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Jezioro Zegrzyńskie

Jezioro Zegrzyńskie Jezioro Zegrzyńskie

It is hard to imagine that it wasn’t there fifty years ago. The second largest reservoir of Mazovia was constructed between 1958 and 1963. The water of the Narew was cut off with the dam in Dębe. The dam is an earth embankment 24 m high. The normal level of water is 7 m, which is enough to create a 33 km² lake in the relatively narrow valley. If necessary, it may hold up to 94m m³ of water. Among the Polish artificial reservoirs, it is the fifth largest in terms of area and twelfth largest in terms of volume.

As the capital is near, the Zegrze reservoir is a popular destination from the early days of spring until late autumn. There is probably no such water sport which wouldn’t have its amateurs here. On hot weekends the surface of the lake becomes white with sails. Many a captain has started off from this point. When the wind is blowing, surfers glide on their boards like colourful butterflies. Speed boats noisily cut through the waves among daring water skiers and amateurs of acrobatics on giant plastic bananas. The water close to the shore is crowded with canoes, paddle and oar boats. In winter the lake gets quiet, but it still shows traces of human activity. When it freezes, amateur ice fishermen squat near holes in the ice, while ice-yachts are tugged out of the hangars. Anyone who has tried ice-sailing will always miss the once experienced sense of freedom.

The Zegrze reservoir is connected to the Vistula by the Żerań canal. It is a popular shortcut to the capital. At its minimal level, the water built up by the dam reaches Pułtusk on the Narew and Popów on the Bug.

Must see

There are many summer resorts on the lakeshores. They are especially popular for their carefree atmosphere and the shanties which resound in waterside bars. Yet there are also attractions for those to whom a cold beer is not enough. Take a walk to the historic oaks of Wąwóz Szaniawskiego, visit the lovely town of Serock, and grab hold of your binoculars at dawn to do some bird watching in the mouth of the Bug.

Before you set off…

Bear in mind that the lake is after all relatively shallow and its bottom is muddy. If the draught of your unit is large, watch out for the buoys on the sailing trail and additional signs – rods which mark the shoals. Since it gets very crowded at weekends, brush up your knowledge of water traffic regulations and try to apply it in practice.

Around the Zegrze reservoir

A day spent here is enough to notice that the lake is clearly divided into three parts. If you seek peace and quiet, visit the area between Dębe and the road bridge in Zegrze. The part between Zegrze in the west and Rynia in the east, commonly know as ‘the frying pan’ (‘Patelnia’) is the busiest section. A narrower strip leading in the direction of the fork of Narew and Bug is considered the most picturesque.


ZalewThe road from Legionowo to Nasielsk leads down the several hundred metre long crown of the dam. From the middle of the embankment a lovely view extends to both sides – over the river and over the lake. Many allotment gardens spread around Dębe. Each year new colonies of summerhouses of Varsavians spring up. Between the routes to Serock and Zegrze, among the allotments, we can distinguish the grey walls of an interesting monument of warfare. The small fort in Dębe was supposed to strengthen the north-west part of the region of the Warsaw Fortress. The fortifications were constructed by Russians at the turn of the 19th and 20th century, as the missing link between the Zegrze and Modlin fortresses. The fort in Dębe is in much better shape than its equivalent in Beniaminów, which dates back to the same period and was designed by the same architect, general Wieliczko.


Some 3.5 km from the dam, on the high north shore is the village of Jachranka, which becomes Skubianka further eastwards. Apart from allotment gardens and summer residences the place is full of holiday resorts. The ones of higher standard often serve as conference centres.

North Water Pipeline

Opposite Jachranka, in Wieliszowo, there is a water intake for the water pipeline which supplies part of the capital. The filtered water flows to the northern districts of Warsaw.

‘Wieliszewskie Łęgi’ reserve

Two kilometres south west of the water pipeline facilities waterlogged meadows stretch to the lakeshore. Have a closer look at the plants which grow here, but do not pick them, as they are under protection. Wieliszewskie Łęgi is the largest collection of orchids in the Warsaw area. One of the species which grow here is Marsh Helleborine,  which have delicate cream-rose petals.

Bridge in Zegrze

Past the meadows on the left bank we can make out the buildings of Zegrze. The modern bridge on the Warsaw-Pułtusk route is clearly visible from afar. The latest crossing of the Narew will comprise two identical bridges. The north was opened in 2003. During the construction work the remains of a wooden German bridge from before the Great War were discovered. The south bridge will replace the characteristic arch bridge which existed until recently. Initially the seventy year old technological monument was meant to be renovated, yet the state of its maintenance put an edge to the project. The stone towers which emerge from the water close to the bridge, belong to an older construction, built by the Russians. The bays close to the bridge are a feeding place of ducks and swans. If yours is a sailing boat you will have to fold the mast.

