“(….) it is good to know a foreign things, but your own – it is an obligation”
Zygmunt Gloger (1845-1910)
Polish historian, archaeologist,
geographer and ethnographer
A bit of history and a few words about us
In December 1906, on the initiative of Aleksander Janowski, Kazimierz Kulwieć and Zygmunt Gloger, the Polish Sightseeing Society was established in Warsaw.
One might say the impossible became possible. At a time when the word Poland was being wiped out of the map of Europe, an organization which carries this word in its name and whose purpose was to awaken, promote and maintain national consciousness and tradition was being created.
Its first president was Zygmunt Gloger – an outstanding historian, archaeologist, ethnographer, tourist and folklorist, and above all, a patriot and social activist.
The keynote of the Polish Touring Society: „the knowledge of the country for its love, the love of the country for the sacrificial deeds” quickly won the promoters and less than two years later, on March 22, 1908, on the initiative of 13 people, the first “Organizational Meeting” is established in Siedlce. The interim board, headed by Jarosław Chełmiński, led to the convening of the “First General Meeting of Members” on November 22, 1908, entrusting the position of the President of the Board to priest prelate Joseph Scipio del Campo.
Who exactly was the first president of the Branch of the Polish Touring Society in Siedlce, you can find out more in the article of the jubilee edition of “Barbakan”. Here, for visitors to this website, I will just point that priest prelate Joseph Scipio del Campo was the builder of the Siedlce cathedral, a man of extraordinary personality, a great social activist enjoying universal respect among both the elite and the common people.
“One of the first duties of a citizen is, without contradiction, to know one’s country thoroughly…. To awaken national self-knowledge by acquainting oneself with everything concerning the country, its history, monuments, flora, fauna, archeology and ethnography, industry and trade, and examine it under in terms of science – this is the broad and far-reaching goal of the Society.
In order to achieve this goal, to pay tribute to our feelings at least in a small part to this area of the country, which is beautifully called Podlasie, we established the Siedlce branch of the Polish Tourist Society. ”
The above quoted excerpts from the appeals of the founders of the Branch of the Polish Tourist Society in Siedlce, addressed to the city’s inhabitants, refer directly to the motto taken from Gloger’s thought and reflect the ideas of PTK (eng. PTS), whose heir of tradition, ideological achievements, legal successor and continuator is the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society.
Over the years, the once elite organization has become widespread and mass gathering people of a wide age range, education from elementary to professors, which has brought new challenges and new tasks. The phenomenon of this organization is that with such a diverse environmental profile, everyone can cooperate with each other in achieving the goals and tasks of PTTK (eng. PTSS).
One of these tasks is to cultivate tourist traditions, popularize the history and achievements of PTTK. This task was the basis for organizing, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Branch of the Polish Touring Society in Siedlce, on November 22, 2008, the Congress of Sightseeing under the honorary patronage of His Excellency, Bishop Professor Zbigniew Kiernikowski – a member of PTTK, Mr. Zygmunt Wielogórski – the Staroste of Siedlce, Mr. Wojciech Kudelski – the Mayor of Siedlce – a member of PTTK and a tourist guide and his Magnificence prof. dr hab. Antoni Jówko – rector of the University of Podlasie, and since 2010 of the University of Natural Sciences and Humanities.
The solemn Congress began with the Holy Mass in the Siedlce cathedral celebrated by Pr. Bishop Dr. Henryk Tomasik in concelebration with the chaplain of the Siedlce Branch, Pr. Jerzy Grochowski and Pr. M. Chomiuk. During the solemn mass the branch’s banner and the two plaques commemorating Pr. Józef Scipio del Campo – co-founder and first president of the Branch of the Polish Tourist Society in Siedlce, were blessed. One plaque was placed in the cathedra in Siedlce. The twin one was placed in the only chapel in Poland dedicated to PTTK, in the Church of Mother of God, Help of Christians in Warsaw’s Chomiczówka.
