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Sport and tourism in the nineteenth-century Elbląg

In the nineteenth century, the citizens of Elbląg began to appreciate the pleasures and benefits of sports. As early as 1845, a gymnastics club (Elbinger Turnverein) was founded in Elbląg on the initiative of the mayor A. Philips. Its foundation was undeniably connected with the liberal tendencies of that time. The clubs of this type not only promoted health and wellness, but also spread patriotic and democratic ideas. Rifle clubs had a similar profile. In the seminal year of 1848, there were two such clubs in Elbląg. Due to Elbląg’s geographical location, residents also readily joined groups that popularized water sports and cycling. At the beginning of the twentieth century, sports clubs often had a multidisciplinary profile. For example, the Elbinger Sportverein founded in 1904, which had departments for soccer, athletics, tennis, and hockey. The popularity of sports and outdoor activities was closely linked to the development of tourism. One of the most popular resorts for the Elbląg citizens was Krynica Morska on the Vistula Spit. In 1841, regular steamboat courses were established for tourists visiting the seaside resort in summer. Some people from Elbląg, including Henryk Nitschmann, also discovered the pleasures of other seaside resorts on the Baltic Sea, for example Sopot or Kolibki. They enjoyed exploring the regions around the Vistula Lagoon and the Elbląg Uplands. Their landscapes full of dense forests, winding ravines, streams and remains of Prussian settlements, which could easily be a backdrop for Nitchmann’s Hogia, aroused many romantic feelings. Travel to these regions became easier thanks to the railroad built in the 1890s. For the shorter Sunday excursions, the forests and parks of Bażantarnia on the outskirts of the city were the most popular destination.
On the left: In the second half of the nineteenth century, there were two rowing clubs in Elbląg, Vorwärts and Nautilus. The illustration comes from a songbook published for the Vorwärts club, Liederbuch des Ruderers, Elbing 1908.