A historic port in Puławy
The first mention about the existence of Puławy goes back to the 15th century. At first the settlement was called Pollawy, while the present shape of the name became widely used in early 16th century. In the 17th century Lubomirscy Family became the owners of Puławy village, while in the 18th century the land was taken over by Czartoryscy Family, under whose governance Puławy flourished. This was possible thanks to an important asset of the town: a port on the Vistula river.
Important trade route
One of the main trade routes on the Polish territory ran along the Vistula for centuries. The river was used for the transportation of resources and food, mainly cereals. Goods were shipped along the Vistula all the way to Gdańsk, where they were exported by sea. With the rapid trade development in the 16th century, the demand for ports with large and efficient cargo handling capacity surged. One of such hubs was built in Puławy, and was quick in becoming a key transhipment point along the Vistula.
Life around a port
Czartoryscy Family made considerable investments to develop the port in Puławy. Trading cereals generated considerable revenue and the clan built an impressive fleet of over 10 ships. Life was abuzz around the port, in the 18th century in particular. “Pod Pielgrzymem”, the legendary local tavern, welcomed new patrons, who included rafters, merchants, messengers and ship captains. Cargo transported by land from all over Lublin area was stored in the port. Deals were made, crews were recruited, ships were loaded, goods were exchanged and the situation in the country was discussed.
A new dimension of sailing
In the 19th century the port expanded its functions and began to serve ship passengers. Specialized companies organizing cruises on Puławy-Warszawa route appeared. One of such businesses was founded by Maurycy Fajans. In 1911 he launched “Pan Tadeusz”, the largest passenger steamship in Poland.
In the early 20th century there was not only a port, but also a shipyard in Puławy. Once Poland regained independence in 1918, the dockyards were taken over by State Waterways Supervisory Office in Warsaw. There was more and more traffic on the river, and both passenger and cargo ships arrived at Puławy port. The riverbed was deepened, so as to increase the capacity of the route and to make it more navigable. River transportation and stockyard industry thrived until the outbreak of World War II in 1939. The ships stationed at the port at the moment were sunk. Following the war, ideas did appear to use Puławy port’s potential for transportation purposes. However, all initiatives of this kind failed to become implemented.