The participants of the jubilee celebrations also had the opportunity to visit the exhibition devoted to the history of PTK and PTTK in Siedlce organized at the Regional Museum in Siedlce, and the beautifully restored Ogiński Palace. The guests at the Palace were welcomed by Stanisław Wróblewski’s band with the “Przesmyczanki” Ensemble
Extremely interesting lectures were given by: His Excellency, Pr. bp prof. Zbigniew Kiernikowski, who spoke about the importance of tourism in education, and Col. Stanisław Czajka, who presented the role of Siedlce in the history of the Republic of Poland.
During the celebrations there were many decorations and distinctions, there was also a ceremonial concert with a medley of patriotic and tourist songs, a tourist feast and a ball in the hotel “Versailles of Siedlce”, so the proverbial “something nice for everyone”.
During the Congress, membership cards were also handed out to new guides and pilots of PTTK, most of whom currently operate in the Club of Local Guides.
Over 150 people took part in the jubilee celebrations, including honorary patrons, the authorities of the Siedlce poviat headed by Mr. Zygmunt Wielogórski – the Staroste of Siedlce, the authorities of the City of Siedlce with Mr. Wojciech Kudelski – the president of the City of Siedlce, Honorary Members of PTTK in the persons of Col. Tadeusz Martusewicz, Col. Konrad Bielecki, the supreme authorities of PTTK in the persons of: Col. Tadusz Sobieszek – president of the Main Audit Committee of PTTK, members of the PTTK Main Arbitration Court with the president (author of this text) and vice-presidents of the Court of Col. Janusz Satora and Col. Wojciech Tomalak, Col. Andrzej Gordon – General Secretary of the PTTK Board, who is Honorary Member of PTTK since 2009, Col. Wojciech Koprowski – President of the Board of the Mazovian Board of the PTTK Forum, member of the Board of PTTK and representatives of friendly Branches and institutions.
Recalling the jubilee celebrations, I must admit that it was with undisguised emotion that I opened the Congress on the November 22, 2008, because it was exactly on that day, but 100 years earlier, and probably not in such a beautiful scenery, that the meeting of the founders of the Polish Tourist Society (PTK) in Siedlce took place.
This first meeting was held at the seat of the Land Credit Society, which also lent its premises for the seat of the Branch over the following years.
Perhaps I devote too much space to this history information. After all, the 100th anniversary is already also a history. However, there are few organizations that can boast a 100-year tradition. Such a jubilee provokes reflection and makes us remember those who have made a proud mark on the pages of this 100-year history. And they undoubtedly include Pr. Prelate Józef Scipio del Campo, Mieczysław Asłanowicz, Józef Mikulski, Stanisław Krasuski, Antonii Winter, Maria Żybura – Honorary Member of PTTK, Jan Trętowski and many, many activists who, as in the past, and now implement the statutory goals of the Society.
The branch of the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society operating in Siedlce, bearing the name “Podlasie” since 1984, is also a continuator of the ideals guided by its first members when establishing the Society. Therefore, in his social and everyday work, he tries to be a teacher of his home country.
Contests of historical knowledge, broadly understood sightseeing, ecology and nature protection are a permanent element of the events organized by the Branch.
Currently, the activities of the Department focus on the very broadly understood promotion of the region, popularizing and cultivating regional traditions and cultural heritage, teaching history, educating young people in the spirit of respect for nature, popularizing qualified tourism and sightseeing.
This purpose is served by the annual rallies permanently entered in the calendar of events, among others „On the anniversary of the battle of Iganie”, „Rajd im. Józefa Mikulskiego”, „PTTK Dzieciom”, „Rajd Nadbużański” combined with“ Cleaning the World ”, rallies „Szlakiem Podlaskie”, „Szlakiem Mikulskiego ”, „Christmas Eve in Podlasie ”, eloquent competitions and „Let’s meet our Homeland”, Polish Youth Tourist and Sightseeing Tournaments, lectures, trainings, regional councils, publishing activities and many others.