Zegrze Południowe (South Zegrze)

The south part of Zegrze is a large peninsula which reaches into the water of the lake. A long stretch of sailing resorts await amateurs, where you can rent equipment, sign up for sailing courses, rest in a restaurant or at the beach. The place is popular due to its convenient communication with Warsaw. A 40 minute ride from the Żerań FSO stop on bus number 735 will take you to the centre of Zegrze. The sound-absorbing screens and a busy road separate the other part of the village, occupied by military area, from the water. If you are keen on panoramic views, you can go on a walk across the bridge, which offers and far-reaching view of the central part of the lake, commonly known as ‘the frying pan’ (‘Patelnia’). On sunny days it is impossible to count all the visible sails.


As early as the Middle Ages, an important port and custom house existed on the Narew bank. Accounts from the 15th century mention a castle which was supposed to stand here. On the turn of the 18th and 19th century, thanks to the wooden bridge constructed over the river, Zegrze became a strategic location. After the fall of the January Uprising the tsar authorities built an enormous fortress here. It was planned as part of a stretch of fortifications that were the surround the European part of Russia. The fortifications were reconstructed and reinforced several times and played an important party during World War I. The army is present in Zegrze to this day. For the past 30 years it has been the site of an academy for communications officers, where military IT specialists are now trained. A large harbour is located on the lakeshore.

On a peninsula east of the military area stands a 19th century hunting palace. Its white walls shine between the historic oaks. This is the holiday resort and training centre of the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

Zegrze – Nieporęt

New bars, beaches and harbours spring up each year along the road on the south bank of the Zegrze reservoir, which is devoid of trees. It gets very crowded here on sunny days. The whole lake is clearly visible from here.

Kanał Żerański (Żerań canal)

About 4 km from Zegrze, on the south bank of the reservoir lies the entrance to the Żerański Canal. The seventeen kilometre connection between the lake Zegrze and Warsaw was built between 1960 and 1966. The Royal Canal, designed as early as the 16th century, was supposed to run the same way. The problem of three metres of difference in water level is solved by a sluice gate in Żerań. The channel is not only used for recreational purposes. It is also a waterway for barges that extract gravel from the bottom of Narew.


The large village stretches along the Żerań canal. The constantly emerging new villas bring it closer to Warsaw each year. Once a large forest grew here, in which Polish kings hunted. Zygmunt III Waza built a larch wooden manor here. A baroque church has survived to this day, founded by king Jan Kazimierz in 1651. The coat of arms of the Waza family is engraved in the stone portal. An 18th century bell tower gate leads onto the temple grounds.

Pilawa, Białobrzegi

From the Żerań canal to the mouth of Rządza the east bank of the Zegrze reservoir is full of vacation resorts. The heaviest traffic is in the Nieporęt area. The small bay is a busy yacht port. Many Warsaw clubs have their base here. You can rent equipment, eat dinner, do your shopping and walk among trimmed lawns. An on-water petrol station is available for motorboat owners. The sandy beach on the cape is dominated by surfers. You can rent a surf board and get some professional advice.

Further east you will see a concrete jetty used by passenger ships during the summer. The cruise from the harbour at the foot of the Warsaw Old Town takes three hours and a half.

Most of the facilities also rent water sports equipment. The best restaurant is at the Diana marina.  The resorts in this part of Zegrze are renowned for their sandy beaches and scented pine forests, which extend along the shore. If you’ve had enough of water, go for walk to the imposing fortifications of Beniaminów, ‘twin’ of the Dębe fort.

Rynia, mouth of Rządza

About 6.5 km to the north west of the Żerań canal the small Rządza river flows into the Reservoir from the east. In its mouth lies a wooded isle, called ‘Euzebia’ by its regular visitors. It is a popular destination of fans of water sports as well as animals. A moment of peace and quiet and a stroke of luck is enough to see an otter peek out from the water.
It gets shallow past the island, and a few hundred metres further the Rządza is cut by a bridge.


