Since 2010 the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography CAMERIMAGE has taken place in Bydgoszcz, the capital of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, located at the mouth of the Brda River into the Vistula. It is one of the largest Polish cities, occupying 10th place among Polish cities in terms of surface area. Bydgoszcz is a very important economic, cultural, academic, military and medical center with an international airport. The city also has a big river port which makes it one of the most significant link in a water system connected via Noteć, Warta, Odra, Elbe with the Rhine and Rotterdam.
Above all, Bydgoszcz is a major center of musical culture. Next to the opera house “Opera Nova” – the CAMERIMAGE festival center – a modern, architecturally interesting building, Bydgoszcz may also boasts the “Ignacy Paderewski’s Concert Hall”, which is famous for its excellent acoustics. It is worth noting that the main ambassador of Bydgoszcz is Rafał Blechacz, a graduate of the Music Academy in Bydgoszcz, winner of the XV International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition. Bydgoszcz is also one of the major centers of the so-called yass music in Poland. Many musicians are associated with famous “Mózg Club” including Kazik Staszewski, Tymon Tymański, Jerzy Mazzol, and Martin Świetlicki.
Bydgoszcz also means a thriving theater scene, represented first of all by the Hieronim Konieczka Polish Theater, which is the initiator of the unique “Festiwal Prapremier”, organized in autumn. In Bydgoszcz, apart from the Polish Theatre, also a number of smaller, private theaters operate. Worth noting are also Centers of Culture with the BWA City Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art at the helm.
Bydgoszcz is also an important tourist center. Especially noteworthy are Old Town, picturesquely situated in the meanders of the Brda River and the Downtown. You can see there a lot of real architectural gems of gothic and baroque (Old Town) as well as so-called historicizing styles such as neo-gothic, neo-renaissance, neo-baroque, modernism and Art Nouveau (Downtown).
Bydgoszcz is a member of the Polish Metropolis Union as a part of the Bydgoszcz – Toruń metropolis with the city of Torun, only 45km away.
Bydgoszcz may boast of many cultural events of international renown. Except for the above mentioned “Festiwal Prapremier”, it is worth to mention the International Piano Competition, Bydgoszcz Opera Festival or the International Toruń-Bydgoszcz Harmonica Bridge Festival. Bydgoszcz is also host to several film festivals: Never seen in Bydgoszcz, AFF-Era Film and OFF-Era Film and since 2010 the CAMERIMAGE Film Festival.
Colonization in regions of today’s city of Bydgoszcz, due to the convenient location of neighboring settlements and ease of crossing over the Brda river started relatively early. Bydgoszcz Castle was an important river crossings point in the Middle Ages, especially for merchants traveling so-called Amber Route. Bydgoszcz obtained the official civic rights through the decision of King Casimir III the Great on April 19, 1346.
Due to its location Bydgoszcz participated in the Polish-Teutonic Wars. During the last of the Wars, in November of 1520, Bydgoszcz was the place of both Diet deliberations with the participation of the King Sigismund I the Old, and a gathering of the mass levy for the War.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Bydgoszcz was one of the most important centers of Polish grain trade. The city was also an important center of handcrafts and place of numerous manufactures. It was in Bydgoszcz where the only functioning mint was located. It was made famous by the largest gold coins minted in Europe, so-called “100 ducats of Sigismund III Vasa”. At that time numerous diocesan, monastic and hospital churches were operating in Bydgoszcz, and also many parish schools and the Jesuit college.
During the time of The Deluge there was also a significant economic and demographic collapse. In turn, during The First Partition of Poland Bydgoszcz was taken over by the Kingdom of Prussia. On October 2 of 1794, under the Kościuszko Uprising, so-called Battle of Bydgoszcz took place, which was fought by the Polish army under the command of General Henryk Dąbrowski.
The economic prosperity has returned to Bydgoszcz in the nineteenth century, which was mainly related to the construction of Bydgoszcz Water Junction, bringing the railways connection to the city and development of metallurgical, machinery, wood and food industries. City of Bydgoszcz was often described as “Little Berlin” because of the noticeable similarity of the architectural development plan of urban expansion in the city.
Officially, Bydgoszcz returned to the boundaries of Poland on 20 January of 1920 under the Treaty of Versailles. During The World War II, in turn, the city witnessed inter alia so-called German diversion in Bydgoszcz (also known as “Bydgoszcz Bloody Sunday”) – Polish units were fighting with the German saboteurs supported by the local German citizens and, as a consequence, in this area increased reprisals against the Polish population has began.
After the war, the capital of Pomeranian Voivodeship has been moved to Bydgoszcz. In the fifties, the city has became an important center of military and later, culture and science. In 1973, after joining the nearby town of Fordon to the city Bydgoszcz, it has began its huge expansion. From 1 January 1999, Bydgoszcz is the seat of Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship governor and province government administration.