Augustow Canal is an outstanding hydraulic engineering installation of the 19th century, one of Europe’s largest canals, which has been included onto the preliminary UNESCO World Heritage List.
History of Augustow Canal
There are only three canals like this in the world: Caledonian Canal in the UK, Gota Canal in Sweden, and Augustow Canal, which is located in Poland and Belarus.
In the 19th century this artificial waterway connected the basins of the Vistula River and the Neman River, enabling access to the Baltic Sea in the north and to the Black Sea in the south.
However the canal stayed an important transport waterway for transporting wood and merchandise for a short time. Since the canal is located in most picturesque places it has become a tourist attraction. The first hiking tour along the canal took place in 1909.
Reconstruction of Augustow Canal
In 2004-2006 the Belarusian section (22km) of the canal was completely restored. Specialists restored the waterway, which had not been used since the 1950s, fixed washed-out and caved areas, ancient hydraulic engineering installations.
Many components – sluices and commemorative tablets bearing names of the designers, wooden columns, and draw bridges – were restored manually and now look authentic.
Augustow Canal at present
Nowadays the Belarusian part of the ancient canal has five regulator sluices, two dams, and four shipping sluices Nemnovo, Dombrovka, Volkushek and Kuzhinets.
Augustow Canal’s largest sluice is the four-chamber sluice Nemnovo, which is 9.6km long.
Augustow Canal is an excellent place for active recreation, water, hiking and bicycle tourism. The picturesque places attract thousands of visitors.
The canal crosses the territory of the Belarusian landscape reserve Grodnenskaya Pushcha. It is one of the most environmentally pristine places of Belarus and the continent and a standard of plains in Central Europe.
In the center of the reserve is the Augustovskaya Pushcha, which is one of Europe’s largest forests located in Belarus, Poland, and Lithuania and contending for the status of a UNESCO transboundary biosphere reserve.
The place offers a lot to fans of active recreation:
- tours on board of motor ships and on board of boats with and without sluicing;
- catamaran ships and boats for rent;
- kayaking (groups are made up in Grodno to go on a captivating tour along the canal);
- hiking and bicycle tours (an eco-friendly cycling track is available along the canal);
- well-furnished places for recreation, a caretaker house, and a compact hotel.