9 June 1999 the
Land received a prominent guest – Pope John Paul II. To commemorate this visit, a trail was marked out which followed the route covered by the Bishop of Rome on board a ship of Żegluga Augustowska.
The trail starts at the Oficerski Yacht Club “Pacific” resort where the Pope awaited the ship named “Serwy”. This event is commemorated by a monument – the “Armchair” – erected after the papal visit.
The route then leads through the locks in Przewięź and Swoboda locks to Gorczyca, where the Papal Trail ends. During the trip the passengers experience the lockage, they can visit the Marian Shrine in Studzieniczna (where the late Pope prayed in the chapel), and see the monument of John Paul II situated on the shore of Lake Studzieniczne, with an inscription quoting his famous words: “I have been here many times but as Pope – for the first time, and probably the last”.
Most cruises following the Papal Trail start in the Żegluga’s Harbour, then the passenger ship passes by the “Pacific” resort, and through the Przewięź lock to
Studzieniczne, where it turns around and returns to Augustów. Some cruises allow the passengers time to get off board and visit the shrine. The ship stops there for half an hour and then heads off to the Harbour. The same route can be followed by means of smaller vessels such as a gondola or canoe.
In commemoration of the papal visit in the Augustów Land and in thanks to John Paul’s contribution to the World Youth Day, for the last few years the “Papal Triathlon” has been held here. It is also a great way to popularise sports such as canoeing, cycling, and running, and to promote the Augustów region.
In 2005 the Augustów Tourist Organisation was awarded the “Product of the Year” award by the Polish Tourist Organisation for the project “
Canal – the Papal Trail”.