dogs. Here in Kokoszkowy, deer graze in the fields and farms. They are Polish fallow deer with brown hair and white spots, and you can see them all year round. Head to Plac Zabaw in Kokoszkowy to see some deer and you will notice more as you continue your walk out of the village.
One of the highlights for any visitors to villages such as Kokoszkowy is the landscape and vibrant colours. During springtime, fields in Kokoszkowy turn bright yellow with the growth of rapeseed oil plants. While many of the fields and farms are private, there are some public paths you can walk or cycle along, admiring the beauty. The fields are also very pretty in winter, when the yellow is replaced by gorgeous white snow.
The beauty of Poland’s countryside means you can visit lakes and be alone with nature. Lake Kochanka is the closest lake to Kokoszkowy and can be reached by walking or cycling. Hire a bicycle and scale the lake’s perimeter. The lake has the River Styna running into it. Aside from Poland’s Masury province, the lakes of Kociewie are some of the nicest in the country.
Kościół Rzymskokatolici Swieto Barbary (St. Barbara’s Church) is the main church in little Kokoszkowy. The church dates back to the 14th century and is Roman Catholic. There is a graveyard on the grounds of the church, and the house behind is named after Pope John Paul II. There are regular Masses held, and if you attend, you will probably be the only tourist, as all Masses are held in Polish and attended by locals. Check the church noticeboard for Mass times.
Aside from attending a mass at St. Barbara’s Church, there are a few more interesting things in and around the church itself. From the front it is wooden, yet from the back it is brick, giving the impression that these are two different churches, but they are in fact the same building! If you check the two photos below, they look like different buildings. The cemetery contains graves that display the village’s eclectic past, when German and Polish people lived together long before the wars; many of the headstones still contain German surnames such as Fabich and Mueller.
Szpęgawski Forest on the edge of the village has a pretty grim history. This area was the site of Nazi German mass murders and now houses the graves of around 7,000 Poles from the Kociewie region who were murdered during World War II by Nazi Germans. There is a poignant Holocaust Memorial inside the forest, and the forest makes for another pleasant stroll aside from its history.
Polish villages usually hold an annual fête, and Kokoszkowy has one of the most splendid village fêtes/festivals in the region. It is an outdoor event held in summer featuring the best local food, drinking, dancing and music. The village’s 1,400 residents attend this fun day, which also attracts visitors from other nearby locations such as Pelplin, Skarszewy and Starogard Gdański. Local media also attend the day’s festivities. Decorated straw effigies sit in the garden at the front of the festival.
The Styna River runs through the east part of Kokoszkowy, leading to the region’s lakes. Canoes can be hired, or bring your own and sail down the river. It freezes over in winter months, so this activity is for spring and summer only. Not all parts of the river are safe, but the local tour guide, Pomorskie Travel, has some good information on where to go canoeing.
Kokoszkowy is part of the Kociewie region, which is a culture of its own and one that is really worth exploring. While you can see Kokoszkowy’s art in evidence at the annual fête, attending a Kociewian workshop or doing a cooking or language course is a great idea. There is a local dialect used here, Kociewian, and you can organise a day out where you learn about the handmade baskets, painted Easter eggs (at Easter only, known as pisanka) and straw effigies.