The branch is the publisher of, among others, two guides: „Siedlce. Guide ”and „Powiat Siedlecki and the surrounding area. Bicycle routes “. Unfortunately, the first one is already out of print, and the second one will soon share the fate of the first one, which poses another challenge for the Department to raise funds for the much-needed publications.
As the editor of the above-mentioned publications, they must admit that it is not an easy task, as it involves the overcoming of many difficulties, and besides, it always leaves the feeling that “maybe it was possible to do it better”.
Within the branch, there is the Regionalna Pracownia Krajoznawcza which can be translated in english as the Regional Sightseeing Workshop, where the collections of the sightseeing books and other materials are being collected. Many of them are used by our tour guides, students and everyone who wants to deepen their knowledge about the region and the surrounding area.
The branch bases its activities mainly on the social work of its members. It is thanks to social work that the statutory goals of the Society are achieved. The activists who stand out at work are members of the Branch authorities, presidents and members of the boards of the clubs operating in the Branch.
The activities of the branch also promote a healthy lifestyle through active recreation.
Our events more and more often attract tourists from all over Poland and the “Christmas Eve evenings in Podlasie” are a telling example of this.
The branch also organizes flagship nationwide events of the Society. On the initiative of the branch’s activists, the 1st National Lowland Rally of PTTK Guides was organized in 1997, which was permanently included in the calendar of cyclical nationwide events.
In 1998, the Branch was the organizer of the Nationwide Pre-Congress of Sightseeing under the name: “Podlasie – our little Homeland”. In 2007, the 47th National Training Rally of Cycling Tourism Leaders took place in Siedlce, as a result of which over 400 cyclists traveled on our bicycle paths in the region for 7 days.
In the years 2006-2010, Polish National Bicycle Pilgrimages to Jasna Góra took place in Częstochowa, and in July 2011 the 6th National Bicycle Pilgrimage was planned. The main organizer of nationwide bicycle pilgrimages, which attract more and more young people, is Pr. dr Jerzy Grochowski – chaplain of the PTTK Branch in Siedlce.
The branch as a member of the Mazowieckie Forum of PTTK Branches twice organized the Multidisciplinary Tourists’ Meetings of the Mazowieckie Voivodeship (in Chlewiska and Siennica) and the Regional OMTTK Eliminations (Mokobody).
The social work of the members of the Siedlce branch of PTTK focuses mainly on the promotion of the region. We believe that the sightseeing methods, which we use in everyday social work, can serve the development of the town, mainly Siedlce Land, but not only here, because, according to the statute, we operate throughout Poland. We are also trying to make people more aware of the benefits that can be derived for the region from incoming tourism.
We are co-founders of the Mazovian Forum of PTTK Branches and the Mazovian Regional Tourist Organization, as well as a member of the Bug Local Tourist Organization.
Showing the cultural richness of the Siedlce region, or the sightseeing values of the Bug River Valley, strengthens our conviction that you must always and everywhere, here and now, be yourself, do not forget about your roots, and proudly cultivate the tradition and culture of the always hospitable Podlasie, including Siedlce. Hence, as the motto of our jubilee congress for now and for the future, we quoted Cyprian Kamil Norwid „(…) but to measure the future path, we must remember where we came from.”
On March 6, 2011, the 20th Congress of the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society “Podlasie” Branch in Siedlce chose new authorities.
The newly elected Management Board was entrusted with the function of the President of the Management Board by Col. Wojciech Chwedczuk – a long-term member of the Management Board of the Branch, and recently the Vice-President of the Management Board. Col. Krystyna Anusiewicz was elected the President of the Audit Committee, and Jan Waszczuk – the President of the Peer Court.
I wish the new authorities good cooperation and satisfaction with their often difficult, social work, and I wish the President of the Management Board the continuation of the idea of multigenerational work on getting to know their homelands, their history and traditions, care for the protection and love of native nature, those values and tasks that are inscribed in the program of PTK and PTTK was carried out in the 100-year history of the Division of PTK and PTTK in Siedlce and that the subsequent pages of the chronicles of our Branch should only abound in events worthy of commemoration. In these memorable events, I declare my help and support.