About Yotvingians

Once upon a time there was a beautiful land covered with forests that extended from the Neman River to the very Great Mazurian Lakes. A land of Yotvingians, a brave and adventurous people, whose most powerful chief was called Skomand….

Yotvingians began to settle in the lands of the current Suwalki region, densely covered with virgin forests, as early as in the 4th century. Waves of Balts arriving in Yotvingia formed the tribe.

2 AD was the ‘golden era’ of Yotvingian culture.
Mass iron smelting and use of iron weapons and tools, establishment of the Amber Route that stretched from the Roman Empire and Sambia to Mazury and Lithuania had a significant impact on the economy of Yotvingia. Agriculture, handcraft and weaving flourished.

The wealthy tribe lived in settlements created on wooden scaffolding in small bays on lakes that were grown over with plants. Their fortification structures were located on high hills.
About 3 centuries later Yotvingia had a clear administrative and social structure. It was divided into regions with administrative and economic centres in fortified towns. Its economy was developing rapidly.

Archaeological discoveries show that there were wealthy dynasties among Yotvingians. In Szwajcaria (village near Suwałki) graves with jewellery, decorations and silver encrusted weapons, clearly belonging to members of the Yotvingian upper class, were found. In Osinki (lying very close to Szwajcaria) you can visit a kurgan, a Yotvingian burial site, that is 30 m in diameter! It indicates that a crucial settlement was located in the area as the bigger the kurgan, the more important was the deceased.

Faith like magic …

Yotvingian were a polytheistic people who worshiped celestial bodies: the sun, the moon, stars; and natural phenomena: thunders, lighting; and the elements: water and fire. They had soothsayers and snake whisperers to tell their fortunes. They believed in life after death and reincarnation. However, they did not build any temples, but gathered around sacred trees and forests, where their priests guarded eternal fires…

In 1283 the Knights of the Cross captured the Yotvingian fortress located on the Castle Mountain in Szurpily. This event marked the end of Yotvingia.

The legacy of Yotvingians lives up to this day in magical and mysterious geographical names, like
Szurpily, Dowcien, Hancza, Szelment, Gatne, Zelwa, Gremzdy, Pierty, Turtul, Wigry, Waraksa, Kardel, Bilda, Gorlo ….

And in Uroczysko ‘Swiete Miejsce’ (sacret cult spot) by the Rospuda River you will find a wooden chapel with and a wooden cross next to it that despite being burnt and thrown into the river survived and still stands there. The place is surrounded with an aura of mystery. It is also the place where Yotvingians ruled by Skomand were baptized in 1283….

The Suwalki region – a land where nations, cultures and religions mix, full of ethereal memories.

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Villa Skomanda guest house

Konwaliowa 2
16-300 Augustów, PL

Phone: +48 87 644 35 70
Phone/fax: +48 87 643 43 99
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