ZegrzeTrees grow over the high west shore of the Zegrze reservoir. The wind which rebounds off them does strange things to sails. This narrow stretch of the lake requires careful sailing. Hidden from the side of the water is the palace of the Radziwiłł family and the hundred hectare park that surrounds it, one of the most interesting architectural monuments by the lake. Designed by French architect Francois Arveuf it was raised between 1890 and 1892. The style of the residence relates to French architecture of the Renaissance. The plan of the building is unusual because of its many asymmetrically composed forms. Parts of the palace are single-storeyed, parts are two-storeyed. It is based on a foundation of field stones and the facades are covered with red ceramic tiles. The front of the palace includes a two-storeyed square tower. The entire building is covered by a mansard roof with wooden lucarnes, covered by ‘fish scale’ metal sheets. The reconstructed park is similar to its original, divided into baroque and English parts. Presently the palace has been restored to the descendants of the first owners and is not open to the public, but it is possible that it will soon become a hotel.


Amidst the trees on the west shore we can clearly distinguish the light-coloured stone walls of what once served as a riverside campsite for Polish tourist society PTTK. Interesting from the architectural point of view, the place is temporarily abandoned as is slowly turning into a romantic ruin. The campsite was constructed in the fifties on the property of famous playwright Jerzy Szaniawski. The ruins of the writer’s manor lie within the reserve ‘Wąwóz Szaniawskiego’ (‘Szaniawski’s ravine’). The scarp by the bank is under protection, as it is overgrown by historic stands of picturesque oaks and pines.


Perhaps the loveliest town in the reservoir area, it is situated on the north shore, opposite the mouth of the Bug. Its municipal privileges date back to 1417, yet few traces of history have remained among the modern buildings. The square marketplace is a remnant of the erstwhile urban layout.

The most valuable monument is the parish church of the Annunciation. The late Gothic temple, raised upon the request of the dukes of Mazovian Janusz and Stanisław, was reconstructed in 1526. It is a rare example of fortified sacred architecture. The church is single-naved with a characteristic quadrangular tower which shares the same roof with the nave. The baroque decor of the interior dates back to 18th century. Throughout several hundred years of its existence, Serock has more than once found itself in the very eye of the historic hurricane. A projectile from World War I is stuck in the north wall of the church. The temple offers a far-reaching view over the mouth of the Bug.

Serock is very popular among amateurs of water sports, partly due to the fact that the town is clean and well-kept. A lovely park extends between the centre and the lakeshore, while an esplanade runs down the bank.

Islands at the mouth of Bug

Bug and Narew have their confluence close to Serock. Sailing up the latter one is slightly difficult because of the bridge at Wierzbica, upstream of Serock. Three islands located two and half kilometres up the Bug are a popular destination. The waterlogged meadows are home to many birds, like Grey Herons and Swans, which fly low over your head. If you are lucky, you might spot a glove-like nest of a Penduline Tit on a riverside tree.

Useful tips

Useful tourist information for amateurs of water sports:


Nieporęt: Emper Yacht Sp. z o.o., ul. Wojska Polskiego 3, tel. (22) 772 50 00, 509 162 229,; the largest port of the reservoir, boat charter, windsurfing school, motorboat trips, sailing, shop, restaurant and gas station

Zegrze Południowe: Ośrodek Sportów Wodnych „Marina” (one of the three harbours of the Warsaw Rowing Society - Warszawskie Towarzystwo Wioślarskie), ul . Warszawska 1, tel. (22) 793 02 72, 608 341 646; boat charter, bar

Zegrze: Ośrodek Szkoleniowy Wojskowej Akademii Technicznej, ul. Groszkowskiego 2, tel. (22) 688 32 65, faks (22) 688 34 33,

Rynia: Wojskowy Dom Wypoczynkowy, ul. Wczasowa 59, gm. Białobrzegi tel. (22) 768 01 66, (22) 688 28 50,; high standard holiday resort; boat charter, restaurant

Jadwisin: YACHT KLUB POLSKI, ul. Konstantego Radziwiłła 2, tel. (22) 519 190 545; safe harbour of long-standing tradition, boat charter on previous arrangement with boatswain

Warsaw: Academia Nautica – Licencjonowana Szkoła Żeglarstwa (Licensed Sailing School), ul. Lentza 35, tel. (22) 651 90 35,; sailing and motorboat degree courses, including ice sailing helmsman license

Warsaw: Wandrus, Biuro Turystyki Aktywnej, ul. Nowy Świat 18/20, tel. (22) 828 34 24, faks (22) 828 34 52,; sailing and motorboat degree training courses

Warsaw: water tram,; cruises from Warsaw to Zegrze lake on ‘Zefir’ boat; advance ticket sales: Punkt Obsługi Pasażera ZTM (ZTM passenger service) at Metro Centrum station

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