110 years of the town of Puławy

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2016 marks an anniversary of granting Puławy municipal rights in 1906. 110 years ago Nowa Aleksandria (the current name is Puławy) became a town by the decision of the Russian Tzar. The villages of Mokradki and Puławy Zarobne were included in the city limits.

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A historic port in Puławy

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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.

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The history of agronomy in Puławy

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In 1862, following a decision of Count Aleksander Wielopolski, the Agronomic Institute was relocated from Marymont near Warsaw to Puławy. Consequently, Polytechnic, Agriculture and Forestry Institute was created, However, furthering of education and science were not the main reasons for the foundation of the institution.

A preemptive move

The actual motivation for the relocation was the Russian government’s will to dissipate the youth feared to be planning an uprising in Warsaw. Moving part of the students to a place away from the former capital of Poland was meant to stifle such tendencies. The Institute was placed in a palace vacated by the Czartoryscy family. The teaching equipment was transported from Marymont, while locally many farms were operating, and thus it became possible to combine the scientific theory and practice. Among people who knew how to benefit from such conditions was professor Teofil Cichocki, who organized a modern laboratory in Puławy. The lab offered testing of fodder, soil, fertilizers. It also analyzed the spring waters from Nałęczów and Busk.

"PUŁAWY" vs current market trends/fot. photopin.comAnd still the youth were not convinced

After the outbreak of January Uprising in 1863, the students left Puławy and the classrooms were empty. Still, research continued and a few years later lectures could start again. However, in order to stifle the independence movement, in 1869 the school was renamed the Institute of Agriculture and Forestry by Russian Tzar Alexander II. Lessons were now conducted in Russian and the school admitted young students from the whole Russian Empire.

What happened to the Institute

Fortunately, the government interference did not interrupt the development of the institution, which expanded its teaching facilities and initiated research in new fields. One example of such efforts was the first meteorological observatory on the former Polish territory, which was founded in 1871. Despite World Wars and other disruptions, the observatory has been functioning till this day.In 1893 the Institute regained full academic powers. Another milestone in the history of Puławy school was the foundation of the first Department of Soil Science in the world. After the war broke out in 1914, part of the Department’s staff and resources was moved to Kharkov. The Austrian authorities agreed that the remaining facilities be taken over by Agricultural Research Institute, but this institution did not educate students.

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Puławy, the secret history #1

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It is common knowledge that Puławy is a town situated on the Vistula. Another popular fact is that the largest chemical company in Poland is located in Puławy. The place is also famous for its handball team. However, are these all the assets the town has got to offer? We are going to try and present to you all pieces of information about the town history, which might prove interesting. Or at least nearly all.
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Everything flows

Let’s start with a few words about the name. Scientists still haven’t reached an agreement concerning the origin of “Puławy” and none of the explanations has so far been accepted by the majority of linguists. Niezależna Frakcja Potamologiczna favors the theory that the word “Puławy” derives from “pława”, an expression once used by the inhabitants of the region and meaning a buoy for marking shallow water on the Vistula.


However, members of Związek Flisaków II RP and their successors are confident that the name derives from “pławy”, a word referring to the act of crossing the river. Another theory connected with water was put forward by Czesław Wilgotny, Godfather of Mieszko I, the first crowned King of Poland: “It is certain that the origin of the name of this charming city is Slavic “pławia”, meaning a water current”.

An attempt at writing it down

The name of our town was put down on parchment for the first time in the 15th century. The spelling read “Pollavy”. According to local tradition, the author of the name was an amateur scribe, known to be only partly literate and probably suffering from dyslexia. Therefore, the first version of the name ought not to be treated too seriously. At the same time, we ought to appreciate good intentions of the scribe.


The legend of a fat lord

One more explanation of the origin of the word “Puławy” is connected with an anecdote from the life of the upper classes. An aristocrat traveling across the region felt overcome with fatigue and decided to call a halt here. As the settlement on the river did not boast a roadside inn, he took a seat under a magnificent oak tree, whose leaves offered protection from the scorching July sun. Unfortunately, the bench was not strong enough to support the weight of the chubby traveler and the lord fell down to the ground. The story has it that the man, upon getting up with difficulty and cleaning his attire from dust, exclaimed “A niech to będzie pół ławy!, cursing “pół ławy”, or “a half of the feeble bench”.


Fortunately, there are plenty of solid benches in Puławy nowadays, yet not a single true aristocrat. Thus the next episode of our series will feature an interview with Mrs Izabela, a local landlord and a member of the local “Familia”.

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