Gacek, a plump black-and-white feline, has become an internet sensation and a must-see attraction for cat lovers visiting the Polish city of Szczecin. And since we are cat lovers here at Fotostrasse, we had to go to Poland to see him once we heard about this story.
For a weekend at the end of winter 2023, we took our cameras and our love for cats to Poland and went looking for Gacek, Szczecin’s Top Tourist Spot. It was our first time in the city since 2018, and we loved returning.
But who is Gacek?
Gacek has lived for over a decade in a small open-fronted wooden box on Kaszubska Street, where he is sometimes found lounging on a blanket. Gacek’s home has garnered a perfect five-star rating on Google Maps and surpassed Szczecin’s famous Renaissance castle to become the city’s top-rated attraction. We completely understand why.
We passed by his house a couple of times on the first day in Szczecin, and he was sleeping. People were passing by and stopping to look at him, and it was fun to watch the number of people that seemed to care for Gacek.
Later in the same day, we were back at the wooden box on Kaszubska Street, and, of course, Gacek was still sleeping. While we talked for a moment, a couple of Polish people came to ask us a question. Once they realized that we couldn’t speak their language, they asked if we were in town to see Gacek.
And, of course, we were in town to see him. The answer excited them, and they told us that Gacek was the city hero, the best cat in Poland. And we believed in them.
The next day, we returned to see the black and white cat and tried to take some pictures in the light of day. And something unusual happened: we were stopped by the Polish TV channel Polsat News, and we gave an interview about the cat and why we decided to go from Berlin to Szczecin to see him.
It was surreal but a fantastic piece of our experience with Gacek.
Despite his fame, visitors are reminded that Gacek is a living creature, not a toy, and should be treated respectfully. Visitors should refrain from waking him up or feeding him on their own and should leave treats in the nearby restaurant. Additionally, as Gacek is a cat, he may not always feel like being petted; people who live with cats know that already. Visitors should wait their turn at a distance to avoid creating a crowd since he doesn’t like big groups, and it blocks the sidewalk.
While Szczecin boasts a rich cultural heritage, the feline has become the city’s star attraction for modern-day tourists. His charm and popularity have attracted visitors from all over.
Gacek’s popularity has marked his location on the city’s Google map. He even has his own Instagram page. However, some Szczecin residents have expressed concern that people are offering Gacek inappropriate food, causing the feline to gain some extra weight.
Rules of meetings with Gacek
- When Gacek sleeps, don’t wake him up! Leave him sleeping.
- Never feed Gacek on your own. If you want to donate food, ask the restaurant next door about how you can help.
- Gacek is a cat, so he may not always feel like being petted. Respect that.
- Do not even try to take him home. His home is on Kaszubska Street.
- Don’t create a crowd – wait for your turn at a distance.
For those interested in visiting Gacek, there are some information and guidelines on the proper treatment of the feline celebrity on the website www.visitszczecin.eu.
Check it out before going there.
And if you want to support Gacek and the people that care for him, some shops around the box on Kaszubska Street sell souvenirs with Gacek’s face. They were not open when we visited the famous cat, but we would love to have some feline merch from him. Next time.
Some people might wonder if it’s worth traveling to a different country to see a cat, and we say yes. We visited Szczecin with Gacek in mind, but we explored the city and visited some of the spots we loved the most from our previous trip. And we will come back again as well.
Szczecin is close to Berlin, and more people should enjoy the city because of Gacek and other tourist spots.
Gacek: the cat that is Szczecin’s Top Tourist Spot
Kaszubska 16, 71-899 Szczecin, Poland